Are zoos are sanctuary for animal preservation, or a cruel side-show for curious human beings?
Save the safe houses for endangered species
Zoos: Wildlife wonder or captivity crisis?
The first zoo opened in Britain in 1931. Since then people have been making arguments against why we shouldn't ‘lock them up’ and how we don’t have the right to keep them in captivity. But, the pros very much outweigh the cons in this argument.
Ecologically speaking, these creatures don’t have the habitat to live in any more. With habitats being cut down for paper and furniture what choice do we have?
Surely it is the lesser of two evils to care for these animals in a safe, protected environment rather than letting them becoming extinct? Don't get me wrong, it is less than ideal to do this. I would much prefer these creatures to be in the wild where they belong. To address this though, it would mean stopping the majority of companies that are cutting down trees in places like the rainforest. I fear by the time this long and drawn out process is completed that we just would be left with an empty rain forest.
Just because an animal is put in captivity doesn't mean it can’t be happy and enjoy its life. When people talk negatively about zoos, they make it sound like the animals there have no quality of life. Personally speaking, from the zoos I have visited, this is just not true. A good zoo provides an enriched habitat in which the animals are never bored, are well cared-for, and have plenty of space to roam freely.
And isn't it our duty as well to protect these endangered species? Without zoos to provide an environment for these animals to thrive in they just wouldn’t exist. Sadly, there are already many species that only exist in captivity. However, there are some species that have been saved from extinction by capturing them all and then releasing larger numbers into the wild. The Micronesian Kingfished was almost wiped out by humans after Brown Tree snakes were introduced to their native island, but with the help of the many breeding programs, animals that are endangered by poaching or lack of mates, can be brought up in numbers to be later released into the wild. Without such programs as help from zoos, we may have tragically lost these amazing creatures forever.
Zoos also give people of all ages a chance to be educated about all these animals and get up close to them. Seeing them in person can motivate people to play a part in saving these vulnerable animals. With donations and sponsorships playing a large part in the conservation and protection of these animals, zoos are a necessary part in getting people involved.
People could say that removing animals from the wild is endangering them further but when you look at the animals taken compared to the animals that have been released it shows that it only has positive results.
Overall, not all people will agree with zoos. You will never be able to convince everyone. But zoos have a positive impact on not just people but the animals lives it saves. Zoos educate people and hopefully will stop the next generation of poachers. Humans, in my opinion, have a duty of care over these animals and I think that zoos are the best way of caring for them.
A zoo can provide a young child’s first glimpse of the majestic lion or a rare opportunity to escape the wildlife-deprived city life which many people today have the misfortune to lead. In an ideal world, zoos would be a perfect solution to many problems. But is this reality?
A huge advantage of zoos, of course, is the fact that they help to preserve endangered species from around the world that would otherwise run the devastating risk of being quickly forced into extinction. It could be argued, for example, that if the dodo population had been provided with the protection that species such as the elephant and tiger are offered in zoos today, the bird may not have died out due to poaching. However, the breeding programmes set up in zoos to prevent the extinction of species are not all benefit for the animals involved. Animals born and raised in captivity will not be allowed to experience their natural way of life in the wild, and even if they are released back into their habitat they may be left with an inability to fend for themselves after years of being fed and cared for by humans on a daily basis. Arguably, therefore, animals would have been better off simply left to their own devices.
A view could be taken that the danger many animal populations face is due to the brutality of human poaching, and therefore we have a duty to the animal kingdom to do what we can to go even a little way towards rectifying the crisis we have brought about. This view would support the continuation of zoos and wildlife parks and the breeding programmes they run and support. However, a contradicting view would stress that the idea that interfering with the animal kingdom has done the animals themselves little good in the past - so why should we be arrogant enough to assume that our meddling with nature needs to continue to save the many species we caused problems for in the first place?
A big financial argument comes into the debate; do zoos and wildlife parks genuinely have the animals’ best interests at heart or are they, as with any other business, driven by dreams of riches and fame? This links to the uncertainty held by many about the living conditions of the animals kept in such places – are they as well-equipped, spacious and humane as they could be or are they designed not to give the animal in question as good a home as it would have in its natural habitat but to fit a budget driven by the hope of profit? If the latter reason was proved to be the incentive behind zoos then there would no doubt be an uproar concerning animal rights, but are we taking advantage of the uncertainty to tell ourselves that this cannot possibly be the case, just to stop our morals complaining?
It could be stated that zoos are a selfish human invention, designed to give us the chance to encounter wonderful animals without needing a plane ticket. The educational benefits are huge; without zoos and wildlife parks we would have to travel across the globe to witness the wonders of the animal kingdom zoos allow us to observe, and this option is unavailable to many. But does this justify our taking animals out of their homes and placing them in an unknown environment simply for our entertainment?
Although zoos are a way of helping the animal populations we have previously - whether or not in full awareness of the consequences of our actions - gone out of our way to destroy, I believe that if animals were able to survive for millions of years without any human interference then the species we have endangered may stand a strong chance on their own if we could just leave them to their own devices. Therefore, I believe that the need for removing animals from their homes and placing them in a confined, unnatural environment would be unnecessary if humans could simply express enough self-control to stop pursuing the animals that, tragically, may soon be forced into extinction.