No one can be really
sure how many different species of reptiles or fish there are in the world's zoos. In
Britain the largest collections are at London Zoo
which at any one time has around a hundred different reptiles, and almost two hundred
different fish. Most zoos have fairly traditional aquariums and reptile
accommodation, but few are making a very good effort to breed the reptiles in particular.
This is important because both groups of animals tend to be largely ignored when zoos
publish or discuss their breeding successes or failures. A great many reptile and fish
species, probably well over three quarters, never breed at all, and their zoo populations
are often bolstered, ironically, by illegally imported animals confiscated and donated to
the zoo by customs officials.
Undoubtedly the best British reptile
collection, so far as breeding success is concerned, is at Jersey Zoo which devotes considerable effort to
hatching and rearing a whole variety of endangered snakes, lizards, and tortoises. Look
for signs that the animals are breeding.