Zoos have been in existence long before coming of Christ where King Ashur-bel-Kala of the Middle Assyrian Empire set up botanical and zoological gardens at around eleventh century before coming of Christ. In his zoos, he kept hartebeest, hippos, elephants, and baboons. Similar other Kings of different empires followed his steps of rearing world animals mainly for recreation and symbolizing royal power. However, in the 20th century, the role of zoos changed mainly being meant for conservation and research services. However, with increased world population, the space left for world animals significantly declined in the 20th century leading to some governments opting to rear animals facing extinction. The increase in population also resulted in increased demand for recreational facilities. Consequently, most of the zoos have been opened to the public where members of the public. In some zoos, for instance, animals are confined in cages where their movements are quite restricted. Others confine world animals in parks guarded by fences. However, despite the positive motives, zoos have more numerous adverse effects on animals than positive results these confined environments have on wild animals. Zoos opponents’ points out that zoos result to the premature death of animals, interference with their behavior, and results in animal stress. However, proponents argue that zoos help to avoid extinction of rare species of animals and help the members of the public interact closely with animals that are dangerous in the wild.

Background Information

According to Peart, a zoo is a facility in where animals are confined for their rest part of life within the enclosure, displayed to the public, and may also be bred controllably. Establishment of zoos dates back to centuries before the birth of Jesus where kings reared wild animals as a show of might. However, in the 18th century, people got enlightened on the need for wild animals. As such, zoos geared towards science and research was established during this century. For instance, in 1975, animals from royal menagerie were confined in a zoo inside Jardin des Plantes in Paris France where the animals were primarily for research and education. However, with increased modernization, there arose a high demand for recreational services. Among the most demanded services were of the world animals. However, most of the countries like England that were experiencing rapid growth had very limited wildlife. As such, England and other countries like United States started putting up zoos where they reared animals like tiger and then displayed them to the public. However, in the 1970s, there was increased awareness on human encroachment into wildlife habitats leading to the almost extinction of certain animals like the white rhino, tigers in India, and Elephants in Africa. Accordingly most the zoos made conservation their central role.

Zoos are of different types. First, there are cages where small animals such as birds and kangaroos are kept in small rooms where they are fed and displayed to the public. Moreover, in individual zoos, large animals like lions and tigers can also be found in cages. Safari parks also form another form of a zoo where animals are confined in larger outdoor enclosure demarcated with moats and fences. Safari parks allow for wider movement of animals. The large size also allows people to drive inside the parks and closely interact with animals as well as feed them from their car windows. An example is a park in San Pasqual Valley near San Diego that sits on 1800 acre piece of land and run by Zoological Society of San Diego. Aquarius also form another type of zoo where aquatic animals such as dolphins, sharks, and whales are kept in large swimming pools. Other commercial zoos include roadside zoos prevalent in North America and animal theme parks whose main purpose is amusement and profit making. However, in the recent past, there has been numerous incidences of animal death due to human interference, poor sanitary conditions, and restricting environments that these imprisoned animals live. As such, animals should not be captivated in zoos due to the numerous hardships they undergo as it may end up making animals extinct rather converse to what proponents claim. Concerning zoos settings, animals are better off to be in the wild as their survival chances are higher than in cages. The paper argues that animals should not be captivated in zoos due to the hardships they face while being confined in their cages.

