Animal Information

Support Captive Breeding Programs by Putting your Clothes on!

Many wild populations of chelonians (turtles and tortoises) face serious trouble. with deforestation, disease and over-collection for the food and pet trade. For this reason, the sale of wild-caught chelonians as pets to the general public is often discouraged by conservation organizations and chelonian groups. While wild-caught reptiles are often less expensive than their captive-bred counterparts, purchasing captive-bred reptiles whenever possible is always recommended.

We love turtles and tortoises! Conservation is important in order to help the reptile thrive in the wild.

Why Protect The Turtle?

They are important environmental markers that help showcase the health of an ecosystem. Furthermore, they spread seeds. Click to Read Why Turtles and Tortoises Are So Important


With that said, we can show our support for this animal without removing them from the wild.

First, if you are considering raising turtles as a pet, you should choose one from a breeder. Click to read Why Turtles And Tortoises Are So Important To The Environment.

Many small reptile shops purchase from breeders exclusively so you should do lots of research. Click to read How To Choose The Right Turtle or Tortoise As A Pet.


Do We Make And Ship These Items?

We are Amazon Affiliates! So we have put this page together as an easy way to show your support to the turtle and tortoise. And to Crazy Critters! Because we earn a commission with each sale! That is the same as making a donation to us!

You order straight from Amazon! It does not take any time out of our day to do this. And it creates lots of needed income. Right now we are building the perimeter of the facility. Click to see more on Fencing For Large Tortoises!

Why Breed Turtles In Captivity?


Captive Breeding programs are departments within zoos, rescues, sanctuaries and so on in which animals are kept in enclosures and are bred to produce future generations of their species.

There is great debate over whether these types of programs should be continued. This article aims to provide a basic approach to both the pros and cons to captive breeding programs both in the aspect of animal behavior and in animal conservation.

There’s more to it than just putting a male and female together in the same enclosure. Breeding is carefully managed to control numbers and to prevent inbreeding.

The aim is to ensure as much genetic variation in the captive population as possible and this is achieved with the aid of a studbook. Computer databases help compile studbooks that record the details of each individual animal on the program, e.g. its sex, date of birth, and full ancestry.


The curator decides which animals will be paired for breeding and asks the facilities that hold them to transfer the animals.

Captive breeding programs help conserve animals that are endangered or threatened in the wild so that a species doesn’t become extinct.

Extinction rates are going up and it is predicted that 20-50% of the world’s species will become extinct in the next couple of decades.


So facilities like Crazy Critters Inc. are somewhat of an “arc” by holding the world’s species in captivity and saving their genetic material from total elimination.

Some of our captive breeding programs also have goals for the reintroduction of these animals back into a natural or wild environment. These reintroductions can help in conservation efforts by keeping population numbers up and decreasing inbreeding and genetic drift.


No money changes hands – we’re in it to save wildlife.

A big problem that arises with captive breeding programs is the sheer numbers of animals in captivity. Most facilities don’t have the resources or the space to support a larger breeding program.

Also, captive breeding programs have a high cost to support and properly care for each animal so they consist of few animals that can’t sustain a proper breeding population.


Another major con to captive breeding programs comes in on the animal behavior side. Even though caretakers try their very best to make captive enclosures as natural and stimulating as possible, they fall short of a wild/natural environment.

So with this change in the environment comes a change in these animals’ behavior. Some major changes in behavior are a decrease in predator avoidance, a decrease in foraging abilities, an increase in sleeping patterns, a decrease in overall activity, and some problems in social behaviors.


Some captive species even have problems in reproduction such as the endangered rhino populations, and that calls in to question the effectiveness of their captive breeding program.

These changes in behavior are a major factor in whether these animals can be reintroduced into the wild and if it would benefit their population.


Are these captive breeding programs a good a bad thing?

Is it important to have some individuals of a species still existing somewhere rather than go extinct completely?


Or is it better to try and just support the wild populations as they are and use other conservation techniques to keep the endangered species going even though that risks complete extinction?

The debate is still up in the air and if you really care about the environment the question should be evaluated on a species to species basis.

Captive breeding techniques began with the first human domestication of animals such as goats, and plants like wheat, at least 10,000 years ago.


These practices were then expanded with the rise of the first zoos, which started as royal menageries in Egypt and its popularity, which led to an increase in zoos worldwide.

The first actual captive breeding programs were only started in the 1960s.

These programs, such as the Arabian Oryx breeding program from The Phoenix Zoo in 1962, were aimed at the reintroduction of these species into the wild.

These programs expanded under The Endangered Species Act of 1973 of the Nixon Administration, which focused on protecting endangered species and their habitats to preserve biodiversity.

Since then, research and conservation centers have been housed in zoos, such as the Institute for Conservation Research at the San Diego Zoo founded in 1975 and expanded in 2009, which have contributed to the successful conservation efforts of species such as the Hawaiian Crow.

