Should Animals Be Kept in Zoos?
Zoos are premises for the captivity of animals, often in urban areas where many of the animals would not otherwise be found, with the intention of studying the animals and displaying them to the public at large. The predecessor of the zoo was the menagerie, which involved the captivity of birds typically for the entertainment of the aristocracy, and has a long history running back to ancient times. The first modern zoo evolved out of an aristocratic menagerie in Vienna in 1765. Many types of zoo now exist, from the petting zoos that encourage the public to get up and close with the animals to the large nature reserves that provide space for the animals to roam around within and most famously the large, urban zoos like the London Zoo which include elephants, lions and penguins and are usually notable tourist drawcards for the cities concerned. Proponents argue that zoos are beneficial both to the animals themselves, protecting endangered species with specific breeding programs, and the public, as an educational tool to increase both awareness and understanding. Opponents respond that the removal of wild animals from their habitat is wrong, that they should be left in their natural surroundings and not used as tools for public entertainment. (shamelessly taken from our sister site idebate.org)
Please cast your vote after you've read the arguments.
You can also add to the debate by leaving a comment at the end of the page.
Entertainment and Health at its best
Its a win win situation really. Zoo Keepers take good care of animals and people get to view animals at their own pleasure (Which funds the zoo keepers with the money to take care of the animals further). No, not animals are endangered because we destroyed their habitat. For instance, The Tasmanian Devil is endangered as of recent years. For an unknown reason, the Devils have had a wide spread of cancer. However, this is only true for wild Tasmanian Devils. Domesticated Devils have not had this caner problem. They may be in cages and not tied to what we'd think of as the "ideal" home for these animals, but lets face it, these animals are cleaned, fed nutritiously and even given a roof over their head, usually with a "piece of their own environment". Its like being taken off the street as a hobo and living in a luxurious suite, fed meals every day, bathed, regular doctor visits to make sure you're in good shape. Would you complain if this happened to you?
Human understanding can help animals
By taking our children to zoos, by educating them and showing them how beautiful animals are, we are entrusting the animal future to them. If they have had a first hand experience of these animals then they will be more likely to take heed of animal needs in the long run. They will be less likely to buy animal furs or elephant tusks. In turn, they will be more likely to buy animal friendly produce and be more likely to campaign for these animals. Even if a few animals are harmed in the process, the outcome outweighs that harm; more animals will be saved in the future.
We would not tolerate this view if it were placed on humans. We would not force a human to be subjected to inhumane treatment and captivity with the reasoning that they would be saving future humans. We have something that is called integrity. Everyone has it and there is no reason why animals should not be given this grace as well. We cannot subject an animal, against it wishes to captivity and rationed foods by citing the future good for all animals. We should respect every animal, even those in zoos and not offer them up as sacrifice.
By observing animal behaviour we can help those in the wild
Knowledge is our only aid in the fight against global warming and animal protection. We need to know exactly what’s going to happen and how animals will respond in these situations. By sending in specialist animal observers to zoos we can begin to unravel the mystery of how to save these animals for the future events to come. We can discover ways to protect them, we can learn which habitats they can survive in, and we can learn which foods they would be willing to supplement their nutrition from. By learning this, we can help wild animals of the future survive the changing environment.
Keeping animals in zoos can stop them becoming extinct in the wild.
While ideally animals should be free to live in the wild, on occasion their survival as a species becomes threatened, either naturally or artificially. Whatever the reason, zoos have been a major method of preventing animal species from becoming extinct. While it may be the case that some species' extinction has only been delayed by zoos, in others the zoos have been pivotal in breeding new generations and protecting a gene pool while the animal is re-introduced into a more natural environment.
While protecting natural habitat should take precedent over zoos, many of these regions are politically unstable or financially destitute. It is hard to blame someone who values his own families survival over that of an animal. Because many zoos are in wealthy, stable nations, a secure and nurturing environment can be artificially created to help the most endangered animals survive and continue to breed. A "Noahs Ark", if you will.
Rebuttal to "Yes" remark.
Some animals can be successfully released into the wild. See the efforts in New Zealand to have the national bird, the Kiwi, living wild in some protected areas and uninhabited islands, both of which have been largely successful. This has also happened/is happening with a number of other native birds on the brink of extinction.
I fail to see how keeping animal in captivity is going to directly affect the population of the wild animals. You qualify your own argument when you say these endangered animals are bred and then released into a 'more' natural environment. But once bred in captivity, you can allow an animal back into the wild. Either they will go searching for humans and kill in their dismay or they will simply die in the wild for not knowing what to do. Once again, the only benefit in having endangered animals in captivity is that they will never become extinct because we will always have some in zoos, but this is not how endangered animals should be; they would behave differently in a zoo to such an extent that I would not even classify them as the same animal.
Wild Animals Are Not Domesticated
Wild animals have not been domesticated by humans. Simply possessing them for the sake of breeding in the case of an endangered specie really solves nothing. Most of these animals are endangered because of severe devastation to their natural habitat. Even if you repopulate them, where will they go? It's a fools errand. The technology exists to collect genetic information and store embryos and sperm. Breeding them at this point is unfair, unless the intention is to increase zoo's population. Lastly, many of these exotic endangered species are from developing societies where the alternatives created by wealth simple don't exist. It's easy to complain about the destruction of the environment, but most of these people are simply supporting themselves and their families with the only means available to them.
Yes unfortunately as they are protected and saved from humans in zoos.Cant be hunted and cant be killed off with deforestation.I fear they will be in majority in zoos soon enough.As governments of world dont give a damn.But at least not extinct.
The means is not proportionate to what is achieved
It is cruel and inhumane to keep animals in cages purely for human entertainment.
