should animals be kept in zoos

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  1. I am half and half, please just hear me out here. I agree with animals (including elephants) in good zoos as long as they are being properly taken care of as the majority of species live longer in good captivity than they would do in the wild and they are far safer than their wild cousins are as they are far less likely to be hunted, shot, run over, trapped in snares, caught for the illegal wildlife trade, die from preventable diseases etc. There are good zoos but then there are also a lot of bad zoos, such as the one Mali the elephant was kept in and many others. Admittedly, I can’t comment on zoos in the USA or Canada etc as I have never seen them for myself but where I live in the UK, Virtually all the zoos really care deeply about their animals (I have seen this first hand) and have made tremendous progress for elephants and other animals. Please look at these links if you don’t believe me and say that good zoos haven’t helped animals in captivity and in the wild in some way:
    All these things above wouldn’t have been possible without good zoos. Also, don’t forget that Jane Goodall seems to support good zoos here: and here: . A quote from herself: “6. ‘I’m always being asked again and again, “Jane, what do you think of zoos?” Groups who believe all zoos should be closed clearly have not spent the time I have out in the wild. They haven’t seen the threats destroying chimpanzee habitat; they don’t understand what it’s like to watch a chimp struggle, wounded and lame from a wire snare. But I do. I remember sitting with a group of chimps in an American zoo once. They had a really nice enclosure and I was watching the adults groom each other and the young ones play. As I watched, I remember thinking of the chimpanzee groups I had seen in the wild who are living day to day in fear. Put yourself in the position of chimpanzees for a minute. A chimp living in a zoo where people know them, love them, understand them and protect them or a chimp in the wild who may have lost their mother the week before, watching another member of the troop as they’re wounded by a bullet from a poacher. Which would you rather be? I’d rather be in the group in the zoo. And certainly in the group here at Monarto Zoo; now that’s a good life for a chimp.” In this article here: and even David Attenborough and great conservation charity Fauna & Flora agree with and are sponsors of good zoos too. As David Attenborough once said “in an ideal world, we wouldn’t need zoos” but sadly, we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world where nature and wildlife is sadly disappearing all around us, human overpopulation is growing and the only places one day you will be able to see animals if we all don’t change soon enough would be in a good zoo, such as what it was like for partial snails (who were extinct in the wild not long ago), if it wasn’t for good zoos breeding them, releasing them and saving them from extinction, they would be gone forever! Other animals that would also have been gone forever if it wasn’t for good zoos also include the Scimitar oryx, the Przewalski’s wild horse, Socorro Dove, Wyoming Toads, condors and so many more. You cannot “Tar all zoos with the same brush”! But I will agree that yes, sadly there are zoos out there that are bad that only care about profit and don’t care about the animals at all, such as Copenhagen zoo but not all zoos are bad! Not all zoos still have 19th century conditions for animals anymore! Good zoos are now for research, education and conservation, not pure entertainment anymore! All zoos need money to properly care for their animals and help in conservation, that is true but then again, sanctuaries also need money to properly care for their animals too, so isn’t that exploitation in a way too? There are also zoos that rescue animals from awful situations and give them a good, species specific home like a sanctuary does here:
    There are multiple discussions around all this:
    One very interesting thing I found was that PETA (people for the ethical treatment of animals) claim to want to shut down all zoos yet there is a link here where they actually worked with accredited zoos and sent some animals rescued to accredited zoos. Why would an organisation so against zoos send animals to an accredited zoo of they claimed all zoos are bad? The link is here: and the text reads: “Now, Courthouse News reports that the zoo is totally empty. Through another legal settlement, PETA was given permission to relocate all of its animals to sanctuaries and accredited zoos.”

  2. Thank you – I also feel torn about this topic. I categorically agree that animals should not be exploited and the information you presented certainly suggests that most zoos in some form or other will be responsible for this. In particular I found the point about animals that are not endangered being a large percentage of the zoo animals a display of this exploitation.

    Where I am torn is the aspect of conservation. No doubt there is exploitatation of the non-endangered animals. I presume having these animals however helps generate revenue that then can also be plugged into conservation. Does this make it right however?

    Equally – if I could wish for a perfect world, there would not be any endangered species in the first place, as first and foremost we would be concentrating on all the human impact we are having that makes us responsible for this as a race in the first place.

    Unfortunately here we are though – in a world where we have driven a multitude of animals to the point of extinction. So do we accept that endangered species will more than likely become extinct, or do we plug some money into conservation with zoos?

    Ultimately I think that working and supporting sanctuaries, and supporting organisations that rally to address the human impact we are having on the world is probably where I will put my efforts and money.