Supporting Ideas

Confining Animals Shortens their Life Expectancy

ccording to Brower, confining animals in zoos lead to short life expectancy. This is because animals confined in zoos have poor eating habits, as well as, inadequate exercise; animals in zoos develop lifestyle related problems leading to their premature growth. Moreover, human interference leads to increased mortality rates among infant lions and monkeys due to accidents. According to Jeanna, zoo elephants die young as compared to their wild counterparts. In a research by Mason on the health of 4500 Asian and African elephants living in 270 European zoos, elephants in the wild lived as twice longer as compared to those living in zoos. According to the research, zoo –born African elephants had a median age of 17 years while those living in Amboseli National Park in Kenya had a median age of 56 years. Similarly, Asian Elephants in zoos were dead at an age of 19 years compared to those in Asian wild that died at an age of 42 years. The research points out on zoo stress and obesity among zoo elephants as the major cause of their premature death. Linzey in her study found that dolphins died at an age of 10 years while in zoos while their counterparts lived for over thirty years with no predation. Conventionally, dolphins have complex lifestyles can swim between 40 and 100 miles a day while socializing, foraging for food, and playing. However, in zoos, they only have less than one percent of swimming area they enjoy in the world. Resultantly, most of them injure themselves and becomes stressed thereby dying at a young age. Similarly, Orcas in Zoos only live up to nine years as compared to their life expectancy of 30 to fifty years in the wild. In zoos, the conditions are unnatural to the resulting to their aggressiveness and dorsal fin collapse. Resultantly, most die young due to self-inflicted injuries and lifestyle complications such as poor exercise.

Zoos Negatively Alters Animals Behavior

Confining animals in zoos also alter their behavior resulting into some exhibiting aggressiveness not observable in their wild counterparts. Animals living in zoos live under complete control, and their habitats are entirely different to those of their counterparts in the wild. Consequently, these conditions surpass these animals’ instincts leading to permanent frustration as they animals have no freedom of choice. Resultantly, the animals are driven towards physical and behavioral degeneration. As such, the animals develop stereotypic behaviors that are not characteristic of their counterparts found in the wild. For instance, empirical research shows that orcas have attacked and killed at least three people in zoos while injuring scores of others. Surprisingly, no data could be found showing any attack on human beings by orcas found in the wild. Consequently, constraining animals in small spaces a fraction of what they would experience in the wild may affect their mental growth leading to abnormal behavior. Similarly, research out by Newton and Lucy in the year 2011, examined the behavior of 40 chimpanzees at six zoos in the US and the UK. The study indicated that all the chimps would poke several of their body parts, bang themselves against surfaces, and uproot their hair, drink urine, and pace around continuously.

Conversely, these abnormal behaviors were absent in chimpanzees thriving in the African wild. Moreover, cats in cages self-mutilate themselves by severely by biting their legs, tails as well as banging their heads. Most of the animals also exhibit eating disorders with some refusing to eat while other becomes obsessed with food. Also, Brower notes that other animals such as bears and parrot in US zoos exhibit excessive cleaning by pulling hairs or feathers leaving their skins with patches. However, a look into the wild shows their counterparts do not exhibit a similar behavior.

Zoos Subject Animals to Stress

Empirical research indicates that confining animals in zoos subjecting them to high levels of stress amounting to cruelty. Conventionally, confining animals in small spaces denies them the chance to socialize with others. As psychologists conclude, lone environments result in mental stress that may lead to depression because animals have their social life too. For instance, elephants live in families where they socialize and groom each other. The same pattern is observed in lions and most of the primates. As such, by confining them in small spaces the animals live a very boring life leading to great deal of stress. Brower notes that elephants in zoos show signs of depression by swaying from side to side.

Most onlookers perceive the behavior to be normal. However, according to him, the elephants are exhibiting signs of stress due to lack of privacy, low mental simulation and poor or lack of exercises. For instance, in a report commissioned by Department of Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs in England, elephants in 13 UK zoos spent 83 percent of their time indoors and over ninety percent of them were overweight. Resultantly, the animals were under high levels of stress, and only ten percent of them could walk properly. On the contrary, elephants living in Tsavo National Park in Kenya spent all of their time outdoors and could walk as far as 200 miles a day thereby giving them enough exercise. Resultantly, the elephants had no stress problems. As suggested by Kawata, primates tended to express stress by failing to take adequate care of the young ones. In his study, Collin found out that a chimpanzee cuddled her young one tightly while there were many onlookers and did not spend much time breastfeeding her. Consequently, the young chimpanzee died a month later. The outcomes clearly show that animals got stressed when given much attention leading to alteration of their normal behavior.


