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My Opinion and Discussion of The Reasons for and Against Zoos

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Not zoos are morally wrong is a topic on which people’s views differ greatly. We all have memories of going to the zoo on a family trip when we were younger, but do these fond memories really justify keeping animals in captivity? In this essay I will discuss the reasons for and against zoos and then provide my opinion.

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The first argument showing the positive aspects of zoos I will be discussing is that zoos help save endangered species and can save wildlife. Zoos can be effective in protecting animals from poaching. This is very important for animals such as elephants as they are constantly in danger of poachers in the wild due to the ivory in their tusks. Rhinos are another species which would benefit from being protected from ivory poachers as they are commonly hunted for their precious tusks. Some zoos also offer breeding programs which can help save a species from the brink of extinction – for example the California condor. These birds were very close to extinction but were saved by a breeding program set up by Los Angeles Zoo. Similarly, there are some zoos that will also rescue foreign and exotic pets that have been taken away from their owners or that owners no longer want. This shows that zoos can be beneficial to animal’s welfare.

Another argument in favour of zoos is that they are educational and beneficial to humans. Having animals in zoos has educational purposes as we get to experience the animals in person and see their behaviours for ourselves. Furthermore, seeing the animals in real life is more special and personal than seeing them in pictures or documentaries. Zoos are also very important places for families to bring them together and also educate younger children in the process. Zoos are often the first place parents will think to take their children for a day out on a nice day as it is enjoyable no matter what age you are. Younger children can also have educational benefits from visiting zoos as they will be seeing animals in real life rather than in pictures and documentaries. Zoos can also be very important to the tourism industry which can sustain economies and supply jobs for people interested in animal welfare.

However, there are many arguments against the existence of zoos, one of these is that they are against animal rights. Keeping animals in captivity for our pleasure is cruel and inhumane as many of these animals are torn away from their families and from their home. Zoos cannot physically provide the amount of space that the animals would be used to in the wild, for example, polar bears kept in captivity will have 1 million times less space than what they would in their natural habitat. Another example of this is that lions in zoos have 300,000 times less space than they would in the wild. Due to the vastness of their habitats, there is no way a zoo could provide such space. The Arctic has an area of 10.42 square miles, where polar bears would be used to having space to roam and living in freezing conditions. Whereas in a zoo they will have nothing like that amount of space and be taken away from their climate. Similarly smaller, less reputable zoos tend to have a lack of space for the animals and often just scrape past the quality checks done by the Animal Welfare Act.

Another argument against zoos is that they are cruel and animals can be mistreated in them. A Freedom for Animals investigator found and filmed very unwell animals being left untreated and a monkey who had been isolated and fed junk food that was harmful to it. A government funded survey found that only 75% of elephants in British enclosures are above a healthy weight. This shows that some animals do not have the proper nutrition in zoos. Many animals in Britain also show signs of behavioural problems: for example, lions in UK zoos and safari parks and been found to spend almost half of their waking hours ‘pacing’ which is a common sign of behavioural problems. -More information here-

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In conclusion, the arguments I have provided in this essay have led me to believe that zoos are morally wrong and inhumane. This is because many of the animals in Britain show health concerns and I find this very upsetting. I believe that taking animals away from their natural habitats is very damaging and I think that sanctuaries are a much more effective way of saving endangered species. Although I do have a lot of fond memories from zoos, I believe they are a violation of animal rights and think it is wrong to use real living animals as a source of education and entertainment.

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