Are Zoos Ethical? Arguments for and Against Keeping Animals in Zoos

Zoos, if done right, could be a good thing for the animals and the public—yet many so-called zoos get it terribly wrong.

for and against essay of zoos

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A Brief History of Zoos

Arguments for zoos, arguments against zoos, the last word on zoos.

A zoo is a place where captive animals are put on display for humans to see. While early zoos (shortened from zoological parks) concentrated on displaying as many unusual creatures as possible—often in small, cramped conditions—the focus of most modern zoos is conservation and education. While zoo advocates and conservationists argue that zoos save endangered species and educate the public, many  animal rights activists believe the cost of confining animals outweighs the benefits, and that the violation of the rights of individual animals—even in efforts to fend off extinction—cannot be justified.

Humans have kept wild animals for thousands of years. The first efforts to keep wild animals for non-utilitarian uses began about 2500 BCE, when rulers in Mesopotamia, Egypt kept collections in enclosed pens.  Modern zoos began to evolve during the 18th century and the Age of Enlightenment, when scientific interest in zoology, as well as the study of animal behavior and anatomy, came to the fore.

Early zoos were a dismal affair. Animals were kept in small enclosures with little if any, greenery. With a scant understanding of what the various animals needed, many perished relatively quickly. In accredited U.S. zoos (and elsewhere) things are better now, fortunately. Primates, for example, have gone from barren cages with little furniture to naturalistic and sometimes semi-free-ranging designs. But is it enough?

  • By bringing people and animals together, zoos educate the public and foster an appreciation of other species.
  • Zoos save endangered species by bringing them into a safe environment, where they are protected from poachers, habitat loss, starvation, and predators.
  • Many zoos have breeding programs for endangered species. In the wild, these individuals might have trouble finding mates and breeding, and species could become extinct.
  • Some zoos have conservation programs around the world that use the zoo's expertise and funding to help protect wildlife against poaching and other threats.
  • Reputable zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums are held to high standards for the treatment of their resident animals. According to AZA, its accreditation guarantees that the organization has undergone strict evaluation by recognized experts to ensure the highest standards of "animal management and care, including living environments, social groupings, health, and nutrition."
  • A good zoo provides an enriched habitat in which the animals are never bored, are well cared for, and have plenty of space.
  • Seeing an animal in person is a much more personal and more memorable experience than seeing that animal in a nature documentary and is more likely to foster an empathetic attitude toward animals.
  • Some zoos help rehabilitate wildlife and take in exotic pets that people no longer want or are no longer able to care for.
  • Both accredited and unaccredited animal exhibitors are regulated by the federal Animal Welfare Act, which establishes standards for animal care.
  • From an animal rights standpoint, humans do not have a right to breed, capture, and confine other animals— even if those species are endangered . Being a member of an endangered species doesn't mean the individual animals should be afforded fewer rights.
  • Animals in captivity suffer from boredom, stress, and confinement. No pen—no matter how humane—or drive-through safari can compare to the freedom of the wild.
  • Intergenerational bonds are broken when individuals are sold or traded to other zoos.
  • Baby animals bring in visitors and money, but this incentive to breed new baby animals leads to overpopulation. Surplus animals are sold not only to other zoos, but also to circuses and hunting facilities. Some zoos simply kill their surplus animals outright.
  • Some captive breeding programs do not release animals back into the wild. The offspring may be forever part of the chain of zoos, circuses, and petting zoos.
  • Removing individual specimens from the wild further endangers the wild population because the remaining individuals will be less genetically diverse and may have greater difficulty finding mates. Maintaining species diversity within captive breeding facilities is also a challenge. 
  • If people want to see wild animals in real life, they can observe wildlife in the wild or visit a sanctuary. (A true sanctuary does not buy, sell, or breed animals, but instead takes in unwanted exotic pets, surplus animals from zoos, or injured wildlife that can no longer survive in the wild.)
  • The federal Animal Welfare Act establishes only the most minimal standards for cage size, shelter, health care, ventilation, fencing, food, and water. For example, enclosures must provide "sufficient space to allow each animal to make normal postural and social adjustments with adequate freedom of movement. Inadequate space may be indicated by evidence of malnutrition, poor condition, debility, stress, or abnormal behavior patterns." Violations often result in a slap on the wrist and the exhibitor is given a deadline to correct the violation. Even a long history of inadequate care and AWA violations, such as the history of Tony the Truck Stop Tiger, does not necessarily ensure abused animals will be freed.
  • Animals sometimes escape their enclosures, endangering themselves as well as people. Likewise, people ignore warnings or accidentally get too close to animals, leading to horrific outcomes. For example, Harambe, a 17-year-old western lowland gorilla, was shot in 2016 when a toddler accidentally fell into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. While the child survived and was not badly injured, the gorilla was killed outright.
  • Petting zoos have been linked with numerous incidents of diseases including E. coli infection, cryptosporidiosis, salmonellosis, and dermatomycosis (ringworm).

