From viewing lions to giraffes, we've all experienced "the perfect day at the zoo." Now however, the ethics around our beloved memories are being put into question.
by Avani Pammidimukkala
There have been debates over the recent decade regarding the ethics surrounding public zoos. Environmentalists and online activists call for the abolishment of all zoos and advocate for all captured or endangered animals to be placed into wildlife sanctuaries. Although in this Trilemma opinion article, we write mainly from the environmentalist perspective, it is important to address that there are numerous views to this debate. One of them being: wildlife sanctuaries are expensive to maintain, therefore many become zoos to receive a constant income.
Most of us have memories of going to a wild and fun place full of animals of all sizes and shapes. Kids and adults would walk from one exhibit to the next, looking at and admiring the various species presented there. Now, we all know this place as the zoo. A place that features numerous collections of wild animals for the purpose of studying them, conserving them, or to just display them to the public. But, is the zoo really a place that is considered good for animals and their wellbeing?
The ethical answer is NO. Zoos are not good for the animals that live there. These establishments deprive animals of their natural habitats, natural social structure, and companionship, do not provide enough room for the animals, force animals to live in close proximity with other species and cause animals to become depressed and bored. Additionally, animals might accidentally imprint on humans and not their own species, which would make it difficult for them to return to the wild. In this case, it is clear that humans are the disturbance to these creatures.
However, there are some zoos that provide good care and protection for their animals. These types of zoos make sure to protect endangered species and also serve as an educational resource.
The best option for the wellbeing of animals, however, is a wildlife sanctuary. Wildlife sanctuaries, most in the form of a national park, are areas of land that are managed to conserve wildlife. Sanctuaries help protect wildlife and provide a safe place for them to breed and survive. These landscapes are protected from human activities like development, destruction, and pollution, which further ensures the wild animals’ safety. Another plus is that people can still visit these sanctuaries in specified areas so they won’t harm the animals! They have the chance for a fun outing while the animals stay safe and protected.