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Monday, November 7, 2016

From the News: Drought prompts Tennessee Aquarium to launch rescue of endangered Barrens Topminnows

So much of the focus on zoos and aquariums is on the big, glamorous, and often exotic species, it can be hard to remember that some of the most important conservation work involves the small, the obscure, and the native.  The Barrens Topminnow is three for three on that count. 

Something that I feel is worth pointing out here - the Tennessee Aquarium is able to help the topminnow because it has what many other conservation organizations - apart from zoos, aquariums, and related institutions - lack: experience and expertise in maintaining and breeding species under human care.  Greenpeace does not.  Human Society does not.  PETA sure as heck doesn't.  Which isn't to say that those organizations (even PETA) don't have a role to play in making a better future for animals.  It's simply that sometimes you need the skills that only zoos, aquariums, et al possess. 

Aquariums may have had their origins simply in the faddish curiosity of putting fish in little glass boxes to watch, until they died a few days later from improper but well-meaning care.  They've evolved since then.  The work demonstrated by the Tennessee Aquarium shows that we should be grateful that they have.  The survival of many species, not just the topminnow, may depend upon it.

Close up of a Barrens Topminnow on display at the Tennessee Aquarium. (Image: Tennessee Aquarium)

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