In making a case for or against zoos, both sides argue that they're saving animals. Whether or not zoos benefit the animal community, they certainly do make money. As long as there is demand for them, zoos will continue to exist.

Since zoos are likely an inevitability, the best way to move forward is to ensure that zoo conditions are the best possible for the animals that live in captivity and that individuals who violate animal care health and safety sanctions are not only duly punished but denied any future access to animals.

One day we may look back at zoos and marvel at their barbarity. Or, one day we may look back at zoos and be grateful for the species they saved from extinction. Of these two scenarios, only time will tell.

Hosey, Geoff, et al. Zoo Animals: Behaviour, Management, and Welfare . Oxford University Press. 2013.

Hosey, G. (2023). The History of Primates in Zoos . In: Robinson, L.M., Weiss, A. (eds) Nonhuman Primate Welfare. Springer, Cham.

“ Species Survival Plan Programs .” Association of Zoos & Aquariums.

“ Accreditation Basics .” Association of Zoos & Aquariums .

“ Animal Welfare Act and Animal Welfare Regulations .” U.S. Department of Agriculture .

Meagher, Rebecca K., Georgia J. Mason. “ Environmental Enrichment Reduces Signs of Boredom in Caged Mink .” PLoS ONE , vol. 7, 2012, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049180

Kleiman, Devra G., et al. Wild Mammals In Captivity: Principles And Techniques For Zoo Management, Second Edition . University of Chicago Press. 2010.

Gunasekera, Crystal Allen. “ The Ethics of Killing “Surplus” Zoo Animals .” Journal of Animal Ethics , vol. 8, 2018, doi:10.5406/janimalethics.8.1.0093

Brichieri-Colombi, Typhenn A., et al. “ Limited Contributions of Released Animals from Zoos to North American Conservation Translocations .” Conservation Biology , vol. 33, 2019, pp. 33-39., doi:10.1111/cobi.13160

Krasnec, Michelle O., et al. “ Mating Systems in Sexual Animals .” Nature Education Knowledge, vol. 3, no. 10, 2012, p. 72.

“ 9 CFR § 3.128 - Space Requirements .” Cornell University Legal Information Institute .

“ Animal Welfare Act Enforcement .” U.S. Department of Agriculture .

Conrad, Cheyenne C. Conrad et al. " Farm Fairs and Petting Zoos: A Review of Animal Contact as a Source of Zoonotic Enteric Disease ." Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, vol. 14, 2017, pp. 59-73., doi:10.1089/fpd.2016.2185

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Are zoos a good thing.

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How do you feel about keeping animals in zoos? Read both sides of the argument to help you decide.

Instructions

Do the preparation exercise first. Then read the text and do the other exercises.

Preparation

Zoos are hugely popular attractions for adults and children alike. But are they actually a good thing?

Critics of zoos would argue that animals often suffer physically and mentally by being enclosed. Even the best artificial environments can't come close to matching the space, diversity, and freedom that animals have in their natural habitats. This deprivation causes many zoo animals to become stressed or mentally ill. Capturing animals in the wild also causes much suffering by splitting up families. Some zoos make animals behave unnaturally: for example, marine parks often force dolphins and whales to perform tricks. These mammals may die decades earlier than their wild relatives, and some even try to commit suicide.

