Zoos have undergone dramatic changes over the years. Their aims and objectives, as well as the way animals are kept in captivity, have changed greatly.
Nearly all animals are threatened, to some degree, as the human population continues to grow. Many wild habitats are being destroyed or cleared to make room for population growth. And, when habitats start to disappear, animals also begin to decline in numbers.
Zoos are now seen as safe places where many species which are under threat can be preserved and maintained.
We play a vital role in conservation work by taking part in breeding programmes that aim to boost the numbers of endangered animals.
Belfast Zoo currently takes part in more than 60 breeding programmes. Each programme is run by a species co-ordinator from a zoo around the world and is supported by experts from other zoos. The breeding programmes for the François langur, the black and white Colobus monkey and the marbled polecat are coordinated by members of the Belfast Zoo team.
More than 24 million people visit British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria (BIAZA) collections every year and 1.2 million visit for an organised education trip. Zoos are in a unique position to teach and inspire a diverse audience about wildlife and the role of zoos, the dangers facing animals in their natural habitats and to inspire visitors to get involved with conservation.