The objective of many captive populations is to hold similar levels of genetic diversity to what is found in wild populations.

As captive populations are usually small and maintained in artificial environments, genetics factors such as adaptation, inbreeding, and loss of diversity can be a major concern.

Adaptive differences between plant and animal populations arise due to variations in environmental pressures.

In the case of captive breeding prior to reintroduction into the wild, it’s possible for species to evolve to adapt to the captive environment, rather than their natural environment.

Reintroducing a plant or animal to an environment dissimilar to the one they were originally from can cause fixation of traits that may not be suited for that environment leaving the individual disadvantaged.

Selection intensity, initial genetic diversity, and effective population size can impact how much the species adapts to its captive environment.


Modeling works indicate that the duration of the programs (i.e., time from the foundation of the captive population to the last release event) is an important determinant of reintroduction success.

Success is maximized for intermediate project duration allowing the release of a sufficient number of individuals while minimizing the number of generations undergoing relaxed selection in captivity.


It can be minimized by reducing the number of generations in captivity, minimizing selection for captive adaptations by creating an environment similar to the natural environment and maximizing the number of immigrants from wild populations.

One consequence of small captive population size is the increased impact of genetic drift, where genes have the potential to fix or disappear completely by chance, thereby reducing genetic diversity.


Other factors that can impact genetic diversity in a captive population are bottlenecks and the initial population size.

Bottlenecks, such as a rapid decline in the population or a small initial population impact genetic diversity.

Loss can be minimized by establishing a population with a large enough number of founders to genetically represent the wild population, maximize population size, maximize the ratio of effective population size to actual population size. As well as to minimize the number of generations in captivity.

Inbreeding is when organisms mate with closely related individuals, lowering heterozygosity in a population. Although inbreeding can be relatively common, when it results in a reduction in fitness it is known as inbreeding depression.

The detrimental effects of inbreeding depression are especially prevalent in smaller populations and can, therefore, be extensive in captive populations.

To make these populations the most viable, it is important to monitor and reduce the effects of deleterious allele expression caused by inbreeding depression and to restore genetic diversity.

Comparing inbred populations against non-inbred or less-inbred populations can help determine the extent of detrimental effects if any are present.


Closely monitoring the possibility of inbreeding within the captive-bred population is also key to the success of reintroduction into the species’ native habitat.

Outbreeding is when organisms mate with unrelated individuals, increasing heterozygosity in a population. Although new diversity is often beneficial if there large genetic differences between the two individuals it can result in outbreeding depression.


This is a reduction in fitness, similar to that of inbreeding depression, but arises from a number of different mechanisms, including taxonomic issues, chromosomal differences, sexual incompatibility, or adaptive differences between the individuals.

A common cause is chromosomal ploidy differences and hybridization between individuals leading to sterility. The best example is in the orangutan, which, prior to taxonomic revisions in the 1980s would be commonly mated in captive populations producing hybrid orangutans with lower fitness.

If chromosomal ploidy is ignored during reintroduction, restoration efforts would fail due to sterile hybrids in the wild. If there are large genetic differences between individuals originally from distant populations, those individuals should only be bred in circumstances where no other mates exist.

Captive breeding can contribute to changes in behavior in animals that have been reintroduced to the wild.

Captive Breeding Puts Less Strain On Wild Populations.


Released animals are commonly less capable of hunting or foraging for food, which leads to starvation, possibly because the young animals spent the critical learning period in captivity.

Released animals often display more risk-taking behavior and fail to avoid predators.

Golden lion tamarin mothers often die in the wild before having offspring because they cannot climb and forage. This leads to continuing population declines despite reintroduction as the species are unable to produce viable offspring.

Training can improve anti-predator skills, but their effectiveness varies.

Keeping wild chelonians in the wild and appropriately managing their habitat is the key to recovering the species.

Although there are thousands of captive tortoises they do not necessarily contribute to the recovery of the species.

One of the fundamental ideas we must incorporate is to conserve the ecosystems upon which species depend, and raising individuals in captivity does not meet that purpose.

Leave It To The Pros!

Keep captive animals captive. Release of unwanted captive-bred animals to the wild can threaten the wild population without a thorough health screening and is an inhumane practice.


If a captive tortoise is released into an area that already has a declining population of native tortoises it can create a situation where wild and captive tortoises are competing for limited food, water, and shelter.

Diseases may not be apparent in a captive situation where the tortoise is well fed and watered but can progress to become more debilitating and transmissible under the harsh conditions of the environment.


In the State Of Florida FWC regulates animals removed from our lands and waters. But did you know they also regulate what animals can be released?

It is always the best practice to ask FWC. They will normally ask for a photo of the animal Then they can tell you best what to do with it.

Let us know your ideas and comments below!