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Animal Care and Management at the National Zoo: Final Report
collection size was at the 89th percentile, with 2,278 specimens. The zoo had a ratio of vertebrate animals to staff of 7.8:1, a value lower than those of 72% of the AZA-accredited institutions. The ratios include all staff (animal-care, animal-health, research, administrative, service, and so on) reported by the institutions. About 50% of the zoo staff is involved directly in animal care and management (the Department of Animal Programs, the Department of Animal Health, the Department of Pathology, and the CRC Animal and Support Department). According to a previous National Research Council report (NRC, 2003b), the CRC science programs, number of staff, and disciplines represented are comparable with those of other zoos of similar size and status. It has about 30 staff scientists in disciplines that include reproductive biology, veterinary medicine, conservation biology, species recovery, genetics and genome-resources banking, and GIS spatial analysis for conservation; the Brookfield Zoo has about 25 scientists, the Institute of Zoology at the London Zoo about 22, and the San Diego Zoo about 35 (NRC, 2003b).
The general conclusion that may be drawn from these introductory remarks is that the zoo ranks among the top 10% of zoos in the United States in annual funding, collection size, and staff. What the numbers do not show is that the zoo is also a major center of research and conservation science and that its direct federal support through Congress and its location in the nation’s capital endow it with a special aura and prominence. However, according to a random nationwide survey of 1,987 adults done by the Roper Organization (1992), only 25% of people say that they know a lot about the zoo, compared with 60% who say that they know a lot about Sea World and 40% about Busch Gardens and the San Diego Zoo (Roper, 1992). Although some would argue that the zoo is the nation’s zoo and that its well-being should be a matter of national and not just local concern, it may not yet be in the entire nation’s consciousness.