Maintaining the genetic health of putative Barbary lions in captivity: an analysis of Moroccan Royal Lions

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Author Black, Simon en_US
Author Yamaguchi, Nobuyuki en_US
Author Harland, Adrian en_US
Author Groombridge, Jim en_US
Available date 2009-12-27T08:53:40Z en_US
Publication Date 2009-05-12 en_US
Publication Name European Journal of Wildlife Research
Citation Black, S., Yamaguchi, N., Harland, A., & Groombridge, J. (2010). Maintaining the genetic health of putative Barbary lions in captivity: An analysis of Moroccan Royal Lions. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 56, 21–31 en_US
ISSN 1612-4642 (Print) en_US
ISSN 1439-0574 (Online) en_US
Abstract The last representatives of the Barbary lion (Panthera leo leo), once numerous in North Africa but exterminated from the wild by the 1940s, are believed to be the captive lions descended from the Moroccan Royal Collection, numbering less than 90 animals in zoos worldwide. The genetic fitness of these captive “Royal Lions” may now be under threat since, although most zoos have avoided hybridisation with animals of other origin, no formal breeding programme currently exists and several institutions have halted breeding activities. This situation has arisen since the distinctiveness of Barbary lions and the representative status of Royal Lions remain inconclusive and definitive molecular studies have yet to be completed. Previously, in the 1970s, morphological and phenotypic traits were used to match Royal Lions and the historic Barbary lion and an ex situ breeding programme was initiated involving a number of selected “founder” animals. This paper outlines the status of the descendent population within zoos in Morocco and Europe, including all known pure-bred descendents from the Royal Palace collection. Founder representation is shown to be greater across European collections than the Moroccan collection. Breeding exchanges are recommended between institutions in order to improve genetic diversity and maintain the genetic health of the population and a studbook for European zoo animals has been developed to support this action. This analysis serves as a benchmark for guiding effective maintenance of the captive population, thereby allowing time to clarify the conservation value of Royal Lions and their relevance to North African ecology. en_US
Language en en_US
Publisher Springer Berlin / Heidelberg en_US
Subject Panthera leo en_US
Subject Inbreeding en_US
Subject Founder representation en_US
Subject Studbook en_US
Subject Ex situ conservation en_US
Subject Atlas Mountains en_US
Title Maintaining the genetic health of putative Barbary lions in captivity: an analysis of Moroccan Royal Lions en_US
Type Article en_US

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