If zoos are meant to aid conservation, this is certainly NOT how they should go about it. Kindness and compassion are one thing, but wholly different (though not exclusive) from scientific approaches.
Consider this dilemma: If you had all but one motherless baby red panda in the world with a few hours to live, where would you look for a surrogate mother? In China, they found a cat that was willing to take up the job. Is cat’s milk the closest in nutritional composition to Red Panda’s milk? Did the zoo’s caretakers know anything about Red Panda’s milk at all? Did they prepare for such an exigency by having the right formula ready? After all, the mother was still alive.
No one has discussed this story as a failure of conservation methods. It’s no use crying over spilt milk. Really.
If your Friday has already kicked off in a Debbie Downer kind of mood, you may want to skip the latest update in Amsterdam’s panda and cat saga. The baby red panda rejected by its mother and subsequently adopted by a zookeeper’s cat has died after choking on milk. The grey and black tabby cat had recently given birth to kittens when the panda faced abandonment, offering the tiny animal an extra teat to share with her four kittens. Zookeepers hoped the panda would nurse from the cat for three months until it could begin consuming a diet of bamboo and fruit.