Zoos are created to keep animals for study purposes and to protect endangered species. However, it is observed that earning money has become sole purpose of zoo owners. Zoos take all steps to attract public and to increase their revenues without considering safety, comfort and physical and mental health of animals. Advocates of zoos claim that zoos should not be removed because it allows people to understand and study animals. Opponents of zoos claim that zoos should be banned because zoos are not animals’ natural homes and captivity upsets animals physically as well as mentally. This paper discusses that zoos are internment camps for animals and should be shut down.
Animals do not belong to zoos and keeping them in zoos is like taking their freedom away. Keeping animals forcefully in zoos is violation of animals’ natural rights. In zoos, animals are prohibited from gathering their food, socialising, and behaving naturally. Does not matter how hard zoos are trying to replicate natural surroundings, zoos cannot become forest. Taming and caging of animals is cruel as it impacts their health and lifespan. Zoos also get involved into practices that are unethical and illegal in order to achieve profit. For example zoos are involved in trade of animals and treating animals as commodities. The primary purpose of zoos has shifted from education and protection of rare species to entertainment and money making. Various disadvantages associated with zoos generate a need of shut down of all zoos.
Claim 1: Zoos should be banned because keeping animals in prisons increase their exposure towards various physical and mental illnesses, and also decreases their life spam.
Evidence: Clubb et al. (2008) in their research study conducted on 4500 elephants found that imprisonment of animals causes different deceases in animals and reduces their life. The authors analyzed that elephants located in European zoos have lifespan of around 19 years, which is even less than half of average lifespan of animal i.e. 42 years who live in natural habitat. Transportation of animals between different zoos and removal of young animals from their mother at early age also causes various development problems, which makes survival of young animal difficult. In Zoos, animals suffer from obesity, stress, mood and health disorders, which sometimes make animals wild (Clubb, Ros, et al). PETA also claims that restricting animals from natural behaviour such as digging, climbing, hunting, swimming and choosing a partner, develop abnormal and sometimes self-destructive behaviour (PETA).
Claim 2: Zoos do not regard animals as living creatures and treat them as commodities.
Evidence: Zoos regularly purchase, sell and borrow animals without considering relationships they established with local animals and zoo staff. Zoos encourage breeding of animals because baby animals are more capable to draw visitors. Zoos do not treat old animals properly and also import animals from forest and wild. According to PETA, San Diego & Tampa’s Lowry zoos imported around 11 elephants. Some zoos located in Denver imported 33 monkeys who were illegally trafficked in Africa (PETA).
Claim 3: Warehousing innocent animals is not a way to protect them from extermination.
Evidence: Currently more than 7000 species are on the verge of extinction and zoos are not doing anything to save those species. Entertainment and money has become the sole purpose of zoos. According a research conducted by Marcelini, a visitor spends around 8 seconds to watch a snake, and 1 minute to lion. Exhibits are used liked wallpapers. People spend majority of their time in eating, shopping and enjoying; no one bothers about education or animal behaviour. People use zoos as place for entertainment and enjoyment that generates by watching poor animals. Therefore, use of zoos for educational purposes is falls. Watching animals in natural circumstances can be more informative than watching them in unnatural and isolated environment (McCollum).
Opposing Views: Advocates of zoos claim that zoos should not be banned because: zoos are important medium of animal education for several children and people; and zoos provide protective environment to animals where animals can live without fear to get killed by other animals and struggle for survival. Zoos are rich source of information where people can learn behaviour of animals, which is difficult otherwise. In year 2001, around 960,000 visitors visited Dublin zoo. Out of those visitors, around 50,000 were children who visited zoo because it was part of formal education. Contemporary zoos hire well educated and experienced professionals to take care of animals. Caring professionals understand and fulfil variety of needs of animals (Scoil Mhuire English).
Analysis of advocates and opponents of zoos reveals that the primary purpose of zoos has changed over a period of time. The objective of modern zoos is to entertain people and earn money. Zoos not only violate law of nature by taking away freedom of animals, but also get involved in various unethical and illegal activities. Imprisonment of animals causes several health problems in animals, which resulted in reducing lifespan of animals. Overall zoos do not solve the purposes for which they were created, hence zoos should be banned.
"Animal Rights Uncompromised: Zoos." Peta . 18 April 2015 <http://www.peta.org/about-peta/why-peta/zoos/>.
Clubb, Ros, et al. "Compromised survivorship in zoo elephants." Science 322.5908 (2008): 1649-1649.
McCollum, Symone. "Zoos should be banned." 3 January 2014. The 2Ferquarterly . 18 April 2015 <http://2ferquarterly.org/2014/01/03/zoos-should-be-banned/>.
"Zoos are internment camps for animals and should be shut down - Against." 13 April 2013. Scoil Mhuire English. 18 April 2015 <http://scoilmhuireenglish.weebly.com/blog/23-zoos-are-internment-camps-for-animals-and-should-be-shut-down-against>.