On the other hand, by bringing people and animals together, zoos have the potential to educate the public about conservation issues and inspire people to protect animals and their habitats. Some zoos provide a safe environment for animals which have been mistreated in circuses, or pets which have been abandoned. Zoos also carry out important research into subjects like animal behaviour and how to treat illnesses.

One of the most important modern functions of zoos is supporting international breeding programmes, particularly for endangered species. In the wild, some of the rarest species have difficulty in finding mates and breeding, and they might also be threatened by poachers, loss of their habitat and predators. A good zoo will enable these species to live and breed in a secure environment. In addition, as numbers of some wild species drop, there is an increased danger of populations becoming too genetically similar. Breeding programmes provide a safeguard: zoo-bred animals can be released into the wild to increase genetic diversity.

However, opponents of zoos say that the vast majority of captive breeding programmes do not release animals back into the wild. Surplus animals are sold not only to other zoos but also to circuses or hunting ranches in the US or South Africa, where some people are willing to pay a lot of money for the chance to kill an animal in a fenced enclosure. Often, these animals are familiar with humans and have very little chance of escaping.

So, are zoos good for animals or not? Perhaps it all depends on how well individual zoos are managed, and the benefits of zoos can surely outweigh their harmful effects. However, it is understandable that many people believe imprisoning animals for any reason is simply wrong.

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Zoos. For and Against Essay.

  • Post author: faixav
  • Post published: 17 January 2022
  • Post category: Abilities

How long no see!

I have been very busy with my exams and I will be taking the final very soon. So I’ll take the opportunity to leave something interesting here. How about an essay?

Task . B1 level.

Write a for and against , about 120-150 words.

Some people think that zoos are an excellent place to learn about the animal kingdom, but others, on the contrary, believe that zoos should be banned. Discuss their advantages and disadvantages.

Every year more and more people visit zoos around the world. It is a good way to know different kinds of animals from all the countries without moving or taking risk. But zoos can have both, advantages and disadvantages.

One of the advantages of the zoos is that it is the opportunity to see wild animals in a safe environment for people. In addition, it can be an educational activity you can enjoy with family and children love. Another advantage is that vets can learn about animals and their habitats. Furthermore , zoos help endangered species to avoid their extinction.

On the other hand , there are also some disadvantages. Firstly , lack of freedom, animals are sad because they are not free and live in an unnatural habitat. Secondly , animals have a high rate of reproductive problems due to their confinement. And additionally , taking care of the natural habitats of these animals would actually cost less than caring for them in a zoo.

To sum up , zoos are suitable places where children can also learn about animal kingdom. However, some people say that they should be banned. Then , we should make ourselves the following question, are zoos really necessary?

PS ; This is just an example of a writing and not always they express what I really think. You should know that sometimes some topics are really controversial. Although I recommend you to personalize your works such as, speakings, writings and so on. You will find it easier to do them.

Structure of an Essay

A discursive essay is a piece of formal writing which is focused on discuss a particular situation or problem and you may find three types of discursive essays:

  • For and Against essays which present both sides of an issue or situation discussing points in favour of a particular topic as well as those against.
  • Opinion essays which present the writer’s personal opinion concerning the topic given.
  • Essay suggesting solutions to problems, in which the writer analyses the problems associated with a particular issue or situation.

An essay generally consists of :

  • A short introductory paragraph , maybe two or three lines, a brief summary of what the essay will show, but you only could express your opinion in this point, if it is an opinion essay.
  • A main body with different ideas separated into paragraphs, giving examples or reasons, pros and cons, suggestions and solutions and so on. There are a lot of interesting connectors to use such as, on the one hand, on the other hand, in addition, furthermore, besides, apart from, however, nevertheless, the fact that and so on.
  • A closing paragraph summarising the main points of the essay to reaffirm the ideas, giving your opinion using connector such as, in conclusion, on balance, to sum up, it is my belief, I firmly believe, etc.

Here , you will find more examples or click on  Tag Cloud , on the right side of the screen.

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Pros and cons of zoos: Should animals be kept in zoos?

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Animal cruelty or protection? Learn about the pros and cons of zoos and join our debate and poll: Should there be zoos? Should animals be kept in captivity? Vote and explain your view on whether zoos are necessary or should be banned.

Should animals be kept in zoos?

