Zoos and Aquariums: How Animals Suffer in Captivity

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About this sample


Words: 541 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Apr 8, 2022

Words: 541|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Apr 8, 2022

Captivity drives animals insane. Zoos limit the natural behavior patterns of animals, including migration and in most cases, flight. Animals who would shun humans in nature have no way of escaping routine contact with them. Many animals in captivity develop neurotic and self-harming behavior, these are commonly known as “stereotypies” and “zoochosis,” that are seldom, if ever, observed in the wild. These neurotic behaviors can make animals partake in certain behaviors, primates may throw feces and eat their own vomit, some birds will pluck out their own feathers, elephants often sway back and forth, tigers pace incessantly, and polar bears are often seen swimming endless figure eights. “Aquatic animals suffer too, a study conducted by the Captive Animals Protection Society concluded that 90 percent of public aquariums had animals who showed stereotypic (neurotic) behavior, such as repeatedly raising their heads above the surface of the water, spinning around an imaginary object, and frequently turning on one side and rubbing along the floor of the tank”. This shows how the struggle is not only happening in zoos, but aquariums aswell. 

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Zoos often attempt to defend what they do by claiming that their breeding programs are under the pretext of conservation, but many of the species that are being bred in zoos aren’t endangered or threatened. The incentive for zoos to breed their animals; baby animals will attract more people to the zoos. Very few, if any of the captive-bred species that face extinction in the wild such as elephants, polar bears, gorillas, tigers, and chimpanzees, will ever be released back into their natural environments to battle declining populations. Captive breeding replenishes zoos’ animal inventories and lures in visitors. 

Zoos claim to be educating their visitors about their animals, when really they are just exploiting them. Keeping animals in cages does nothing to encourage respect for animals. Numerous studies including studies by the zoo industry itself have shown that most zoo visitors simply wander around the grounds, pause briefly at some displays, and spend most of their time on snacks and bathroom breaks. One study of guests of the National Zoo in Washington DC., show that visitors spend less than 8 seconds per snake exhibit and only about one minute with the lions. Researchers have concluded that people treat exhibits like wallpaper. In fact, numerous studies have shown that exhibiting animals in unnatural settings may undermine conservation by leaving the public with the idea that a species must not be in jeopardy if the government is putting them on display and using them for entertainment. Even a study by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) itself has concluded that claims that zoo exhibits might contribute to the conservation of animals “were not substantiated or validated by actual research,” and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has said that it has “sincere doubts” about the conservation benefits from public exhibitions of wildlife and no longer accepts “education” as a basis for issuing Endangered Species Act permits. 

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There are many ways to enjoy animals and learn about them without having to even leave your house by watching educational nature documentaries where animals are acting naturally in their rightful homes, so there is truly no need to get education from zoos where animals are being treated horribly.   

Works Cited

  1. Bostock, S. (2016). Zoos and animal welfare: The need for a new approach. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 19(2), 95-106.
  2. Hosey, G. R. (2008). Stereotypic behavior in zoo animals as a reflection of their welfare state. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 114(3-4), 442-445.
  3. Mason, G. J., & Latham, N. R. (2004). Can't stop, won't stop: Is stereotypy a reliable animal welfare indicator? Animal Welfare, 13, S57-S69.
  4. Clegg, I. L., & Borgerhoff Mulder, M. (2020). Zoos and animal welfare: The importance of positive environments. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 7(1), 47-60.
  5. Marino, L. (2003). Is the “brave new world” of zoos really brave enough? Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 6(4), 241-250.
  6. Clubb, R., & Mason, G. (2003). Natural behavioral biology as a risk factor in carnivore welfare: How analyzing species differences could help zoos improve enclosures. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 81(2), 143-162.
  7. Hancocks, D. (2001). A different nature: The paradoxical world of zoos and their uncertain future. University of California Press.
  8. Rees, P. A. (2008). The ethics of the ark: A response to Bob Brecher. Environmental Values, 17(1), 107-112.
  9. Melfi, V. (2005). Animals in zoos: Conflicting effects of conservation intentions. In D. J. Salem & A. N. Rowan (Eds.), The state of the animals III: 2005 (pp. 65-76). Humane Society Press.
  10. Ling, J., & Milburn, G. (2012). Human visitors to the zoo: A survey of visitors' attitudes towards primates in UK zoos. Anthrozoos, 25(3), 337-353.
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Zoos And Aquariums: How Animals Suffer In Captivity. (2022, April 08). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 21, 2024, from
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