    I came to read this article as I was not sure if it was ok for me to buy tickets for a ‘light creatures’ show at the Adelaide Illuminate festival. After reading this , I feel it would not sit right with me if I went so I have decided against it.

    Hoping and wishing for a world where we all are connected to nature and are looking after all our animals.

    Thank you for this article.

  3. Thanks for the article! I’m writing an essay on this, and it really helped!

  4. I have to write an argumentative essay about why animals should or should not be kept in zoos. It was very interesting hearing other people’s thoughts, and I definitely agree with you. I went to a zoo yesterday to see how things worked, and I feel like the animals would be happier and more comfortable in the environments that they belong in.

    1. Yeah, it really brings things home when you visit a zoo. Good luck with your essay. I’m sure it will be interesting!

  5. John Resch says:

    Without zoos, many animals would be extinct at this point. There are many great zoos in the world doing excellent work in conservation. There is always a place for a good zoo, the problem is the bad zoos give them all a bad name. Without zoos in the future, a good majority of animals will go extinct. Animals typically live longer healthier happy lives in the great zoos.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. They don’t work for us.

  6. Tommorow we are going to write an persuasive essay, I chose the topic: Should animals be kept in zoos and circus? This article help me a lot! Thanks so much! I also doesn’t think that animals shouldn’t be kept in captivity because:
    Animal’s mental health (Elephant walk 25km a day, zoochosis)
    Behavioral probs (They get depressed, psychologically disturbed, frustrated, they harm each other, become ill, go hungry, and are forced to endure extreme and unnatural temperatures)
    Loose freedom (Bird clip wings, can’t migrate)
    Lost unique characteristics (Forced to perform tricks because afraid)
    Children learn animal okay to be in cage
    Animals live longer in wild (more happy, already adapted)
    Animals experienced cruelty during performance (Elephant ride people hit elephants with axe, perform because they’re afraid of what will happen if they don’t.)
    Organism fairness (animal entertaining is only for human)

    And a lot more!
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Nicole, your essay topic sounds very interesting! I especially like the point of children thinking it’s okay for animals to be in zoo cages. I may have to update this post 🙂 I’m glad you found this article to be helpful, and thank you for taking the time to comment and add your ideas.

  7. Thank you for this article! I think that animals shouldn’t be kept in zoos. Zoos do not provide natural habitats, and that zoos put unnecessary stress on animals.

  8. Thanks for your well balanced approach/argument. I have to admit that I have struggled with this and the possible benefits that zoos provide. Plus, I loved going to them both to connect with animals in some way and the be in some kind of nature since the grounds are sometimes lovely. Also, in more urban areas such as I am now, zoos provide some of the only means to make those connections. However in the time since i have moved from being a vegetarian to being vegan, I have found my views have changed and I know longer feel that zoos are acceptable. Though I do wonder what one then does with wild animals that do need to be rehabilitated as most wildlife rehabilitation places I know of deal with native animals rather than larger marine and exotic animals. Also, I continue to question whether animal sanctuaries are actually not another form of a zoo. Thanks again for the post.

    I wonder if you would consider taking a similar looking at animals that are used to assist people such as guide dogs and monkeys.

    1. Hi Jacquie, it sounds like we’re on the same page. I wonder the same things when it comes to exotic wildlife, but I’m sure some services provide support. How it gets funded is another question. But I think it’s the question we should focus on, instead of lumping it together with the often exploitative institution of zoos. I do feel that sanctuaries, while far from perfect, are different from zoos, in the sense that their business model and the kind of animals they keep is entirely different.
      Hmm, I never thought about animals who are used to assist humans. I’ve put it on my list to investigate. Thank you for the suggestion.

  9. Thanks for this article! I‘ve always had the same conflicting feelings about zoos, but ultimately agree with you about the ethical issues.
    I volunteer at a wildlife rehab center that will nurse and release injured wildlife if they can be released; if they’re not able to be released because of the extent of their injuries, they live permanently at the center. It’s amazing how many people have never seen common animals and birds in our region of the country! It’s a great opportunity to educate people and get them excited to go on their own adventures outdoors.

    1. Hi Cece, it’s so refreshing to get insights for someone who has experience at wildlife centres. You’re right—there are so many beautiful animals to see within your area. Thank you for volunteering and helping animals.

  10. Very interesting read. I agree completely. In the end, as you also state, it is really very simple. No animal should be kept in captivity unable to live the life they could and should be living. And also, it is truly the most magical and exciting when you encounter an animal in the wild. <3

    1. Thanks, Sarah! You’re so right. Even just this morning Maša and I relocated a lost frog—it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it was a magical experience to interact with a wild animal in the yard.