Over 181 million people visit zoos and aquariums every year in the United States, and 25 million in the United Kingdom. Zoos have more visitors than the combined attendance of the four major sports leagues ( NFL , NBA , MLB and NHL ). Despite their immense popularity , zoos have become increasingly controversial institutions. An increasing number of animal rights advocates and animal protection organizations are questioning the role of zoos in modern societies. The shocking evidence of animal abuse in some circuses , dolphinariums and zoos have pushed many environmental and wildlife activist groups to campaign for the closure of many of the institutions that keep wild animals in captivity.

To the question "should animals be kept in captivity?" the initial reaction of most people is rejection. Why should animals be kept in zoos? In an ideal world that would not be necessary, wild animals would roam freely in their natural habitats and we, humans, would find ways to observe them and learn about them without disrupting their lives. However, today on Earth due to population growth and urbanization many animal species are endangered and most people have very few opportunities to observe and learn from animals.

Jane Goodall , the famous British primatologist and one of the most important experts in chimpanzees in the world, has defended the role of zoos in helping us understand and preserve the life of wild animals (see video below). On the other hand, organizations such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), Animal Aid and Born Free have initiated campaigns for the closure of zoos, arguing that most zoos deprive animals from their most basic needs and that animal abuse and suffering should not be a source of entertainment.

Do you think that zoos are an effective way to increase awareness about animal life? Do they really help preserve endangered species or it is more a business and a cruel source of entertainment? Is keeping animals in captivity a good way to ensure their future? Let's take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of zoos before we make up our minds.

Watch this video with Jane Goodall on the role of zoos in saving animals

Pros and cons of zoos

These are the most common arguments in favor and against zoos.

Pros of zoos

  • After the famous wildlife conservationist Geral Durrell opened a zoo in Jersey in 1959, zoos all over the world have embraced the mission of saving endangered species in the world. Zoos are not like the exotic animal menageries from the middle ages. They want to provide entertainment but they are greatly concerned with the protection of animals and their natural habitats. Zoos help raising awareness and funding for wildlife initiatives and research projects.
  • Animals are not always caged in zoos. Edinburgh was the first British zoo to follow the idea of displaying animals without bars. The Chester and Whipsnade zoological parks where the first two non-urban zoos without cages and larger enclosures. They opened in 1931. In the 1960s The drive-through safari parks became very popular. Ever since there has been an increasing public concern about animal welfare in zoos.
  • Zoos are monitored and follow strict regulation in most developed countries. There is less room for animal cruelty in zoos than ever before in history.
  • Most people working in zoos are true animal lovers. Veterinary doctors, zoologist, voluntary staff, etc. chose to work in zoos because they like animals, and wanted to work closely with them and help them thrive.
  • Education is another positive feature of zoos. Many children and adults in cities can only see wild animals in TV or the Internet. Zoos offer them the unique experience of contemplating real animals. They can smell them, see how they move and listen their sounds. This is a much more vivid and enriching experience than the one you can get through a screen. Thanks to zoos kids and adult develop empathy toward animals.
  • Zoos are key for research . Being able to observe and study animals is crucial if we want to contribute to help them and repair the ecosystems. They also help redice human-animal conflicts and better understand the needs and psychology of animals. Zoos serve as laboratories to learn more about how to fight animal diseases and develop effective animal anaesthetics and other treatments to help more animals in the future.
  • Another pro of zoos is their role in animal reproduction. Zoos study animal breeding and thanks to them many wild animals in captivity can reproduce. This is particularly important in the case of endangered species. Due to the low density of the population of some animals in their natural ecosystems they struggle to find partners. Some populations in the wild are weakened by endogamy too. In zoos vets and biologist help to prevent inbreeding.

