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The rapid and continuing destruction of enormous areas of primary forest over many parts of South America has resulted in a threat of imminent extinction for many of its fascinating variety of primate species. Zoos have an increasingly vital role to play in the conservation of these species since some are likely to survive only in captivity. In his introduction to the 20 papers in the section New World Primates, Dr Russell A. Mittermeier, Chairman of the IUCN/SSC Primate Group, points out that before appropriate steps can be taken to save many South American primates more information has to be obtained about their status in the wild. The section therefore begins with discussions on a number of regions, giving a comprehensive picture of the problems which have to be faced, pinpointing the species most in need of protection and outlining the steps which must be taken in order to ensure some kind of future for them. Also included are a valuable report on the first field studies carried out on the recently rediscovered Yellow-tailed woolly monkey, and a review of the merits and demerits of the translocation, introduction, reintroduction and rehabilitation of primate species. A number of recommendations are put forward to serve as guidelines for future projects, with an emphasis on the need for carefully thought out procedures and a cautious approach. The recent surge of interest in New World primates is reflected not only in the number of new field studies but also in the amount of important work currently being done with captive species, much of it in zoos. The work covered here includes an analysis of reproductive trends in the captive population of the Golden lion tamarin, an extremely rare species which may already be suffering from the deleterious effects of inbreeding. Excellent descriptions are provided by Brookfield Zoo, Chicago and Jersey Zoo on the maintenance and breeding of Goeldi's monkey. Recent research on the karyology of the Owl monkey is reported, contributing to the continuing debate on whether there is in fact more than one species of this primate. Also covered are some of the latest advances in research into the reproductive physiology of a number of New World species.
The section "New developments in the zoo world" includes 28 articles concerning the many aspects of zoo management and research into breeding and behaviour of a wide variety of rare or little-known species. Amongst the many articles of interest are reports on the breeding of the Siamese crocodile, the effects of humidity on the successful artificial incubation of avian eggs, and the husbandry and reproduction of the Large hairy armadillo. Breeding statistics for the Lowland gorilla are examined with a view to improving breeding results, and the now serious effects of inbreeding on captive leopard subspecies are discussed. The recent fundamental change in the rationale behind hand-rearing in zoos is demonstrated in the number of papers which describe methods specifically designed to help reintegrate hand-reared animals into their natal groups.
The reference section contains over 180 pages containing a directory of zoos and aquaria around the world, a list of buildings and exhibits completed and occupied between 1979-1980, a taxonomic list of vertebrate species bred in captivity in 1980 with a note of multiple generation births, the most recent census of rare animals in captivity and the latest list of authorised studbooks and world registers. The section ends with author and subject indices to this volume.