That is the question. During my short amount of time learning about the animal industry, one of the main conflicts I always hear about is if keeping animals in a zoo has a positive affect on the species or a negative affect. Why keep animals in a zoo? Are we being cruel or are we helping? Throughout my life, I have visited many zoos and wildlife establishments in the UK from the main popular establishments to ones that don’t get as many visitors. I have found reasons about why we should keep animals in zoos, and also why we shouldn’t.
Conservation, a main topic in the animal industry and a valid reason why we should keep animals in zoos. There are so many species that are endangered and on the edge of extinction, like the Amur Leopard for example, and their species population numbers need to be increased. Zoos are useful as they can breed these endangered species and hopefully release some back into the wild so they can reproduce in the wild increasing their numbers. They make visitors aware of how endangered a species is and give them opportunities to help the species.
Why do we go to a zoo? To view extraordinary animals and be in awe that they exist. It’s a way to get people to be inspired about these animals and contribute to their welfare and conservation. There is more chance that visitors would be more interested in an animals welfare if they see one in person rather than a video of one. A zoo allows us to do that. To see top predators up close and be in awe of the herbivores. No amount of videos of these animals could beat seeing one in real life.
But we must also consider what being in a zoo means for an animal. Their whole life is spent in public view, no matter where they go. They don’t have the freedom to run great distances like most animals would do in the wild. They are there for our pleasure and our purposes. We don’t know if when we captured the animals for zoos all those years ago, we had an massive negative effect that has made most extinct and endangered. Maybe if we had left them alone, we wouldn’t be struggling to bring their numbers up again.
Zoos also seem to take the life out of some of the animals, and this could just be one specific animal rather than a species. We see so many abnormal behaviours in the animals that they would never do in the wild, because we have forced to live in an enclosure their entire lives. Sometimes we have forced them to be around animals they would not normally live near. The worst thing is someone animals are considered to be so used to captivity that they can’t be released into the wild or they wouldn’t survive. In terms of conservation, this means that the endangered animals we are trying to recover are staying in zoos and captivity so the numbers in the wild never grow.
My personal opinion is that zoos and wildlife establishments are required to an extent. For conservation and to inspire people to help these animals they are useful and extraordinary. I have never been in awe as much as I am at a zoo being near these wonderful creatures. But on the other hand, if these zoos aren’t helping in the efforts to keep these animals away from extinction so out children’s children can be in awe of them too, then what are they there for.
So shall we zoo, or not zoo?
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