Cons of zoos

  • Animal cruelty in zoos continues to be extremely common. There are continuous cases of animals abused by visitors and zoo workers. Many of them are reported every week in the media, however, the large majority are kept secret and those responsible are never held accountable or punished.
  • Animals in captivity are deprived of many things that are important to them, as a result they become lonely and bored. Many of them suffer from "zoochosis" , a psychological condition characterized by repetitive and obsessive behaviors including vomiting, excessive grooming, coprophagia and self-mutilation. 
  • Most animals in zoos still live in small enclosures and cages . There are Safari Parks and large zoos in which animals have more space and live in an enviroment slightly more similar to their natural habitat .however, the large majority of zoos in the world are much smaller and have less economic means than the big zoos we often see in the media such as the San Diego Zoo, the Berlin Zoological Garden, the San Louis Zoo, etc. 
  • In zoos many animals sicken and die because they contract diseases from other animals and species. Zoos usually group animals from many different parts of the world with very distinct immunological systems. People also have been sickened from diseases contracted from animals in zoos.
  • Many zoos do little for research or animal protection. They are simply businesses run with the sole purpose of making money . Their concern for animals is secondary. Cost efficiency often means they move animal welfare down in the list of priorities. 
  • Zoos and aquariums have incentivized the illegal hunt of animals . Historically poachers have hunted and sold wild animals for zoos all over the world. Although this practice is increasingly prosecuted in most countries, there are still small zoos and aquariums which acquire their animals without paying much attention to their origin. 
  • From an ethical point of view zoos are also questionable. Zoos are a typical form of family entertainment, but associating leisure and fun with the contemplation of animals in captivity can send the wrong signals to our children. Zoos can be construed as a sadistic pleasure .

Do you think zoos are necessary? Do the cons of zoos outweight their benefits? Should we boycott or ban zoos? Vote and join our debate (see below)

Watch this video on "zoochosis" and the living conditions of animals in captivity

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Are Zoos Good or Bad for Animals? The Argument, Explained

Debates about the ethics of zoos abound — but when it comes to animal welfare, there are certainly more cons than pros.

captive primate with person taking photo with phone, pros and cons of zoos

Explainer • Entertainment • Policy

Björn Ólafsson

Words by Björn Ólafsson

For many people, zoos are the only chance they’ll have in their entire lives to see beautiful animals native to far-flung ecosystems — lions, elephants, pandas, lemurs — the list goes on. And they’re popular — over 181 million people visit a U.S. zoo every year . But zoos face criticism from animal welfare organizations and environmental activists for inhumane treatment of the animals they claim to protect. Zoos maintain that they are important aspects of conservation and education. 

So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of zoos ?  Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of these controversial organizations. 

What Are Some Pros and Cons of Zoos ?

First, not all zoos are created equal. While it is easy to imagine animal ethics as a binary of evil and moral, zoos can vary widely on how they treat their animals, how much space they are given and how the animals are obtained. Still, most zoos tend to have the same positives and negatives overall. 

Arguments Against Zoos

Poor conditions for animals.

Animals Often Only Have Quite Limited Space

Many zoos’ enclosures are too small, especially for animal species that are used to roaming, flying or swimming large distances in the wild. For example, polar bears are used to home ranges of about 1,000 square kilometers in the wild — large swaths of land and ice they enjoy exploring . In zoos, they get a couple hundred square feet. 

Zoos Are  Crowded

In addition to limited space, many zoos cram in as many animals as possible into the enclosures. Many visitors prefer seeing animals up close, instead of peering at them from afar, hidden in their dens or nests. This encourages zoos to increase the number of animals per exhibit,  increasing the likelihood of visitors seeing animals on the move near the boundaries of the enclosure. 

Animals Are Trapped in Unnatural Environments

Anyone who has visited a zoo knows the exhibits are a far cry from the natural landscape they are trying to imitate. Nearly all zoo enclosures contain fences, glass or other barriers for visitors to look through, which are inherently artificial. And the natural-seeming landscapes can sometimes be made out of astroturf, concrete or plastic.

Confinement May Alter the Behavior of Animals

The lack of space, unnatural environments and crowded conditions can directly affect the behavior of animals ; most notably in the form of what’s known as “stereotypy.” Stereotypy is a condition in which non-human animals engage in repetitive behaviors with no apparent purpose, such as pacing for hours on end, wagging tails abnormally or picking their own fur. 

The structure of zoos increases the likelihood of stereotypic behavior due to a lack of enrichment, mundane environments and boring, repetitive schedules. This prevalence of stereotypy in zoos even has its own name: “zoochosis,” or psychosis caused by zoos . 

