Do animals live longer in captivity?

Do animals live longer in captivity or in the wild? How does it vary between species? Read on to find out!

Tiger in a zoo. © Paula French/Getty

Only recently has there been enough data on the longevity of wild animals to establish whether animals live longer in captivity or in the wild.

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A study of more than 50 mammal species found that, in over 80 per cent of cases, zoo animals live longer than their wild counterparts.

A lioness waits for feeding time watched by young children at Orana Wildlife Park, Christchurch.
A lioness waits for feeding time watched by young children at Orana Wildlife Park. © Tim Clayton/Getty

In terms of lifespan, at least, it seems that the protection afforded by zoos against predators, disease and the elements outweighs any social and behavioural problems arising from life in captivity.

The effect was most pronounced in smaller species with a faster pace of life. Larger, slower species with few predators, such as elephants, live longer in the wild.

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