Why Do We Still Need Zoos?

Importance of zoo

Zoos are a controversial topic for a lot of people. Those who are against the existence of zoos feel that they are harmful to animals – that animals do not have the quality of life that they should have when they are kept in captivity and paraded in front of the general public like a spectacle. Zoo detractors worry that animals are caught in the wild and brought to captivity, instead of being left in their natural environment. In the days before video existed, the only opportunity for people to see animals was in zoos – but those days are long gone, and there are now better ways of educating people.


While that makes sense, to an extent, zoos do make a significant contribution to animal welfare. Some endangered species are being bred in captivity, and the offspring are being released into the wild. The breeding pairs that are being kept in zoos are the only animals that are entirely safe from illegal hunting, and without those zoos, the animals could well be extinct. Yes, in an ideal world there would be no hunters – and no zoos – but we cannot individually police every single person, and keep every wild animal safe. As long as hunters exist, we need a way to protect endangered species.


Another issue is that of deforestation, forest fires, and other issues that are affecting animals – and even plants. The environment is changing. Some of those changes are human-made, some are not. Some are hotly debated by politicians, although scientists have explicit beliefs based on current evidence about how much influence mankind is having on the environment. Zoos offer a chance to preserve parts of the environment, with climate controlled, safe spaces for animals that are finding their natural habitats under threat.


There is a lot to be said for giving people the chance to see animals in the flesh too. While some feel that keeping animals in captivity is barbaric, too many young children, seeing those animals is awe-inspiring, and they become more concerned about the environment and care more about animals – endangered or otherwise. For animals that have been in captivity for many years, and those born in captivity, zoos are a comfortable place, and they can do an excellent service there.


Perhaps, for now, keeping zoos is a good idea. If the zookeepers are trained to be humane, the food is appropriate for the animal, and the animal gets sufficient space to exercise, and adequate socialization with other animals, then their life will be good. Perhaps not ideal, but as good as we can make it for animals that might otherwise have no life at all. That’s the question that we are facing right now after decades of damage to the earth, and given that question, we need to take small steps forward and practically fix the problem. Maybe our grandchildren will be in a better position to ask the question again.


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