‘Surplus’ Animals Can Be Killed

After an animal has reproduced successfully and the zoo no longer requires the animal to maintain an exhibit, the animal is deemed “surplus.” At this point, the animal’s welfare is no longer profitable . Zoos can sell the animal to private owners (who may keep the animal in tiny cages for amusement or kill the animal for taxidermy purposes), sell the animal to other zoos or enclosures, or “euthanize” the animal. 

Animals Are Often Mistreated 

Animal mistreatment is much more than hitting or beating an animal. It also includes harmful training techniques, separation from family members and forcing animals to behave in abnormal ways. 

In a report from World Animal Protection, three-fourths of zoos include human-animal interactions , many of which can be very stressful or physically harmful for animals. In some extreme cases, visitors rode on the backs of animals (causing injury) or encroached on the animals’ enclosure (causing stress).

Investigations into popular zoos sometimes reveal that caretakers don’t always clean the exhibits frequently , leaving the animals to live near their feces. The research also reveals many zookeepers hitting animals who “misbehave,” and not helping animals with injuries sustained in the enclosures. While not all animal caretakers behave this way, the reporting suggests many zoos around the world are lax with animal welfare. 

Animals Don’t Like Being Visited

The mere presence of human beings can negatively affect wild animals, especially in massive crowds that are common at zoos. Being bombarded by the sounds, smells and appearances of swaths of humans can trigger the stress responses of some animals . Some studies show that the number of visitors correlates with the amount of stress hormones in many animal species. 

Animals Struggle to Form Connections

Many animals are highly social creatures. Elephants, lions, pigs, cows and many more species are shown to have complex connections, hierarchies and relationships with members of their own kind — especially with friends and family. However, zoo animals rarely stay with the same herd or family for their entire lives. Instead, zoos opt to transfer, sell, buy or relocate animals throughout their lifespans, making it difficult for animals to form social connections . This lack of bonding can harm the animals emotionally. 

Zoos Are for Humans, Not Animals

Most zoos are for-profit enterprises, meaning they have one goal in mind: maximizing revenue. It is easy to see how making more money can come at the expense of animal welfare. For example, a zoo is unlikely to fund an exhibit expansion if it isn’t cost-effective, regardless of its benefits for the animals inside. While many zookeepers form real bonds with their animal companions, the animals still exist under a for-profit, human-centered organization. 

Zoos Promote Human Superiority

The aesthetic nature of zoos — animals in panopticon-like enclosures, viewed 24/7 by members of a different species — can reinforce human superiority. As moral philosopher Lori Gruen writes in her book, “visitors leave the zoo more convinced than ever of human superiority over the natural world.” Of course, zoos also reinforce the idea that humans have a right to take away animals’ freedom and bodily autonomy.

Zoos Don’t Always Help with Conservation — Some Wild Animals Have to Be Caught to Bring Them to Zoos

Many animals in zoos are born in captivity, but that’s not the case for all. Many animals are taken directly from the wild , often when they are babies, to make the transition to captivity a bit easier. At times, this is done in the name of conservation, or when a wild animal is very ill. But many zoos will take animals from the wild, or buy animals from unethical animal traders. 

It’s Often Not Possible to Return Animals to the Wild

Releasing an animal into the wild isn’t always successful, especially if the animal has spent time in climates different from their native regions, like jungles, savannas or ice caps. Properly preparing animals for success in the wild is a multi-stage process that can require thousands of dollars — and it doesn’t always work . Captive-born predator species — disadvantaged by being born and raised in an artificial environment — only have a survival rate after being released into the wild of 33 percent , according to one study. As a result, re-release is not a priority for many zoos.

Zoos Are Poorly Regulated

While there exist many laws that protect animals, such as the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the Endangered Species Act , they only offer minimum protections . For example, the AWA excludes entire species of animals, like mice, farmed animals, birds and all cold-blooded animals. Its “minimum” standards of care usually ensure the animals’ safety, not their welfare or happiness. Many animal law experts say these regulations don’t go far enough . 

What Are the Pros of Having Zoos?

They Can Be Important for Researchers

Biologists and zoologists can benefit from studying animals in zoos. Some breakthroughs in animal behavior and treatment, like why elephants swing their trunks or how gorillas develop heart disease, have been made possible because of zoos’ ease of access . However, not all animals behave the same in captivity as they do in the wild, so not all research is possible in zoos. 

