Last week, a northern white rhino was euthanized at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, bringing the species one step closer to extinction. Only three northern white rhinos cling to life on a Kenyan reserve, and these two bits of information-death in captivity and disastrously depleted numbers in the wild-suggest that we're not doing all we can to save imperiled wildlife, and that life in a zoo, however brief, is not the hedge against extinction that the zoo industry would like you to believe.
We have seen time and again that wild animals who languish in captivity do not benefit conservation and do not instil in our children the information and education that will contribute to the animals' survival. Instead, captivity is simply that-captivity. It is a life behind bars, whatever those bars may look like, thousands of miles removed from where the solution to survival exists: in the wild.
At the same time this captive northern white rhino was euthanized, a South African court has overturned a ban on domestic trade in rhino horn in that country. This is a shocking and perturbing development for a southern African country that simultaneously has captive rhino farms where the animals are bred for export overseas; whose government is clearly advocating for a legalized international rhino horn trade; and where more than 1,200 rhinos were poached last year, compared to only 13 in 2007.