However, over the decades zoos have dramatically changed and now include educational programs for conservation and preservation of the habitat and animals and research that focuses mainly on genetic diversity(Bertram, Bryan). Landscape immersion is a new way of designing the layout of the exhibits to provide the animals with living conditions that replicate their natural habitat as close as possible(Good Zoo Guide Online).
Zoos are able to eliminate improper feeding and inadequate animal exposure complaints by using the landscape immersion approach. Conserving animals and their habitats is how zoos play a crucial role in preventing extinction.
Animals are bred for multiple reasons including placement in other zoos or a return to the wild. Many of the animals in captive breeding and reintroduction programs have had their natural habitats deforested.
Captive pandas have had the hardest time surviving after birth, but with years of research conducted by both American and Chinese zoos, they are starting to succeed. In order to prevent extinction in the wild, pandas must remain in captivity(Good Zoo Guide Online).
For example, cheetahs risk becoming extinct because their habitat is dwindling, and they are inbreeding which weakens the species. The quantity of the land has diminished, and the animals are not able to migrate into other “genetic” pools because humans are building civilizations between two wild places (American Wildlife Federation).
One problem with captive breeding is that unless the endangered animals’ habitats are preserved, then they will have nowhere to go beyond the zoo (American Wildlife Federation). People have become separated from the natural world, and they have become more reliant on technological and domestic environments(The Humane Society of the United States).
Many argue that zoos are not needed in today’s society because it is depressing to see animals in cages. Some people believe that pictures are a good enough substitute for viewing animals and that zoos are fundamentally wrong.
This animal is almost ubiquitous in zoos and few do not keep groups of these pretty primates as they breed well in captivity and the public are fond of them. One bad year or a new disease could wipe out those that are left, and small and fragmented populations will be vulnerable to inbreeding so even a single loss can be keenly felt.
Giraffe is another species that are very common in zoos and unlike the lemurs are very widespread being found in numerous countries across much of sub-Saharan Africa. While less dramatic than the lemurs, this is obviously a major loss and again, whole populations (which some scientists think are in fact unique species) are on the verge of extinction.
Some biologists consider this a separate species of giraffe and with only 1500 alive in the wild the captive population is a critical resource to their long term survival. In may not be long until ring-tailed lemurs and many other species are only held in zoos and their loss from the world would be otherwise both tragic and irreversible.
There will, I suspect, always be resistance to the arguments for keeping animals in captivity and I will not defend those bad zoos desperately in need of improvement or closure. But if we wish to keep any real measure of biodiversity on the planet, we may lean on zoos and Aquarian far more than many realize.
If even common and popular species can lose a huge percentage of their populations in a few years, it may be too late to save them with even the best breeding programs or conservation efforts in the wild. The killing of Laramie, the silver back gorilla, at the Cincinnati Zoo has sparked a massive debate.
The boy’s mother had lost track of him, long enough that he crawled over a wall and fell 10 feet into a moat at the bottom. Laramie stood over the child, as if protecting him from the people yelling above, then grabbed the boy’s arm and jerked him through the water.
Tranquilizing the gorilla wasn’t an option, the zoo director would later say, because the sedative takes time. The openness of Laramie’s enclosure, the cliffs separated by a moat, were designed to lend it a more natural feel for viewers, and to simulate wild environment for the gorillas.
It is a departure from the bars and sanitized tile floors of past zoo design. As people become more sensitive to the lives of these animals, they’ve understood how flat concrete and tight confinement can cause depression, even phobia, in everything from donkeys to snow leopards.
As Benjamin Wallace-Wells wrote two years ago in a piece for New York Magazine titled, “The Case for the End of the Modern Zoo ”: But concern for caged animals has caught enough mainstream interest that New York and California introduced bills that would outlaw killer whales kept in captivity.
Their focus on killer whales is in large part owed to a 2013 documentary called Blackish, but it proves that it has become a concern for more than a fringe of animal-rights advocates. So much so, that last March, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment said it would stop breeding captive killer whales.
And if keeping an orca in large tank is unethical, then why not an elephant, a tiger, or a 17-year-old western lowland gorilla? In the 1980s, a study of animals at the San Diego Zoo found some had died from frequent tranquilizing, malnutrition, and that some had suffered repeated injuries while being transported.
This was partly the cause for more natural-looking enclosures––like the gorilla exhibit in Cincinnati––because “empty, boring, barren enclosures” can cause depression or aggression in some animals, including primates, according to a study by Plymouth University, in England. Of course, there’s TV, “but that really does pale next to seeing a living creature in the flesh, hearing it, smelling it, watching what it does and having the time to absorb details,” wrote David Hone, a paleontologist and writer who has defended zoos.
Today, thanks in part to the Los Angeles Zoo, there are hundreds of condors living in captivity, and about 75 have been released back into the wild. The first modern zoos emerged in the 19th century, but have changed drastically since, slowly becoming more hospitable toward animals as people’s empathy toward them grows.
At Utopia, BIG, the architecture firm, designed a 300-acre zoo without bars, fences or glass, which it said makes for the “best possible and freest possible environment for the animals.” The first phase is scheduled to open in 2019. And though people can walk through tunnels and poke their heads up for a closer look, in this design it’s not dangerous animals like the silver back gorilla that are caged, it’s the humans.
I’ll start by saying that personally I’m fundamentally against zoos, but I do understand some arguments why they should exist. My main reason for being against zoos is because I don’t agree with caging animals for our entertainment.
The memory of a polar bear pacing back and forth in a very small enclosure in a Yorkshire zoo has stuck with me. Zoos can help to save endangered species by keeping them in a ‘safe’ environment.
If a zoo has a breeding program, this is another way to protect endangered species which may have trouble finding suitable mates in the wild. Fostering empathy… By seeing an animal up close, the public might be encouraged to be more empathetic to a species that is facing extinction in the wild.
They might put 2 and 2 together and realize the orangutan they saw is in jeopardy due to the products they buy (read about Palm Oil here). AZA represents more than 230 facilities in the United States and overseas, which collectively draw more than 200 million visitors every year.
Like the polar bear that’s haunted me for over 35 years, animals in captivity often suffer from boredom and stress. More often than not they become part of a never-ending chain of zoos, safari parks, circuses, canned hunting facilities and even the exotic pet trade.
Surplus animals can be sold onto other zoos (or safari parks, circuses etc) but many are just killed. You might remember back in 2014 when the Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark killed Marius the giraffe.
Wildlife encounters at zoos might be an unforgettable experience for children or adults, but they are stressful and can be harmful to the animals. Zoo visitors often don’t act responsibly and put the animals lives in danger due to their stupidity or lack of care.
“A place where birds or animals can live and be protected, especially from being hunted or dangerous conditions” But for those that do actually rehabilitate wildlife and protect endangered species I think there is an argument for them in today's world.
But until people around the world care more about life than money I’m afraid there’s little chance of certain species surviving without a helping hand from zoos. Sadly I don’t feel like it’ll happen in my lifetime… We have too many people in power around the world for whom animal welfare and conservation is of little concern.
Zoos are sometimes seen as necessary but not poor alternatives to a natural environment. Zoo owners make little attempt at replicating native habitats, and instead provide the animal stagnant drinking water.
Both wild parks and zoos often severely restrict the animal’s natural behavior from exploring, digging, foraging, scavenging, climbing, hunting, running, swimming or flying. There are countless records of frustrated and depressed animals attempting to escape, often times ending in tragedy.
Animals attempting to regain their freedom are often punished with severe repercussions, relocation to a new facility, or death.