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Animals 2011, 1(1), 176-185;

A Conservation Ethic and the Collecting of Animals by Institutions of Natural Heritage in the Twenty-First Century: Case Study of the Australian Museum

Department of Museum Studies, School of Letters, Arts and Media, Faculty of Arts, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
Received: 18 January 2011 / Accepted: 27 January 2011 / Published: 15 February 2011
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Simple Summary

It is a core task of collecting institutions like museums to take examples of animals and preserve them as specimens in collections. In the twenty-first century, museums are equally the places where research is conducted and education is promoted in the service of conservation of animals in an era of the decline of biodiversity. In this paper, the balance of co-operation between collecting of animals by museums and the promotion and scientific pursuit of conservation of fauna in those museums is considered. As a “challenge” to museum science, it is considered in the context of Australia’s oldest museum, and its policy and practice in the current century.


Collecting of animals from their habitats for preservation by museums and related bodies is a core operation of such institutions. Conservation of biodiversity in the current era is a priority in the scientific agendas of museums of natural heritage in Australia and the world. Intuitively, to take animals from the wild, while engaged in scientific or other practices that are supposed to promote their ongoing survival, may appear be incompatible. The Australian Museum presents an interesting ground to consider zoological collecting by museums in the twenty-first century. Anderson and Reeves in 1994 argued that a milieu existed that undervalued native species, and that the role of natural history museums, up to as late as the mid-twentieth century, was only to make a record the faunal diversity of Australia, which would inevitably be extinct. Despite the latter, conservation of Australia’s faunal diversity is a key aspect of research programmes in Australia’s institutions of natural heritage in the current era. This paper analyses collecting of animals, a core task for institutions of natural heritage, and how this interacts with a professed “conservation ethic” in a twenty-first century Australian setting. View Full-Text
Keywords: collecting; animal conservation; biological collections; Australian museum collecting; animal conservation; biological collections; Australian museum
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Ikin, T. A Conservation Ethic and the Collecting of Animals by Institutions of Natural Heritage in the Twenty-First Century: Case Study of the Australian Museum. Animals 2011, 1, 176-185.

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