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Should Animals Be Kept in Zoos?

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Kittens Guide

The zoo was always an exciting field trip for me as a kid. I loved looking at all of the exotic animals that came from lands so far away that they almost didn’t seem real. As I’ve grown and taken more interest in sustainability and conservation, it is hard for me to look at zoos in the same way that I did as a child.

It is one thing to read about animals and another completely different experience to actually see exotic animals in person. You cannot really appreciate the size of elephants or giraffes until you are standing there, throwing your neck all the way back to look at the animal. Zoos often have plaques placed by an exhibit explaining the zoo’s contribution to conservation efforts. They might even have a small, clear donation box with a few dollar bills in it just to show you how many people actually donate to conservation efforts. Informative programs put on by zookeepers also help educate visitors about the current state of its species and why protecting the animals is so important. I know that I have always felt inspired and giddy after leaving the aquarium or zoo; I just love having the animals within my arm’s reach.

On the other hand, zoos can be viewed as conservationists’ and animal activists’ worst nightmare. Animals kept in cages just is against its nature. Some zoos do not have enough stimulation for the animals that are stuck there and can develop stereotypical behavior otherwise known as zoochosis. These behaviors are not normally seen in nature and serve no apparent purpose; some common behaviors include pacing, self mutilation, or swaying back and forth. Locking animals behind bars could be considered a crime against nature. Taking animals from the wild and placing them in zoos restricts their ability to roam from place to place, decreasing the number of possible mating pairs. Inbreeding can be a potentially huge problem for zoos around the globe as well. These small, scattered populations usually are related to one another and cannot breed without producing non-viable offspring. And you cannot just release a zoo animal into the wild to breed and then bring it home, it would not know how to survive in the real world.

I am so torn on this topic! There are arguments that if the amount of money that is spent creating and maintaining zoo exhibits was spent on conservation, preservation, protection and restoration efforts, more animals would be off the endangered species list. I definitely think that more people need to show their support for the animals by donating to conservationist groups, but zoos do play an integral role in recruiting that support. You cannot help but to fall in love with at least one animal at the zoo! Seeing the animals up close and personal makes such a strong impact and can make you more likely donate to causes that are protecting that animal and its habitat. In an ideal world, zoos would be huge and have no distinct cages that confine the animals to one location. These zoos would truly provide a one-of-a-kind experience that would encourage people care more about the animals that are hurt by our destructive tendencies.

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Should Animals Be Kept in Zoos?