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Discussion on Whether Animals Should Be Kept in Zoos

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Due to many tragedies happening in zoos, wildlife sanctuaries number of questions arises about the safety of animals and humans and whether zoo is the place for animals to live. Many tragedies like Drunk women sneaks into zoo, bitten by tiger, Omaha’s Henry Dorrly Zoo and killing of the gorilla in the Cincinnati Zoo, Tourist gets his jacket ripped off by a panda inside Chinese Zoo. These situations raised a question whether the zoo officials are providing, doing enough for the wild animals. Zoos have changed animals’ natural way of living which affected their physical health and have developed fear in them. Zoo officials claim that animals living in their facilities are provided with number of facilities than they would get in wildlife and it’s beneficial for animals and humans as well. However, the benefits we get can be received by other ways where no animal will be in cage for their life time. Many people are in favor of keeping animals in cages whereas there are many people opposing them with valid proofs. It’s not fair to take freedom from any animal by putting them in cages. As a result, it’s unjustified whether to keep animals in zoos or not.

Zoo is the name given to the facility in which all the animals live, breed and perform their life activities and it is a place of tourist interest and local visitors. Zoos were first opened in 18th century and we still have many zoos in the world. They have been modified along the time. The Ancient Zoos were small, less developed and the cages for the animals were really tiny and had no space for animals’ movements. People taking care didn’t knew much about the biology, about their diet, about the reproduction, were inviting many diseases for animals and humans as well. Whereas, Modern Zoos are comparably bigger and have larger cages, separate and cages are cleanable and are sterile, some of zoos are cageless and are open fields. Zoo officials taking care are more educated and have more knowledge about animals’ habitats and behaviors. Scientists and various organizations are working on making zoos a better place for animals. But still cannot provide natural habitat to animals.

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Zoos are playing an important role in educational and awareness fields. Zoos provide us with the closer look to the animals which we would not be able to see in our life time otherwise. It is completely different to see animals in real life then to read about them in documentaries. We are able to touch them, feel them whereas, others said that we have never seen dinosaurs and still kids are crazier to know about their lifestyle, physical appearance. The incident of jacket ripped by a polar bear proves that animals are afraid of humans and want to live away and out of their sight if their habitat allows them. Zoos provide a number of job opportunities to number of people like animal care, service workers, animals control workers, making an average of $ 40,000 annually. It is the main reason why Zoo officials do not want zoos to go away. As these animals attracts the tourists toward zoos. But on other side the people working are not completely aware of animal habitats and are not trained properly and are the one to get attacked by these animals. A trainer was dragged to death by a whale in Florida, Sea world.

Some people argued that zoos give easy access to animals to study about different diseases. In 1995 unknown disease was killing elephants in large number, Smithsonian’s National Zoo was the first to discover the EEHV (Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesviruses) virus after the death of 16-month-old Asian elephant. This EEHV virus was proven to be the cause of elephant death. New York Zoo in 1999 was first to find the reason behind the death of American crows (Corves brachyrhynchos) which was due to an African flavivirus named WNV (West Nile Virus). Before this elephant and Crows were dying because of unknown causes. However, other people are asking what about the animals suffering from stress, loneliness, which is inviting many diseases towards these animals. While visiting a zoo everyone one of us must have seen an animal in its cage sitting on a corner, is attacked by stress and lack of freedom. Zoo officials are calming that these animals are well taken care of, plenty of space in their cages to move and are open so they can see movements around them and are trying to provide natural surroundings. Whereas, the food animals are given is not what they eat in their natural habitat and is full of chemicals and artificial flavors, animal bodies are not completely adapted for these yet and because of this some animals do not eat properly. Animals like tigers, lions eat fresh meat where as they are given stored meat, which is not what they like, In Berlin Zoo a woman had nearly become dinner for the hungry polar bears.

Zoological institution is practicing breeding on endangered species so they can save the species from getting extinct. Over breeding of these species can lead to over population of that particular species. However, breeding is a natural process and repeated breeding is leading to cause disabilities in the new born animals. This process of captive breeding is very expensive and but unfortunately enough funding to perform this process leads to offspring with problems or inborn diseases. Other said its better than spending money on captive breeding we should spend on finding the reason behind these animals being endangered and extinct.

Modern Zoos are bigger than the Ancient Zoos but still doesn’t have enough space for animals as they have in natural habitat. Their claim about proving open atmosphere is not true. These wild animals walk miles in search of their food and these zoos have taken all that from them. They are provided food within the cage and they are not allowed to interact with same species or others. Zoological institutions are collecting serums of this animals which is easy to do in zoos, however if we really want to save animal species all this is also possible in their natural habitats. It is also experienced that animals in the zoos are more dangerous than in their natural habitats, which is due to the fact that their freedom is taken away and they are controlled by humans. The tragedy of killing a gorilla to save a visitor who feel in the cage shows how save animals are in cages and this would have never happened if they were in their natural habitat. We are disturbing their habitats, putting them in cages away from freedom and still killing them to save humans is it fair?

Animals should not be kept zoos. These animals (who cannot speak for their well beings) should not be used for our benefits. We can express our feeling, stress but these animals have to live with that. Channels like National Geography show us animals living in their natural habitat which is more beautiful and informative as they can perform different actions which are restricted in zoos. There is a lot of improvement to be made in these modern zoos to even compare them to animals’ natural habitats. The concept of keeping animals in cages is needed to change, they should be left free in their habitat, all animals in one surrounding so, that animals have enough space to move and interact and zoological institutes have easy access to these animals.

Works Cited

  1. Bono, Sal. “a Frightening Animal Encounters: When a day at the Zoo Becomes a Nightmare” CBS interactive @2019 Inside Edition Inc. ( June 3, 2016) https://www.insideedition.com/headlines/16732-9-frightening-animal-encounters-when-a-day-at-the-zoo-becomes-a-nightmare
  2. Grajal, Alejandro. “Fostering a new relationship between Humans and Nature” @ 2019 center for Humans and Nature. https://www.humansandnature.org/fostering-a-new-relationship-between-humans-and-nature
  3. “National Elephant Herpesvirus Laboratory” Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/national-elephant-herpesvirus-laboratory
  4. Royster, Sara. “ Working with Animals”, Career outlook, U.S Bureau of a labor Statics, (April, 2015) https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/working-with-animals.htm
  5. Roehrig, T. John. “West Nile Virus in the united states- A historical Perspective ( December 10, 2013) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3967162/
  6. Temple, Emily. “Captive Breeding Programs: The Pros and Cons to Building an “Arc” by emtemble ( April 21, 2015) https://wp.natsci.colostate.edu/findingporpoise/captive-breeding-programs-the-pros-and-cons-to-building-an-arc/

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