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Are Zoos Good Or Bad Essays

Why Zoos Are Bad For Animals

Zoos are a place where animals from around the world are kept. Animals are taken from their natural habitat where there are naturally existing food sources and enemies, and placed inside of a cage that keeps out all of animals and consists of only a small percentage of the naturally occurring flora and fauna to which the animal is accustomed. With no natural predators or food sources to hunt, many animals will lose their natural instincts, which are necessary for survival. This prevents reintegration into the animal kingdom and leaves them sentenced for life in a zoo.

When animals are taken from their natural habitat, they are placed in secluded cages where their natural habitat is recreated, to the best of the zoo’s abilities. However, certain aspects such as ambient temperature in an animal’s natural habitat cannot be recreated perfectly. Animals live around the world for a reason. The main reason is that their natural habitat is associated with a particular climate and eco system, one which is reliant upon all of the natural plants and animals who also share that habitat. Nocturnal animals are those who sleep during the day and forage during the night. When nocturnal animals are taken from their natural habitat and placed inside of a zoo, with standard day time operating hours, it can be incredibly difficult for the animals to maintain their normal sleeping and activity plans due to a high rate of traffic often banging on their cage or calling to them during the day.

A cage in a zoo cannot recreate the whole of an animal’s native environment. Some flora and fauna are native to specific regions around the world and cannot be transplanted. This means that animals that typically get their nutrients from one plant may not have access to that plant inside of their zoo cage. The zoo will give them nutrients in other forms, but this is still altering the natural selection process of the animal kingdom.

In addition, without any natural predators or animals to hunt, animals kept in cages in a zoo lose their natural survival instincts and ability to hunt in the wild. This forever prevents them from being reintroduced into the animal kingdom. Left in a cage for the rest of their life, many zoo animals only have their mate and perhaps a few other herd members in their shared facility, which leaves them lonely for companionship that would naturally exist in the wild.

There's a lot of controversy surrounding zoos. Most of us have probably taken a trip to the zoo at some point, just for the chance to see animals that we would never get to see in our normal lives. How else would many of us be able to see elephants, tigers, lions, monkeys, and countless other species? The question is, though, are zoos really a good place for animals to be? 

Animal Rights

Many organizations and individuals believe that zoos go against all principles surrounding animal rights. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), for example, believes that zoos compromise animal rights, because in zoos animals are caged, used for entertainment purposes, and sometimes poorly cared for. Think about it for a second; what right do we have as human beings to capture wild animals, keep them in enclosures that are incredibly small compared to their natural habitat, and charge to have them regularly viewed by the public? Zoo animals are often taken from the wild in order to be put on display, and are bought and traded as though they were objects rather than living beings. PETA might just have a point here. 

Is the zoo really the best place for this majestic polar bear? Courtesy of zoochat.com

The Other Side

There are some who argue that zoos provide a valuable education resource. For example, most people are not able to travel around the world in order to observe and learn about different kinds of animals. The zoo allows people to see these animals up close. Zoos also give scientists and researchers the opportunity to closely study a certain type of animal, and perhaps learn how to keep that species alive in the wild. There are also animals that are endangered or close to extinction that live in captivity, and people fear that releasing them could lead to the total elimination of the species. 

Zoos often house endangered species, like this African elephant. Courtesy of Bernard Gagnon

Animal Sanctuaries

There is a big difference between zoos and sanctuaries. Zoos often operate as commercial ventures, where animals are bought and sold. Sanctuaries, however, are typically not-for-profit organizations where animals who are unable to survive in the wild due to illness, injury, or trauma are given a second chance at life. Sanctuaries also often offer care to more specific types of animals; for example, elephants at an elephant sanctuary will obviously be the focus of the efforts, hopefully meaning that the elephants will have more space to live and more appropriate care. 

These lions found sanctuary at a wildlife reserve that caters to abused and exotic animals. Courtesy of Jerry Luterman

Whether or not you think zoos are a problem is really up to you. Take a close look next time you're at the zoo, though. Are the animals thriving? Do they have enough space to meet their needs? It's worth thinking about. 

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