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Zoos: The Pros and Cons

posted Apr 23, 2015, 10:37 AM by Unknown user

KiaLynne Bland

    Last Friday, Biology I and F.F.A. students took a trip to the Toledo Zoo to walk around freely and view animals. There were, as always, several different animals to gawk at and enjoy, but if you looked closely, you’d notice many of them laying lifeless in their cages, or pacing back and forth in their “environment”. This is mostly a result of distress from the animals, as they feel anxious and uneasy residing in a small cage with hundreds of people around them everyday.

At the end of the trip, Biology I students were to answer a number of questions regarding to zoos and how they treat their animals. This brought up a discussion in my class period on whether zoos are more harmful and hurtful than helpful and entertaining. Many were indifferent or torn between the two options, as it is very easy to view both sides of the controversial topic.

I decided to look into the pros and cons of zoos with myself being wishy-washy on the issue. Here is a list of all the possible pros and cons of zoos that I could think of/find.

  • Endangered species

Pros: Many of the animals held in zoos are endangered, and keeping their species in zoos could potentially prevent the species from dying off faster if it were to be living in its natural habitat. Zoos could offer protection from its predators such as other animals and humans.

Cons: While it may seem that this could help the endangered species grow, it might not. With many of the endangered species being held in zoos, the animals of the same species who are not residing with them in the zoo could die off quickly, as there are less and less of their own species living with them. It could make it harder to reproduce in its original environment, which could result in the population of the species to drop.

  • Educational/research purposes

Pros: The main purpose for my field trip to the zoo was to inform us about the type of organisms and species that roam around on our planet. Zoos are a great way to get an upclose look at the animals that we don’t see in our backyards, concluding in getting a better understanding of how their habitat is suppose to be, what they eat, and how they react with one another. They could possibly interest someone in animals, which could spread awareness for the species. And for those who are trying to research the species, it is easier to do so in a zoo, as zoos provide a limited amounted space for the animal, making it easier to view and study the animal with getting a closer look to it.

Cons: As horrible as it sounds, many people don’t think about how the animal is doing in captivity as they are viewing it. Most people don’t go to the zoo for educational purposes, even if the reason why they are there is to learn about animals. They go for entertainment, and it’s hard to care about the animal’s well-being if you are seeking for entertainment from it. The animal is often provoked by teasing from its viewers, which could cause some psychological damage to it. Researchers also don’t get accurate results or information while studying in the zoo. Zoos don’t provide 100 percent of the animal’s natural environment, and because of that, researchers don’t truly get to see how the animal reacts within its habitat or with its species.

  • Environment

Pros: A species’ natural environment may not be the safest place for it to live in; there are several dangerous things among their habitat that could cause a threat to it and its species. With that being said, zoos protect its animals from living in deadly environments, which ties in with the protection of endangered species.

Cons: Zoo animals are kept within a cage or fenced in area. Their space and freedom is limited, and the environment in which it is living in is truly not its environment. Zoo animals are put under stress with not being able to run around like it normally would, and with several people being around it daily. Animals being captured from its original environment and taken to an “off-version” of it is cruel, and those being born into a zoo will never get a real taste of what it could be living in; if they were to be set free for some reason, it would struggle immensely.

With many sides and debates being brought up of zoos, it is hard to pick a solid side, which is why I, along with many others, may never have a clear opinion on zoos and their purpose.