Zoos Are Educational — People May Behave “Eco-friendlier” After Going To the Zoo

Zoos can kickstart individuals’ interest in biodiversity, which is a critical aspect of environmental protection. Many zoos include calls to action in their exhibits, highlighting how endangered animals are being poached, driven away, or otherwise killed by human activity. This can inspire some people to behave more conscientiously. One limited survey found that 35 percent of eco-friendly people learned sustainable behavior from zoos . ‘

Zoos Can Help Educate Children About Animals

Zoos are a quintessential school experience for many young people. Children love learning about animals up-close in a safe environment — in fact, education is possibly the biggest advantage of modern zoos. Many programs, like school presentations, guided tours, informational exhibits, and talks with zookeepers can trigger a lifelong love of animals in children .  

But zoos aren’t perfect in this regard. According to a study of zoo visitors in the UK, only 34 percent of children learned more about animals at zoos (the result was slightly better when the children were given  a guided tour). Worse, children did not feel empowered to help with conservation efforts after visiting a zoo. This suggests that if zoos care about education, they need to more actively reach out to schoolchildren for empowerment and education. 

Going to the Zoo Is Affordable

More ethical ways of engaging with animals without removing them from their natural habitats — like whale watching, safaris, hikes, or excursions — are usually expensive or inaccessible for many people. Zoos tend to be relatively cheap for the average family that wants to learn about animals. 

Conservation

Zoos Can Protect Endangered Species from Extinction

Zoos often claim they can protect entire species from extinction through conservation programs that involve breeding more animals in captivity and then releasing them into the wild. This is especially important for endangered species like pandas. 

While these conservation efforts are truly important, they don’t represent the majority of a zoo’s activities, nor are zoos leaders in conservation worldwide. At the National Zoo, for example, only one-fifth of animals are endangered . In North America, zoos only contribute about 14 percent of all animals reintroduced into the wild as part of a conservation program. Zoos also tend to focus on headline-grabbing endangered animals to bring in visitors, like pandas, elephants or tigers, as opposed to lesser-known but crucial species, like tamarins, kakapos or wombats. 

Are Zoos Good or Bad for the Environment?

Zoos claim to support global biodiversity through conservation efforts like protecting endangered animals. This is somewhat true, although it varies greatly from zoo to zoo. 

On the other hand, zoos are big polluters and use up lots of resources , especially energy and water . Aquariums in particular use tons and tons of water. Zoo animals also generate waste that may or may not be composted or disposed of correctly.

Should Zoos Exist or Be Banned?

Given the many ways that zoos are unethical to animals, the flawed attempts to contribute to conservation, and the positioning of humans as superior to animals, many animal ethicists believe zoos should not exist — or at least, not exist in their current form . 

For example, animal philosopher Dale Jamieson says in his book Ethics on the Ark that zoos primarily “alleviate our sense of guilt for what we are doing to the planet, but they do little to help the animals we are driving to extinction.” He continues to argue that zoos exist for humans alone , and that it is very difficult to wave away the inherent immorality of depriving animals their liberty for the sake of human amusement. 

Instead, private conservation programs can benefit endangered animals without showcasing them to the public. Animal sanctuaries, which are  areas of land in which endangered and other animals are protected by humans, are also advantageous for both individual animals and global biodiversity . 

Zoos do have advantages — fostering curiosity and education chief among them. But experts believe there are other ways of accomplishing these goals without resorting to zoos with tiny enclosures. Excursions, nature documentaries, safaris, local gardens, hikes, boat tours and other ways of interacting with nature don’t involve taking animals out of their natural habitats. 

The Bottom Line

If you do choose to visit a zoo, opt for zoos that have certifications from independent animal welfare organizations. If you are interested in animal conservation, you’d be more impactful donating to a non-zoo animal protection organization instead. And if you do want to visit animals, consider an animal sanctuary or an ethical safari, where you can see animals in their native environments.

