Skinks in Zoos: A global approach on distribution patterns of threatened Scincidae in zoological institutions

Anna Wahle, Dennis Rödder, David G. Chapple, Shai Meiri, Anna Rauhaus, Thomas Ziegler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To manage populations of threatened species according to the IUCN's One Plan Approach, knowledge about both in situ and ex situ populations is required. To enhance the conservation of threatened skinks and to gain an overview which skink species are kept in zoos, and thus already have an ex situ conservation component, we analysed data from the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS): their individual numbers, breeding success, and the number of holding institutions. We categorised species as threatened or non-threatened based on IUCN Red List assessments. Only 92 (~5%) of 1727 recognized skink species are held in ZIMS institutions worldwide, mostly in Australia, Europe, and North America. 77% of the species kept globally are classified as non-threatened and ~23% (21 species) are threatened. Only 28% of the species kept have successfully bred in the last year, mostly in one zoo each. Of these seven species were threatened. All threatened species are kept by four zoos at most, generally only in one. Half of the skink species kept are represented by less than 10 individuals. Mainly Australian skink species were kept. To improve the conservation of threatened skinks, a shift towards keeping threatened species should be considered within captive management programmes. European and North American zoos offer capacities and expertise for skink conservation but are outside skink species richness hotspots. Cooperative projects with institutions and stations in such hotspots could greatly benefit the conservation of skinks. Thus, according to the One Plan Approach, the ex situ populations could directly contribute to in situ protection.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01800
JournalGlobal Ecology and Conservation
StatePublished - Oct 2021


FundersFunder number
Cologne Zoo
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
Villanova University
Australian Research CouncilFT200100108
World Association of Zoos and Aquariums07012, 07011


    • Conservation breeding
    • Skinks
    • Species selection
    • ZIMS
    • Zoos
    • ex situ populations


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