Conservation

When the European Parliament amended the Zoo Licensing Act a few years ago it put an obligation on all zoos in Great Britain to make efforts to encourage conservation and to work in education. Tropiquaria takes these obligations seriously and, despite its small size, it regularly breeds endangered animals and assists other zoos in maintaining populations of such animals.

Ultimately it is intended that suitable representatives from such captive groups of animals will be used to either repopulate the wild or to bolster depleted wild population simply with numbers or by adding genetic variety to dwindling populations. Such intentions though can normally only be achieved when the reasons for an animals decline in the wild have been established and either controlled or reversed.

At present Tropiquaria has a number of animals whose wild populations are causing concern. These include Cotton-top Tamarins, Scottish Wildcats and Northern Helmeted Curassows. With the latter species, it is thought that Tropiquaria has the only breeding pair being currently exhibited in the UK. The stories of these animals, and why the wild populations are in the predicament that they are, each lend themselves to student project work, which can be undertaken at a number of levels.

Our Aquarium has a number of Endangered Species breeding projects and is a member of the international “Goodeid Working Group”, helping to conserve these rare Mexican livebearing fish. Further details can be found on our Aquarium pages.

Goodeid Breeding and Conservation

Goodeids are endemic to shallow freshwater habitats, such as ponds and creeks in Mexico, particularly along the Mesa Central area, west of Mexico City, with some species found in brackish fringes at both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. There are about 40 species of Goodeid in 16 genera. The temperature range that these fish can tolerate is large (from 14 ° C to 30 ° C) this is due to some of the locations being found at a high elevation where night-time frosts are common in winter.

From a biological and evolutionary point of view; the reproductive process that the Goodeids employ is very interesting. They are viviparous (giving birth to live young) and have special structures on the abdomen of the young fish and the pregnant females, that have a function similar to the umbilical cord and the placenta found in humans.

In recent years there has been a significant reduction in the range and size of Goodeid populations in this region, mainly due to anthropogenic disturbances, such as pollution, eutrophication, habitat modification and desiccation; recent estimates put habitat loss at 80% compared to historic ranges.

The Goodeid Working Group is a non-profitable international Working Group managed and run on a 100% voluntary basis. It was established on 1st May 2009 in Stockholm, Denmark in response to the critical environmental issues facing the majority of wild Goodeid species/populations, plus the poorly-documented ‘disappearance’ of many captive collections.

The primary goal of the Goodeid Working Group is to promote collaboration between like-minded hobbyists, universities, public aquaria, zoos, museums and conservation projects in order to maintain aquarium populations of Goodeids while assisting in the preservation of remaining natural habitats.

As members of the Goodeid Working Group, Tropiquaria is currently breeding 27 species or strains. Three of which are classified as Extinct In The Wild. It is believed that here at Tropiquaria we have the largest number of Goodeid species in the UK and the second largest number of all Zoos and Aquaria in Europe. With only the excellent and lead member of the Goodeid Working Group, The “Haus Des Meeres” in Vienna, Austria, having more. The number of species we are breeding will continue to increase over time. Details of our progress can be found in the table below.