Captive breeding -- where endangered animals in zoos or other facilities are encouraged to reproduce, with the aim of releasing the offspring -- has been credited for saving a number species from extinction in the wild. Pictured, a golden lion tamarin at ZSL London Zoo.
Golden lion tamarin – Found only in Brazil, the golden lion tamarin was driven to the brink of extinction by a combination of deforestation and the pet trade. But the breeding efforts of almost 150 zoos have helped numbers recover to more than 3,000 in the wild.
The California condor was almost wiped out in the 1980s by a combination of hunting, accidental poisoning, and the toxic pesticide DDT.
Here a California condor lands in Marble Gorge, east of Grand Canyon National Park, in March 2007.
Famed for its 3-meter wingspan, the condor's fortunes were revived by the breeding efforts of San Diego Zoo, and others, including the The Peregrine Fund.
Related to the common horse, Przewalski's horse is native to central Asia but by the 1960s it was extinct in the wild.
Captive-bred Przewalski's horses have since been released in Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan. These horses live in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
By the early 1970s, the Arabian oryx was hunted to extinction in the wild. There are now over 1,000 living in the wild.
The oryx has been reintroduced to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
The Myanmar roofed turtle, whose mouth is upturned into a permanent smile, was believed to be extinct until 2001. Found only in Myanmar, its population was decimated by the collection of eggs and live turtles for food and the pet trade.
In August 2020, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Turtle Survival Alliance announced they had raised 1,000 of the turtles at a facility in Myanmar, which will soon be released into the wild. The WCS said that the large captive-bred population mean that "the species appears in little danger of biological extinction."
In the mid 1970s, the Mauritius kestrel was the rarest bird in the world. A captive breeding program increased numbers to around 800 in the wild, but the population is now in decline.
By 1995, there were only about 50 birds left, but captive breeding has helped raise numbers to around 210, confined to four small islands off the New Zealand coast.
The long-term goal is to reintroduce the kakapo to the mainland, but that can only happen if predators no longer roam there. Predator Free 2050 is an ambitious project to eradicate predators across the country. If it is successful, kakapo and other native birds, 80 percent of which are currently in decline, could thrive again.