Every few months we see pictures or videos of some animals in zoos which are clearly in distress. It makes us really sad and angry and we run social media campaigns to free those animals or close those zoos. There is no denying the fact that a badly managed zoo is the worst sort of place imaginable, but even a nicely managed zoos still has cages and any person with a heart believes that animals shouldn’t be kept in cages but believe it or not zoos do have many benefits for the environment. Zoos are a necessity in some cases so are they the lesser evils of the world of environmental management? The debate about zoos being evil or a necessity has been going on for decades now, which is why we will take a look at both the negative and positive aspects of zoos.
Also check out: 10 Critically Endangered Animals That Can Go Extinct By 2050
BENEFITS OR USES OF ZOOS
Some of the benefits of zoos which cannot be neglected are given below:
Zoos play a huge research when it comes to research on animals species. Not every researcher has accessibility to certain species in the wild, so their best bet is the animals kept in zoos. Don’t worry, the research is humane and usually involves studying the behaviour and lifestyle of animals. This type of research is very valuable when it comes to designing conservation projects.
PRESERVATION OF BIODIVERSITY
Zoos also help in preserving biodiversity. Many animals species are endangered or critically endangered and their numbers are dwindling in their natural habitats due to uncontrolled hunting or poaching, so animals are provided a safe home in zoos where they are safe from hunters and poacher. This helps in preserving animals species.
FUNDING FOR RESEARCH
People, especially kids love visiting zoos and seeing a large number of different animal species under a single roof. As we all well know zoos have an entrance ticket which earns a lot of money for these zoos but this money is actually put to good use: keeping animals comfortable and for funding research, which helps in conservation of these species.
EXPOSURE OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC, INCLUDING KIDS, TO DIFFERENT ANIMALS
Kids learn by experiencing and kids can better learn to appreciate the biodiversity when they are exposed to it. This can be very difficult for kids living in metropolitan cities, which is why zoos are important. Kids will most probably be more concerned about animals they have seen and liked.
Many zoos have conservation projects which are either undertaken by the zoo themselves or in collaboration with some conservation organisation. Win this way they help conserve biodiversity on either a genetic or species level.
Captive breeding is sometimes a necessity, especially when a species is endangered or critically endangered. Animals are bred in captivity and then released into their natural habitat. It ensures that the young ones are taken better care of and have a better chance of survival compared to the wild where there are many predators and other environmental factors which can be dangerous for the young ones. Captive breeding was one of the methods used by China to successfully maintain a healthy population of pandas which are thankfully no longer an endangered species!
NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF ZOOS
Some negative aspects of zoos that cannot be and should not be neglected are given below:
DISTRESSED AND LONELY ANIMALS
One of the main concerns of keeping animals in zoos is that animals are usually seen to be in distress when they are kept in cramped cages or when their numbers are little – in many cases when they are all alone and are solitary inhabitants of their cages. This thing not only breaks one’s heart but is also for terrible for the animals.
LACK OF APPROPRIATE SPACE FOR ANIMALS AND CRAMPED CAGES
In many zoos around the world the cages are not big enough or of appropriate sizes for the specific animal species, thus leading to animals suffering from distress. The size of the cages should be big enough to be comfortable for the animal.
PRESENCE OF VISITORS
Zoos are for humans, but animals that are kept in zoos aren’t used to being around humans unless these animals were born in a zoo, then they adapt better around human presence. Apart from this, in many zoos around the world, the visitors sometimes intentionally annoy and tease animals or feed them things that can make the animals sick! This is definitely a huge concern and zoos should have proper management and rules enforced to keep the animals safe from humans!
DISEASES AND LACK OF PROPER MEDICAL PROCEDURES
Diseases spread more rapidly in zoos because of close contact of animals as compared to in nature, thus a disease can result in wiping out of the whole species from a specific zoo. Another issue is that many zoos do not have proper medical staff and procedures in place for animals, in case they get sick.
BAD, INAPPROPRIATE OR IRREGULAR FEED
Proper food is extremely important for any living thing for survival, the same is obviously true for animals that are kept in zoos. Thus it is crucial that animals are given feed which is suitable for them and also according to their feeding habits and routine. Animals should also be fed as many times as they usually eat in their natural habitat. Overall, their feed should closely match what they usually eat in their natural habitat so they get all the nutrients their bodies need for a healthy life.
This article in no way condones badly managed zoos and we firmly believe that such zoos where animals are in distress or mistreated should be close down immediately, but not all zoos should be closed down as zoos that are properly managed do have some benefits and uses as mentioned in the article above. So zoos should be managed properly and made as comfortable as possible for animals that are kept there. The cages should be of the appropriate size, so should be the number of animals of a single species kept so that these animals don’t feel lonely. They should also be fed proper and natural feed. And any animal that is seen to be in distress should be move to their natural environment. All in all, they should be provided an environment closest to their natural habitat so that we all can reap the benefits of zoos but in a humane and animals friendly way.
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Founder of Envpk.com. A passionate environmentalist and researcher by education and at heart. A proud tree-hugger.