Zoos: A Haven, or a Prison?

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Safa Touri
January 18th 2021

Should zoos exist? This has been a common question that has lingered in many curious minds, receiving widespread controversy among Glasgow students: Some argue zoos are an absolute must within our changing world, while others fire back that zoos put lasting negative effects on their animals. Here are their opinions and perspectives on a place that dates back as far as 3500 BC: Zoos.

 

Pro: Zoos Are a Relief for Animals and Humans Alike

“People won’t protect what they don’t love, and they can’t love what they don’t know.” – Robin Ganzert, the president and CEO of American Humane

 

Building Relationships and Educating

Zoo’s main goal is to educate the public about wildlife and what we can do to protect them. They are some of the biggest attractions, generating over 180 million people – along with aquariums – in the US. However, attracting people is not the only thing that zoos do. Some students argued that zoos should be kept because they, “…are a place [where] humans and animals can connect…”, helping to rebuild a relationship that has been hindered by our rapidly growing society. They also stated that zoos also provide hands-on experience, educating kids around the globe and connecting them with not only the animals but also their loved ones.

 

Saving Species

One Glasgow student talked about the importance of zoos, stating that, “[zoos] protect and maintain endangered species by having them breed in the zoos so the species doesn’t go extinct.”

 

With this in mind, zoos have saved countless with their tireless efforts, bringing species such as the Bongo and Amur Leopard from the brink of extinction. Luckily, both are seeing a gradual increase in numbers.

Bongo                                                              Picture credit: awf.org

 

Con: zoos damage the animals in their captivity

“If you really care about animals, then stop trying to figure out how to exploit them ‘compassionately’. Just stop exploiting them.” – Gary Francione

 

Limited Space

Not all zoos are equipped with the proper resources to provide for the animals in their care. In fact, one of the biggest factors that all zoos are missing is the amount of space needed for an animal’s welfare. It is drastically limited, proving to have a powerful negative impact on animals. Many students also noticed the animals’ enclosures, one arguing that although they “love spending time with animals, they shouldn’t be kept in cages or enclosures to be goggled at and mistreated.”

 

Entertainment

There is no doubt that an undeniable excitement comes with animals performing, yet, not everything seen is the whole picture: Animals that have been performing have been forced to. One of our students had a very strong opinion about this form of captivity, claiming that, “It’s not fair that we are using LIVING animals (just like us) for our entertainment. How would you feel if other animals took us in cages and we were just for show? It wouldn’t be nice… so why are we doing it?”


Orcas Performing                               Picture Credit: CNN.com

 

You Can Help

Whether or not you are in favor of zoos, remember that there are always numerous ways to aid all animals. Visiting a sanctuary, which only holds animals who can no longer live in the wild due to human exploitation or injury; adopting a pet from the shelter; donating to charities; or even participating in Meatless Mondays could change the lives of the animals we all adore.