Especially in light of the need to ensure sustainability of zoo animal populations, alternative approaches to reproductive management are being developed. Lifetime Reproductive Planning recognizes that fertility is best established and maintained by allowing reproduction not long after puberty and then at regular intervals throughout a female’s life, until her genetic contribution to the population is reached. However, early and regular reproduction must be balanced with effects on the gene diversity of the population, its age structure and current holding capacity for the species in zoos. A model is being developed to test the effects of various Lifetime Reproduction Planning scenarios on population genetics and population size—whether the number of offspring produced would exceed the space zoos have available.
Three possible scenarios for a typical carnivore are shown below.