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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 July 2007, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
Zoos 'failing' over work in wild
Snow leopard cubs
The Highland Wildlife Park said it was introducing snow leopards
A wildlife charity has criticised Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park for not giving enough support to conservation projects in the wild.

The zoos were among 13 highlighted by the Born Free Foundation, which also said the zoos did not do enough to protect threatened species.

London, Bristol and Whipsnade zoos have also come under attack.

The Royal Zoological Society, which runs both of the Scottish zoos, defended its record.

Under EU legislation, zoos have a legal obligation to keep and breed threatened animals and support conservation projects.

Endangered animals

The Born Free Foundation report said the zoos only spent about 5% of their gross income on conservation in the wild, and that less than a quarter of species kept by the zoos were under threat in the wild.

Foundation spokesman Will Travers said: "Zoos have an obligation to a conservation agenda.

"That can be made up of a number of ways - to breed threatened and endangered species, and to put finance and other resources into their natural habitat.

"The bottom line would appear to be that around 5% of funds generated in these zoos are spent in the wild.

"There seems to us to be a big gap between public expectation and reality - people think zoos do a lot more."

However the Zoological Society, which operates both zoos criticised, defended its record.

Edinburgh Zoo penguin
Edinburgh Zoo is famed for its penguins

Chief executive David Windmill said the Highland Wildlife Park, near Aviemore, was now introducing red pandas, snow leopards and possibly even a polar bear.

He said that within three years more than 80% of the species at Kincraig would be endangered animals.

The theory is that the new animals would boost visitor numbers, allowing the park to fund more conservation projects in the wild.

Speaking to BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme, he added: "About 95% of the animals we have at Edinburgh Zoo are involved in breeding programs, supporting conservation.

"When you look at what zoos do, you've got to also look at what they do in terms of education - 25,000 children a year come through Edinburgh Zoo and we are making them very aware of the conservation message.

"A further 650,000 visitors come through and we've got to include in this conservation work the communication of the plight of these animals out in the wild - that is a vital part of what zoos do."

Experts debate zoo conservation work

Wildlife park planning tiger feat
04 Jul 07 |  Highlands and Islands
Snow monkeys drift into reserve
04 Jul 07 |  Highlands and Islands
New penguins arrive at city zoo
01 Jun 07 |  Edinburgh and East
Wildlife park puts down wolf pack
22 May 06 |  Highlands and Islands

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