What does captive / cultivated mean?

Modified on Fri, 21 Jun at 2:33 PM

Checking captive / cultivated means that the observation is of an organism that exists in the time and place it was observed because humans intended it to be then and there. Likewise, wild / naturalized organisms exist in particular times and places because of other reasons (e.g. members of native or established non-native populations or released/escaped pets, hitchhikers, or vagrants). 

The main reason we try to mark things like this is because iNat is primarily about observing wild organisms, not pets, animals in zoos, garden plants, specimens in drawers, etc., and many scientific data partners are often not interested in (or downright alarmed by) observations of captive or cultivated organisms.


Since this tends to be kind of a gray area, here are some concrete examples:


Captive / cultivated (planted)

  • zebra in a zoo
  • poppy in a garden
  • tree planted 1, 10, or 100 years ago by humans
  • butterfly mounted in a display case and not appropriately marked with date and location of original collection
  • your pet such as a dog or cat
  • plants that grew from seeds that were planted in the ground or scattered


  • zebra in the Serengeti (assuming it's not in a zoo in the Serengeti)
  • fly on a zebra in a zoo
  • weed or other unintended plant growing in a garden
  • the descendents of plants that had been planted by humans 
  • butterfly that flew into a building
  • snake that you just picked up (yes, it's in your hand where you intended it to be, but the place and time is where the snake intended to be)
  • feral dog or cat
  • your museum/herbarium specimens that are appropriately marked with date and location of original collection
  • garden plant that is reproducing on its own and spreading outside of the intended gardening area
  • a pigeon that benefits from human populations but is not actually raised or kept by humans
  • a bird caught by a pet cat (presuming the bird isn't also a pet)
  • a bird that comes to an outdoor bird feeder
  • living organisms dispersed by the wind, water, and other forces apart from humans
  • an escaped or released pet (please use the Established annotation in this case)

Please use your best judgement based on the evidence provided in the observation.

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