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Animals Should not Be Kept in Captivity: Arguments Against Zoos, Aquariums, and Circuses

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Animals kept in zoos, aquariums, and circuses are treated poorly by humans and inevitably suffer of disease, pain, starvation, and fear so they will perform seamlessly for the public. Animals are forced by their owners to carry out pointless tricks and performances and are almost always deprived of their normal behavior. Animals are ripped away from their families and out of their natural habitat by zoo, aquarium, and circus workers and usually do not live their full lifespan due to the mental and physical abuse that comes from the captive place they reside in. They are injected with various drugs because their unnatural behavior interferes with the entertainment they are meant to perform. Animals do not belong in tanks, cages, or exhibits and should not be treated with such poor care and neglect. People should not visit zoos, aquariums, or circuses.

Wild orcas and dolphins spend their life swimming far distances every day and when in captivity, they are only allowed to swim in tiny circles (Aquariums and Marine Parks). These two animals communicate and navigate with one another by echolocation. When placed in an arena with restricted walls the vibrations from their calls bounce off the pools glass and drive the sea animals insane. Being in a small pool or tank impairs the animal’s mental health and affects their physical health as well. Some orcas break their teeth on the metal bars containing them in hopes of chewing their way to freedom. This often leads to oral hygiene issues and can end in the death or serious illness. Deaths and sickness in marine parks and aquariums are common occurrences that are neglected and overlooked. Orcas that usually live for hundreds of years, only live a few from the consequences of the tight spaces, synthetic food, punishments. Animals endure severe trauma from the confined spaces which drive them insane, gruesome attempts at escaping, and harsh punishments that make them fearful.

The adult male population of the orcas may also suffer from a collapsed dorsal fin if kept in captivity. The dorsal fin, which is used for stabilization, is flopped over and unusable for the animal. This is caused by dehydration, lack of exercise, and unnatural diets and can be extremely painful for the whale. Collapse may also be caused by the lack of swimming. Killer whales are know to swim vast distances every day and are constantly in motion. The water in the ocean provides pressure and keeps the tissues inside the fin healthy and upright. Dorsal fins may collapse due to the orca spending most of its time on the surface of the water. The whale is not able to swim far distances or dive too deep, therefore there is no pressure or water support on the fin (Killer Whale Dorsal Fin Collapse). The results of the condition from immobility may be deadly to the fish.

Natural life in zoo captivity is destroyed for animals (Smith 1). Zoo animals become lonely and bored with their surroundings because they are kept within certain boundaries their whole life. Animals that naturally walk and roam for nearly ten miles a day are not able to. Living among small, enclosed exhibits, animals obtain a condition called “zoochosis”. This causes animals to pace, sway, bite bars, excessively vomit, and excessively groom (Zoochotic Behavior). This disease is sometimes combated by the use of mood changing drugs and medicines so the animals are showcase ready to the public. This is a form of abuse. The drugs are applicable to severely harm the animal and may be detrimental. The animals also face death through escape attempts. The animals lack interest and freedom so they try to free themselves from the metal bars and usually end up scoring injuries or dead.

Thriving for the animals also becomes difficult if the weather is unnatural and the landscape is artificial. The confinement and the small area leads to arthritis, diabetes, bone fractures, and tuberculosis (Smith 1). The diseases the animals obtain are incurable and slowly deteriorate the animals health. Animals not only face medical issues from their enclosures, but face mental issues as well. The animals behind the bars suffer for the satisfaction of humans that pay money to observe the animal for a short period of time.

Circuses are family oriented shows of entertainment that travel the world for performances. The circus may be fun to watch, but the animal treatment is very cruel and harsh. Ninety-six percent of animals that belong to the circus spend their whole lives in cages and chains. Occasionally, the animal is allowed out of its contained space, but it will face brutal punishment if it engages in natural behavior. Sleeping and eating are also difficult for the animals. They are placed in small containers that lack temperature control and are constantly traveling and moving. While traveling, the animals are often denied food and water until a certain destination is reached. Starvation and motion sickness plague most of the animals while on their road trip to a new location.

The tricks performed by the animals in circuses are often painful and scary for the animal to do. For example, tigers have a natural fear of fire, but are still forced to hop over rings and through hoops of it and are often burned. To teach the animals to perform these tricks the trainer will often use forms of pain or food deprivation. This includes whipping, poking, and occasionally the animal will be shocked with an electrical prod (Enjoying the Circus?). The animals learn to do these performances through fear of pain and being harmed. Performances may also be drug induced for cooperation purposes. Animals should not fear humans, suffer from starvation, or be injected with anomalous drugs to carry out tricks for shows and entertainment.

Zoos, aquariums, and circuses should not be visited. The brutal treatment within them is inhumane and cruel. Not only are the animals confined and unable to practice natural behavior, but punished or drugged if they behave as if they would in the wild. This creates the conflict of disease and death of the animal and not only directly affects that specific animal, but in turn affects the species as a whole. Animals physically and mentally decline when kept in small, suffocating cages, boxes, and tanks and they should not be on display or forced to perform meaningless tricks. Animals belong in the wild so they can survive and roam freely to exercise their natural behavior and live a happier life that does not involve metal bars and artificial landscape. 

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Animals Should Not Be Kept In Captivity: Arguments Against Zoos, Aquariums, And Circuses. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 29, 2022, from
“Animals Should Not Be Kept In Captivity: Arguments Against Zoos, Aquariums, And Circuses.” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021,
Animals Should Not Be Kept In Captivity: Arguments Against Zoos, Aquariums, And Circuses. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 May 2022].
Animals Should Not Be Kept In Captivity: Arguments Against Zoos, Aquariums, And Circuses [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Dec 16 [cited 2022 May 29]. Available from:
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