We visit the zoo maybe one day in a year for a few hours and we may gain some trivial sense of joy out of it. However, the animals have to stay in that zoo all year round; against their natural instincts to roam free.
They have no reprieve from their environment. Why should humans think that they can keep animals out of their homes and in glass houses just for human entertainment?
It is neither fair nor proportionate.
Humans get food and medical treatment in jails; does that mean that prisoners are happy or that confinement is not punitive? Freedom for all living things.
This argument assumes that a) The harm suffered by these animals is tremendous and that b) the only value gained from zoos is human entertainment.
a) Zoo keeping is a trained profession. Animals in the zoo have the regular access to good food and they have vets on standby should they fall ill. This is a far more luxurious lifestyle than they would have in the jungle.
b) As stated above, zoos animals have many benefits that wild animals are deprived of. From human understanding to biological study. To see zoos as pure entertainment is myopic.
Whatever the good intentions of zoo-keepers, animals in zoos suffer.
Whatever the good intentions of zoo-keepers, animals in zoos suffer. They are inevitably confined in unnaturally small spaces, and are kept from the public by cages and bars. They suffer psychological distress, often displayed by abnormal or self-destructive behaviour. Aquatic animals do not have enough water, birds are prevented from flying away by having their wings clipped and being kept in aviaries.
There have in the past been many bad zoos and cruel zookeepers. It is imperative that these are reformed and weeded out. Good zoos in which animals are well fed and well looked after in spacious surroundings are becoming the norm and should be encouraged. Zoos can exist without cruelty to animals, however, and so the fact that there are animal welfare problems with some zoos does not meant that all zoos should be shut down.
People visiting zoos will be given the subliminal message that it is OK to use animals for our own ends.
Adults and children visiting zoos will be given the subliminal message that it is OK to use animals for our own ends, however it impinges on their freedom or quality of life; thus zoos will encourage poor treatment of animals more generally. People do not go to zoos for educational reasons they simply go to be entertained and diverted by weird and wonderful creatures seen as objects of beauty or entertainment. As a form of education the zoo is deficient: the only way to understand an animal properly is to see it in its natural environment – the zoo gives a totally artificial and misleading view of the animal by isolating it from its ecosystem.
Zoos nowadays are not marketed as places of entertainment - they are places of education. Most modern zoos have their main emphasis on conservation and education - the reason that so many schools take children to zoos is to teach them about nature, the environment, endangered species, and conservation. Far from encouraging bad treatment of animals, zoos provide a direct experience of other species that will increase ecological awareness.
Problems with the claim that zoos are beneficial because they help to conserve endangered species
There are two problems with the claim that zoos are beneficial because they help to conserve endangered species. First, they do not have a very high success rate – many species are going extinct each week despite the good intentions of some zoos. This is partly because a very small captive community of a species is more prone to inter-breeding and birth defects. Secondly, captive breeding to try to stave off extinction need not take place in the context of a zoo, where the public come to look at captive animals and (often) see them perform tricks. Captive breeding programmes should be undertaken in large nature reserves, not within the confines of a zoo.
One of the main functions of zoos is to breed endangered animals in captivity. If natural or human factors have made a species' own habitat a threatening environment then human intervention can preserve that species where it would certainly go extinct if there were no intervention. There are certainly problems with trying to conserve endangered species in this way but it is right that we should at least try to conserve them. And as long as animals are treated well in zoos there is no reason why conservation, education, and cruelty-free entertainment should not all be combined in a zoo. There is also, of course, a valid role for breeding in different environments such as large nature reserves.
Animal research may be valuable, but it does not need to happen in the context of confinement and human entertainment.
As above, research into animals (when it respects their rights and is not cruel or harmful) may be valuable, but it does not need to happen in the context of confinement and human entertainment. Also, the only way really to understand other species is to study them in their natural habitat and see how they interact socially and with other species of flora and fauna.
As above we should take a 'both-and' approach rather than an 'either-or' approach. Animals can and should be studied in the wild but they can be studied more closely, more rigorously, and over a more sustained period of time in captivity. Both sorts of study are valuable and, as in point 4, there is no reason why this should not be done in the context of a cruelty-free zoo as well as in other contexts.
Animals should be left in the wild
Animals are not made for captivity. They long to roam in the long grass of Africa, they long to chase other animals, and they long to play in large groups. No matter how we may try to replicate their surrounding in a zoo, we will never achieve the full result. Therefore, these animals will never be as happy as they would be in the wild.
We are fighting with animals natural desires to be wild, and this is a battle that humans cannot win without destroying animals at the core.
Predators need to hunt and taking from them their ability to do so; by taming/caging/drugging them is beyond cruel. Excessive human involvement(both hunters/poachers that sell animals to zoos/safaris and those who kill them for their skin/tusks/etc) in the food cycle; has disrupted it considerably(extinction and endangerment of species). Let nature take its course.
How can we measure animal happiness? Would humans be better off in the wild? There are poachers/hunters/animal-predators/other-animals-fighting-for-limiting-resources in the wild at least with animal captivity comes animal security, food is always on the table and there's free medical.
Would 'we' prefer the wild?
The truth is that these claims are based around the logically-skewed ideas of neo-classical animal rights groups. But their arguments have little or no factual basis/merit. We cannot measure animal happiness. We cannot really say that they would be best left in the wild.
All we can do is review at the information at hand. Domesticated animals; treated well, would you say they were unhappy? Well then how can we argue that taking animals out of the wild is wrong? We cannot. So rather than banning zoos, we should ensure that relevant safety measures are in place to ensure that these animals are as well looked after as possible.
Species have come and gone from time immemorial( Dinosaurs are extinct without our interference); Human beings are part of the animal kingdom thus food cycle and our involvement is part of nature.
What do you think?