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Breeding programmes

Good zoos are more than simply a place to see animals. Belfast Zoo, like many zoos around the world, plays a vital role in the conservation of species at risk.

More species than ever before are facing increasing threats to their natural habitats. Zoos may be the only way to ensure the survival of these species. Collaborative breeding programmes help zoos around the world to manage vulnerable and endangered species by providing a ‘safety net’ population. Without the active work of zoos some species would simply no longer exist, such as the Socorro dove or Barbary lion.

Belfast Zoo takes part in over 60 breeding programmes. Breeding is carefully managed through population management guidance and tools. We use a database called Species360 ZIMS (Zoological Information Management Software) which records sex, birth date, health and ancestry of individual animals, and connects with zoos around the world. A species coordinator pairs suitable males and females based on genetics. Visit EAZA for further information on European breeding programmes.

Our staff manage breeding programmes for red squirrels, Francois’ langur, black and white Colobus monkey and pygmy marmosets.

Belfast Zoo does not buy animals however we often rescue animals. For example, our Cape porcupines were rehomed from a zoo in Europe that was closing.

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