According to National Geographic: “The model of the modern, public zoo became popular in 18th century, during the Age of Enlightenment.” Zoos are an amazing way for people to interact with animals from across the world, extending their knowledge and their understanding of foreign creatures. However, in more recent years, it’s become a question of whether zoos are serving their true purpose which is to protect and rehabilitate animals which is what has inspired me to delve further into the treatment of animals in zoos across the world.

 

Positives of zoos – 

 

Don’t get me wrong, zoos have many benefits to both humans and the animals, it’s just distinguishing the ratio between the good and the bad:

 

Zoos provide great entertainment for all ages allowing parents to treat their children to an exciting day out whilst not breaking the bank. 

They provide a great opportunity for conducting research that educates about how people can protect and save more animals. 

Most importantly, zoos are an efficient way of conserving endangered animals. For example, Colchester Zoo has a breeding scheme that makes sure over 200 endangered species don’t become extinct. 

 

Negatives – 

 

Unfortunately, I think that the negatives outweigh the positives and here is why:

 

Animals are taken away from their natural habitats – most of the time when animals are ‘rescued’ they are put into a confined, unfamiliar space that according to LCA “deprives them of mental and physical stimulation”. 

For example, orca whales typically travel around 140 miles per day in the wild yet when in held in captivity the average capacity that they are held in is 24 ft long and 12 ft deep. 

 

Lessens their life expectancy – animals being born and raised in a claustrophobic spaces compared to their natural habitat can massively reduce their life expectancy. ‘Freedom for animals’ state that “African elephants in the wild live more than three times as long as those kept in zoos.” This can be because of excessive stress due to being kept in unfamiliar surroundings and cages for the discretionary viewing of visitors.   

 

It’s just wrong – now others may disagree, but I just think that there’s no possible way that an animal could be happy and satisfied with their life in captivity compared to the wild. This is proven by the diagnosis of ‘zoochosis’ which is a way of describing repetitive and invariant behaviour stereotypically presented by animals that are kept in zoos. In some extreme cases some animals must go on anti-depressants to help with their mental illness. 

 

 

 

Now, although it would be great to completely get rid of zoos, there is an issue that can’t be ignored. Unfortunately, poachers and other dangers that pose a serios threat to animals whilst in their natural habitat exist. However, this doesn’t mean that zoos are the next best option. Unlike zoos, sanctuaries don’t breed, buy, sell, or trade animals. Sanctuaries don’t capture animals; they only acquire them when they’re unable to survive in the wild (facts provided by treehugger.com). This is a much better option to invest in compared to zoos. Overall, there are over 150 verified sanctuaries across the world that work to provide a safer space for endangered animals. If you want to look further into this or want to know how you can help non-profitable sanctuaries, then this is a great website to get you started. https://www.sanctuaryfederation.org