Zoos are like internment camps and should be shut down. Animals deserve the right to live out their lives in their natural habitat, not be the source of human entertainment. Zoos are more detrimental to animals than they are good for them, even though there are conservation efforts and educational purposes for having animals in captivity. The negative aspects far outweigh any positive effects when it comes to having animals in captivity due to poor living conditions, failure to educate, and psychological trauma.
Generally, the living conditions in zoos are not ideal, nor do they ever provide sufficient space for the animals. Even under the best circumstances, zoos cannot replicate the habitat the animals have in the wild (peta. org). Animals in captivity cannot indulge in some of the natural tendencies that they have such as flying, swimming, hunting, and choosing a partner. Animals in zoos are forced to live in confined spaces and are very much bored most of the time. These animals have no control over their lives once they are in captivity.
Virginia McKenna who starred in the movie “Born Free,” said that her participation made her realize that animals belong in the wild, not in zoos. “(peta. org) Animals do not only suffer physically, but mentally as well due to their lack of freedom. Unfortunately, most zoos have to find ways to cut cost or add attractions to lure in more visitors. Money that should be used to provide sufficient care to the animals is used for upgrades for landscaping and gift shops. The captive animals end up having to deal with the repercussions of such decisions.
For example, in 2005, two polar bears died at Saint Louis zoo, one with the name Penny died due to an infection because of two dead fetus being left in her uterus (Peta. org). Animals suffer more than from just neglect in zoos. Too often zoos consider profit over the animals’ wellbeing. When an elephant named Dunda was being transferred from San Diego Zoo to San Diego Wild Animal Park, she was chained, pulled to the ground, and beaten with ax handles for two days (Tuyl 87). The poor living conditions in zoos cause preventable suffering for all of the animals in captivity.
In addition to poor living conditions, zoos claim that there is educational opportunities for visitors to the zoo, however, most people are there only for the entertainment that the animals can sometimes give. When an animals is seen pacing because they are most likely bored from the confined space they are occupying, visitors just move on to another display were they will hopefully encounter an animal that can do tricks. If anything the failure to educate visitors about the facts of animals in captivity shy away from the fact that wild animals being in zoos is just not good for them.
If people knew what happened beyond the few minutes they get to spend with the animals, they probably would not want to go to the zoo. Of course, that would not be advantageous for the zoos because they need the funds and employment. Generally, the exhibits for each animal doesn’t even provide sufficient information about the animals natural tendencies. A CAPS study found that forty-one percent of animals on display in UK aquariums had no signs of identification of their species, which is the most basic information (captiveanimals. org).
So, not only are visitors not educated but they are oblivious to the life that animals live in captivity. More importantly, animals in captivity can develop psychological trauma due to the poor living conditions and lack of a stimulating environment. Animals have very little physical exercise and little opportunity for mental stimulation as well. This along with the poor living conditions often result in abnormal and self-destructive behavior known as “zoochosis” (peta. org). A worldwide study of zoos by the Born Free Foundation showed that zoochosis is widespread in confined animals around the globe.
One study even found that elephants spend twenty-two percent of their time engaging in abnormal behaviors such as biting cage bars, head bobbing, and pacing (Tuyl 87). It has been proven time and time again that it is not healthy for animals to be in captivity, both mentally and physically. On the contrary, there are conservation and reintroduction efforts that are made by zoos. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which is the nation’s largest nonprofit association for the advancement of zoos have shown that conservation efforts have saved species who were on the brink of extinction (Tuyl 69).
However, while there are a few good zoos out there, according to Nation Geographic of the 2,400 animal enclosures licensed by the US Department of Agriculture, only 212 are under the strict rules of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, while the others are not. In fact, it is estimated by David Hancocks, a former 30 year zoo director, that only three percent of the budgets for the 212 zoos even goes toward conservation. The rest of the money budgeted, which is billions of dollars, goes towards marketing and exhibits. Also, although there have been some animals reintroduce to the wild, most never do.
Former associate director of biological programs at the National Zoo in Washington, D. C, found that only 16 out of 145 reintroduction programs worldwide ever even restored animals to the wild. Even of those 16, most were carried out by government agencies, not zoos (National Geographic). So, while there are some conservation and reintroduction efforts, it is clear that most zoos care more about profit the car and conservation of the animals. In conclusion, zoos have been proven to be more like internment camps than a sanctuary for animals.
They should be shut down and every effort should go towards reintroducing the animals to the wild if possible. While there are some conservations efforts, most fail not only at conserving a species but reintroducing them back into the wild as well. The poor living conditions, lack of education, and psychological trauma make for unnecessary suffering and unhappiness for animals in captivity. These animals should not be for human entertainment, but should be able to live in peace in their natural habitat, without human intervention.