Opposing Views

Zoos help prevent extinction of endangered Species

Proponents argue that zoos help conserve animals facing extinction. Various animals such as white rhino and echo parakeet face the greatest danger of extinction. While confined in zoos, these animals undergo conservative breeding meant to augment the endangered species populations. As such, despite genetic variation problems, conservative breeding has helped thwart extinction of numerous world’s rare species. Moreover, reintroduction programs envisioned in zoos has enabled return the population of certain species to feasible levels. In the reintroduction program, animals reared in zoos are rehabilitated back to their natural environments thereby increasing the endangered species in the animal populations. Furthermore, zoos have helped avoid extinction by promoting public education about endangered animals and related conservation issues. Over the past few decades, zoos have served to educate millions of visitors on various practices leading to endangering to certain species and how each could help prevent the extinction of the affected animals. The civic education has seen various non-governmental organizations geared towards the protection of endangered species, especially in Africa. However, captivity is not the solution to the danger that endangered species face. The main cause of animal extinction is human interference in the animal’s life through agricultural and environmental pollution. Moreover, utilization of these animals for marketing and hunting are also major causes of endangering of these species. As such, putting an end to these activities would prove the best solution but a painful path most countries wish not to adopt. Thus, it would be a fallacy to argue that holding animals in captivity is the main goal of retaining zoos. Data from empirical research shows that of over 7000 animals in captivity, only ten percent of them are endangered species. Consequently, it can be seen that keeping animals in captivity does not envision conservation as its primary agenda but recreation and resulting profit seems the greatest drivers of the practice. Furthermore, keeping animals in cages and other environments may subject them to lifestyle diseases, prompt them to escape, and change their behavior leading to their premature death as opposed to if they were in the wild.

Zoos help keep away from people Dangerous Animals

Proponents of the idea argue that some animals are dangerous while on the wild making them difficult to view. As such, by confining them in zoos, people can closely see and interact with them. For instance, African lions have been on record for eating scores of people. According to Morgan, a lion in Tanga Tanzania went wild and started way-laying villagers at night. As game rangers would later come to discover, the lion had injured its teeth during hunting making human beings the soft target. Consequently, the lion shrewdness in evading capture resulted into the beast devouring forty-nine people in two months before being scorned and killed. As such, given such kind of happenings, some people will argue that keeping in captivity such kind of animals will help protect the general population from danger. Similarly, elephants have been one of the leading causes of deaths in villages surrounding various national parks in East African countries. In most cases, the animals have invaded the poor farmers’ lands and killing scores of those caught by surprise. As such, some will argue that by confining these animals, the levels of human and wildlife conflict in these countries will decline. However, such logic is fallacious given people the ones who invade the animal’s habitats. Therefore, if people were to learn how not to interfere with these animals habitats’ animals would never be a concern for human safety. Moreover, while taking animals in zoos, numerous unexpected things occur. In some cases, caretakers have had significant cuts devour them while others have had their limbs mutilated. As such, avoiding interfering with wildlife will be the only way to avoid human and animal conflicts.


In the dawn of some animals facing extinction, various governments have set up zoos in a bid to protect them. However, with increased demand for recreation services, most of these zoos have turned into commercial tourist sites. Resultantly, the number of species in these zoos has increased leading to reduced space. Moreover, numerous zoos geared towards detriment and profit making have erupted leading to the question on the effects the practice has on animals. Most animals in this captive environment exhibit a great deal of stress, abnormal behavior, and shortening of their life expectancy. However, proponents argue that zoos help prevent extinction of certain species while taking away from people some animals in the wild. However, in the view of misery encounter by these animals in zoos, they are better off protected in the wild as it would increase their chance of survival.


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