Japan zoos, aquariums to launch 'matchmaking' database

Japan zoos, aquariums to launch 'matchmaking' database

Zoos and aquariums across the country plan to pool information on their animals in a centralized database with the aim of boosting their collections, especially those of rare species.

About 151 institutions nationwide are affiliated with the Tokyo-based Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA), which will integrate information on breeding programs for approximately 60,000 species.

The new database, which will be launched next month and fully implemented over the summer, will contain data detailing the various creatures kept at each establishment.

The project is aimed at reducing the difficulties associated with procuring rare animals and facilitating easier propagation of species.

In 2011, based on data calculations, JAZA forecast that among domestic zoos in the next 20 years, western gorilla numbers will fall from 23 to six; African elephants will dwindle from 46 to seven; and Persian leopards will disappear altogether, based on head counts for 2010.

The number of animals living in the nation's zoos has been decreasing.

Furthermore, under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora-also known as CITES, or the Washington Convention-there is a limit on the number of rare animals that can be imported.

In light of the circumstances and despite the fact that many animals now in zoos are advancing in age, there has been little cooperation between domestic institutions to expand collections.

In response, JAZA closely examined the system developed in Australasia by the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA), wherein each member institution supplies such data on its breeding projects as the number and sex of members of each species.

This information is then made available to the affiliates via computer.

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