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Are Zoos Good Or Bad For Animals?

1509 words - 6 pages

Starting thousands of years ago, zoos attracted large crowds around the world (Fravel). Because of that, everyone today has seen, been to, or heard of a zoo at least once in their lifetime. However, people are missing valuable information that they need to know about zoos today. Do the zoos really do what most people think?
There are 2,400 animal enclosures licensed by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, however only 212 are under strict requirements from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA); keep in mind that those numbers only involve the zoos in the United States (Fravel). Zoos should be banned around the world because they do not do what they promise when it comes to conserving the animals, they cause the animals to develop psychological disorders, and they do not have the means and resources to properly care for the animals.
Zoos today say that one of their main goals is to conserve endangered species and eventually reintroduce them back into the wild. However, Benjamin Beck, former associate director of biological programs at the National Zoo in Washington, found that over the past century only 16 of 145 reintroduction programs worldwide ever actually restored any of the animals back to the wild (qtd. in Fravel). He also found that a majority was carried out by the government and not the actual programs themselves. Beck noted that the billions of dollars the zoos were receiving were going towards hi-tech exhibits and marketing strategies to get people to go to the zoos. So which zoos are actually attempting to save the lives they claim to be? According to David Hancocks, a former zoo director with 30 years’ experience, many zoos that are not affiliated with the AZA do not spend hardly any of their funds on conservation. Therefore, people are most likely visiting zoos that do not have any anticipation of actually helping the animals and putting them back into the wild where they belong.
The animals kept in the programs are said to be used to recreate the population of that species. However, sometimes the program has a surplus of animals that they have to tend to. If there is a surplus, they will usually sell or trade the extra animals to others zoos, sanctuaries, circuses, and even slaughterhouses. According to a New York Times article, if the zoo is trying to prevent the animals from reproducing they will give the animals contraceptives; in other countries though, they will even euthanize the animals after they are born. The zoos cannot have a successful conservation program if they are also killing and preventing the animals from reproducing.
Many of the wild animals that are kept in zoos acquire various psychological disorders. People go to zoos and see elephants bobbing their heads, big cats compulsively grooming themselves, and bears wandering around their exhibits; but the people think nothing of the behaviors their witnessing (Horton). According to Jennifer Horton, a writer for Animal Planet, wild...

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