Return to the wild: How can we recover Extinct in the Wild species?

9 March 2021, 18:00 - 19:30

Species facing imminent extirpation from the wild are sometimes able to be rescued into zoos, aquariums, or botanical gardens before extinction. But what happens next for these species? Can they be restored back to the wild? Species recovery can be challenging if the threats that caused extirpation from the wild are still present in the species’ native range, or if new threats are emerging (e.g. climate change). Furthermore, extinct in the wild species may face threats from loss of genetic diversity and adaptation to captivity, which may impact the ability of the species to survive in the wild. 

Despite the challenges, some species previously listed as extinct in the wild have been successfully recovered back to the wild (e.g. Przewalski's horse). However others have gone extinct while under human care in captivity (e.g. thylacine). There are currently 80 species listed as extinct in the wild on the IUCN red list of threatened species, ranging from the Franklin tree to the sihek (Guam kingfisher). Are there any lessons we can learn from the fates of different extinct in the wild species and what is next for the 80 species currently listed as extinct in the wild? In this event, we will explore the successes and challenges around recovery efforts for different extinct in the wild species.  


  • Dr Axel Moehrenschlager, Chair IUCN SSC Conservation Translocation Specialist Group, and Director of Conservation & Science, Calgary Zoo Foundation: "Will we save species that are extinct-in-the-wild? The ultimate test for conservation" 
  • Dr Sarah E. Dalrymple, Liverpool John Moores University: "How do we restore extinct in the wild plants?"
  • Dr Amanda Trask, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London: "Saving the sihek: recovery planning for an extinct in the wild species"
  • Paul Pearce-Kelly, Zoological Society of London: "Reintroducing Partula snails to the wild"



  • Click here to read a blog post by Dr Amanda Trask, Dr Donal Smith and Dr John Ewen on some of the challenges and successes of recovering Extinct in the Wild species.


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Science and Conservation Event Details:

  • This interactive online event was livestreamed to our YouTube channel, which can be found here:, alongside recordings of all our previous online events.
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  • Each event will comprise of 3-4 presentations from experts in the topic, similar to our previous event series.
  • Thank you to everyone who submitted a question - we encourage you to watch our events live so you can take part!
  • There was no charge for this event, and no need to register in advance to watch the livestream.
  • This event was produced by Eleanor Darbey, hosted by Charlotte Coales and facilitated by Linda DaVolls.


ZSL Wild Science Podcast

We will be creating a fascinating podcast episode featuring some of the speakers from this event, so keep an ear out in the following months! Listen to previous episodes from our award winning ZSL Wild Science podcast episodes produced by Dr Monika Böhm, and Eleanor Darbey here


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