Zoos are a great family day out and a tradition which dates back many years. Many people love to visit a zoo and see all the animals, but yet some people would rather seem them all closed. Why?


Arguments for zoos

The main argument for having zoos is the welfare of the animals. While the initial zoo animals were often captured and forced into captivity, their offspring wasn’t. Animals born in captivity would more likely than not not survive if they were released back into the wild, even though they would possess the normal instincts of survival and they can live in the comfort of being neither the hunter nor the huntee. In fact they are well catered for both with food and medical attention when needed and can live long and peaceful lives.

Most zoos have an excellent breeding programme and ensure that there will always be animals to look at. If they have too many of one kind of animal they can sell them to another reputable zoo where the animals will continue to be safe.

Zoos are also a great educational tool and have inspired many children to become vets or work in an animal based field. In fact being in the close proximity of animals has been proven to make people happier and can even be used in therapy for people with certain illnesses.

The actions of many zoos have helped the continuation of a number of endangered species which might otherwise have been wiped out.

Most countries in the developed world have strict laws with very high standards for the welfare of animals. This has led to fewer animals being mistreated in captivity either in substandard zoos or travelling circuses.


Arguments against zoos

The main argument on this side is that it’s unnatural and the animals are effectively imprisoned. While they live longer lives they are held against their will and a lot of the natural urges they would have in the wild are suppressed. No enclosure is as big as the Savannah and while they can exercise it’s not enough for many species. Having food given to them is an example of this. In the wild they would need to fend for themselves and removing this need can be said to impede the mental abilities of the animals. Confined animals often suffer from boredom and stress, so their lives aren’t as happy as many people might believe.

Buying or selling animals from or to other zoos, however reputable, means a long journey. After al there aren’t zoos in every town. Long journeys in an extremely confined space are very stressful for animals as they don’t understand what’s happening. It isn’t unusual for an animal to die in transit between zoos.

Not all zoos are as good as others. A lot of zoos will have animals which are well nourished and healthy, but some have smaller enclosures and poorer animal care and the animals are not in good shape at all.

Most popular zoo animals such as lions, tigers or elephants are from much warmer climates. There’s a good reason why they generally aren’t found in northern Europe – it’s too cold for them. Conversely it’s too warm for penguins and polar bears who come from Arctic or Antarctic conditions.

Stopping the eradication of endangered species might seem like a good thing, but it’s meddling in nature. If animals die out there is often a reason and it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with human intervention. Saving some species might be seen to be “making up” for ones that humans have hunted to extinction, but many believe it’s wrong to play God either way.


Whether you like them or not zoos are here to stay, at least in the foreseeable future. There are very convincing arguments both for and against zoos and it is a subject which really divides people’s opinions. It’s one of those situations where you need to decide for yourself what you think is right.

Most of the money zoos make goes towards the upkeep of the animals, but if you’re against zoos you can always support an animal charity. Either way some animals somewhere are being cared for.