Are Zoo Unethical

Paul Gonzalez
• Sunday, 01 November, 2020
• 8 min read

Such ancient collections were not held for exhibition in public parks or maintained for purposes of education and recreation. After the conquest of Dacia, Emperor Trajan held 123 days of games in celebration, during which thousands of animals were slaughtered, including elephants, lions, rhinoceroses, tigers, giraffes, crocodiles, bulls, hippopotamus and stags.

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In 1898, the reason was cited by the New York Zoological Society when it resolved to inform the public of the continued decline in animal populations, to stimulate sentiment in favor of animal protection, and to cooperate with scientific organizations to ensure the preservation of species. Modern zoos play a critical role in the education of children and families about the various animals found on our planet.

Zoos also partner with local communities to extend the knowledge of animals and conservation to a wider audience. Placing such animals in zoos, especially those hunted and poached, provides them with a safe environment where the species can thrive.

With the dangers of climate change fast approaching, such measures are proving extremely important for the conservation of species. Recently Australia has had to face an unprecedented wave of bush fires that have been blamed on climate change.

The fires have destroyed vast areas of habitat and killed millions of animals, including Kangaroos, koalas, and other species unique to the continent. It is, therefore, essential to have animals in zoos and other areas where they can be accorded extra protection from such unpredictable events.

Extensive breeding programs at the zoo and reintroduction into wild habitats helped in saving the species from extinction. Other animals that have been preserved in protected areas such as zoos include the Golden Lion Tamarin, Arabian Onyx, Freshwater mussels, and the Puerto Rican Parrot.

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In addition to providing residence to animals, zoos create jobs and tourism opportunities that generate revenue for the local community. Today zoos are staffed with highly trained personnel having specialized knowledge on the animals they are tasked to care for.

Many zoos also have veterinarians, pathologists, and technicians who can provide specialized care to animals, including parasite removal and other forms of treatment. Zoo personnel are also aware of the physical and dietary requirements that each species needs to maintain them in a healthy state.

Activities do not adequately replace migration and hunting requirements for animals, but they do eliminate deterioration and boredom at the zoo. Zoos support scientific research by allowing scientists easy access to specimens or species under study.

Such studies create models that help improve zoo conditions so that animals can live longer, breed more successfully, and be happier. Many zoos currently work in collaboration with universities that research the facilities and train professionals such as veterinarians who can then help care for animals.

Taking an animal from its natural habitat for the sole reason of human entertainment raises several moral and ethical issues. Once they were rescued, they were found to be suffering from malnutrition, kidney, and cardiac problems, as well as trauma from living in a war zone.

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Due to a lack of activity, the elephant's feet began to deteriorate to a point where it became difficult for her to walk. Zoos that practice breeding programs face challenges when reintroducing animals back into the wild.

Restriction of some animals such as elephants adversely affects their migratory instincts leading to aggressive behavior. Some zoos continuously breed animals to get newborns to keep visitors coming and revenue streams flowing.

In addition to raising ethical and moral questions on such breeding, frequent births lead to overpopulation in a zoo with limited space. We've all been captivated by the lions and the Tigers wanted to feed the giraffes or swim with the sharks in the aquarium.

You either got to go on a school field trip or if you were really lucky, your parents took you while you were on summer vacation and even bought you a cool new stuffed animal from the gift shop when the day was done. There was no way that a rhinoceros that weighs several tons could be happy in an enclosure where it could do little more than pace or lie down.

But more than my frustration about the big cats and the fish, I had a problem with the idea of caging monkeys and whales. Humans always talk about how wild it is that monkeys and people are so similar but often don't have an issue with putting them in cages.

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Monkeys have families just like people, they feel the same emotions as us, happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, love and grief and the same can be said about whales. Zoo animals aren't provided with space they need to roam and exercise and lead healthy lives.

While this is true, there are better and often times more ethical alternatives to zoos where those injured and under prepared animals can stay safe and be better off. This ability to have more space to roam and explore has positive effects on animals mental, physical and emotional health.

