Do animals live longer in zoos?

BBC Wildlife contributor Stuart Blackman answers your wild question. 

Grevy's zebras in a UK zoo

Grevy's zebras in a UK zoo © Sergio Amiti / Getty


Only recently has there been enough data on the longevity of wild animals to answer this.

A study of more than 50 mammal species found that, in over 80 per cent of cases, zoo animals live longer than their wild counterparts.

In terms of lifespan, at least, it seems that the protection afforded by zoos against predators, disease and the elements outweighs any social and behavioural problems arising from life in captivity.

The effect was most pronounced in smaller species with a faster pace of life. Larger, slower species with few predators, such as elephants, live longer in the wild.


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