Animal welfare–minded people understand that the purpose of zoos as entertainment is a thing of the past. Most first-class zoos have evolved from virtual circuses into institutions fostering education and conservation programs.

“The primary benefits zoos provide to society are education and conservation of species and habitats.… conservation alone is not enough to justify the existence of zoos.… A strong commitment to individual animal welfare is equally important.” My first trip to the Bronx Zoo was memorialized on a bit of 1950s home movie footage.

His act of defiance told me exactly how this animal felt to be locked up in that cage. Living an inner-city life once again with 2 little boys, I began to visit the Philadelphia Zoo often.

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As a veterinary student who was engaged in animal welfare issues, I found the zoo visits with my children both enthralling and enraging. I saw the big cats pacing and circling the perimeter of their cement cages smaller than my living room I gazed at giraffes munching on vegetation while in earshot of city traffic.

My preceptor ship there gave me a coveted behind-the-scenes glimpse of life inside one of the most famous zoos in America. It also gave me basic training and a desire to treat birds, reptiles and little mammals.

But experiencing these animals in captivity made me realize where I stood on the zoo controversy. Philadelphia’s Zoo360 is designed to better suit the animals yet thrill the human participants.

Gorillas, big cats, gibbons, markets and monkeys cavort on freeways and suspended trails. The zoo says it is committed to excellence in animal care and to inspiring guests to conservative action.

Zoo360 and other innovative exhibits are trying to enhance the human–animal experience by improving the point of view on both sides: In general, zoos are downsizing in the variety of animals (the Noah’s Ark model) and giving attention and space to fewer, more specialized exhibits.

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Zoos are turning into pleasure yachts for only a few of the grand creatures of the world. Zoos will always be a controversial topic, even if they include compassionate conservation in their programs.

Zoos may remain controversial, but the ethical caring and instinctual knowledge of the zookeepers and veterinarians was never in question. Be as minimally invasive as possible, trust the zookeepers’ observations of the animals they know so well and follow your own instincts.

This animal welfare content was written by a veterinarian, Dr. Debora Schoenberg, VM. In the 19th century, however, public zoos emerged as great democratizing institutions, giving ordinary Europeans the chance to see these animals up close.

Today, however, technology has made it possible for ordinary people to observe animals in their natural environment. Wildlife documentaries shot in ultra-high definition with innovations such as underwater cameras, drones, and night-vision offer a view of animals that zoos might struggle to match.

In defense of zoos, seeing wildlife up-close and in-person can have a huge impact on young people and children, potentially fostering a life-long love of animals and the environment. In addition, zoos across the world are keeping many endangered animal species safe from extinction, and they can collaborate with research institutions in the name of science and understanding.

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We had a comment from António suggesting that visiting animals in a zoo can encourage a love of the environment and a desire to protect it. To get a reaction, we spoke to Doug Cress, Chief Executive Officer at the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (GAZA).

They weren’t able to put anybody forward for interview in time for publication, but did release the following statement setting out their position on the future of zoos: The Party for the Animals believes that zoos in their current form are no longer necessary in this day and age.

We want to convert them into temporary shelter for animals who cannot live in their original habitat or cannot be put back into the wild. In addition, we are in flavor of introducing children from an early age to the beauty and value of nature and the animals that live there.

At all times, tighter housing requirements must apply that approach the natural living conditions as much as possible. These changes do not necessarily mean that visitors are no longer welcome, but that the function of the zoo changes as far as we are concerned and that the interests of the animals are paramount.

Again, zoos and aquariums need to take responsibility for telling these stories properly to the public, but the alternative is not as simple as turning formerly captive animals loose into the wild, where they could encounter hunters, a lack of food, diseases, and a host of other deadly threats. Unfortunately, this goes with a financial cost as improving living conditions can mean lower density, maybe fewer animals of fewer species if the zoo cannot expand geographically and can also involve investments in new building.

Rapid advances in technology such as drones are powerful conservation tools, allowing us to count orangutans in high nests in the forest canopy, identify illegal logging, or record whales and dolphins at play in the sea. Taken together, these resources form a collective experience that can inspire humans to dedicate their lives to the study or protection of wildlife.

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