Independent Journalism Needs You

Björn Jóhann Ólafsson is a science writer and journalist who cares deeply about understanding the natural world and her inhabitants through stories and data. He reports on the environmental footprint of the meat industry, the alternative protein sector and cultural attitudes around food. His previous bylines include the EU Observer and Elemental. He lives in Spain with his two lovebirds.

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Are Zoos Immoral?

A guest opinion essay argues that modern zoos are harmful to the health and well-being of animals. Do you agree? Is it time to rethink the zoo, and perhaps even end them?

for and against essay of zoos

By Jeremy Engle

Do you like going to the zoo? Do you have a favorite?

Have you ever stopped to consider the possible harmful effects zoos might have on the animals?

In “ Modern Zoos Are Not Worth the Moral Cost ,” Emma Marris, an environmental writer, asks the reader to reconsider the value of zoos and the effects of captivity on the animals we visit:

After being captives of the pandemic for more than a year, we have begun experiencing the pleasures of simple outings: dining al fresco, shopping with a friend, taking a stroll through the zoo. As we snap a selfie by the sea lions for the first time in so long, it seems worth asking, after our collective ordeal, whether our pleasure in seeing wild animals up close is worth the price of their captivity. Throughout history, men have accumulated large and fierce animals to advertise their might and prestige. Power-mad men from Henry III to Saddam Hussein’s son Uday to the drug kingpin Pablo Escobar to Charlemagne all tried to underscore their strength by keeping terrifying beasts captive. William Randolph Hearst created his own private zoo with lions, tigers, leopards and more at Hearst Castle. It is these boastful collections of animals, these autocratic menageries, from which the modern zoo, with its didactic plaques and $15 hot dogs, springs.

Ms. Marris describes how the “educational day out” model of zoos endured until the late 20th century, when zoos began actively rebranding themselves as serious contributors to conservation, functioning as “ambassadors” for their species and teaching humans to care about wildlife.

However, she writes, while species such as the Arabian oryx, the California condor and Black-footed ferrets were saved from extinction by the concerted efforts of zoos, these popular public institutions remain largely about entertainment and family outings:

A fine day out with the family might itself be justification enough for the existence of zoos if the zoo animals are all happy to be there. Alas, there’s plenty of heartbreaking evidence that many are not. In many modern zoos, animals are well cared for, healthy and probably, for many species, content. Zookeepers are not mustache-twirling villains. They are kind people, bonded to their charges and immersed in the culture of the zoo, in which they are the good guys. But many animals clearly show us that they do not enjoy captivity. When confined they rock, pull their hair and engage in other tics. Captive tigers pace back and forth, and in a 2014 study, researchers found that “the time devoted to pacing by a species in captivity is best predicted by the daily distances traveled in nature by the wild specimens.” It is almost as if they feel driven to patrol their territory, to hunt, to move, to walk a certain number of steps, as if they have a Fitbit in their brains. The researchers divided the odd behaviors of captive animals into two categories: “impulsive/compulsive behaviors,” including coprophagy (eating feces), regurgitation, self-biting and mutilation, exaggerated aggressiveness and infanticide, and “stereotypies,” which are endlessly repeated movements. Elephants bob their heads over and over. Chimps pull out their own hair. Giraffes endlessly flick their tongues. Bears and cats pace. Some studies have shown that as many as 80 percent of zoo carnivores, 64 percent of zoo chimps and 85 percent of zoo elephants have displayed compulsive behaviors or stereotypies. Elephants are particularly unhappy in zoos, given their great size, social nature and cognitive complexity. Many suffer from arthritis and other joint problems from standing on hard surfaces; elephants kept alone become desperately lonely; and all zoo elephants suffer mentally from being cooped up in tiny yards while their free-ranging cousins walk up to 50 miles a day. Zoo elephants tend to die young. At least 20 zoos in the United States have already ended their elephant exhibits in part because of ethical concerns about keeping the species captive.

Ms. Marris concludes her essay with some ways to reimagine and transform the zoo:

What if zoos stopped breeding all their animals, with the possible exception of any endangered species with a real chance of being released back into the wild? What if they sent all the animals that need really large areas or lots of freedom and socialization to refuges? With their apes, elephants, big cats, and other large and smart species gone, they could expand enclosures for the rest of the animals, concentrating on keeping them lavishly happy until their natural deaths. Eventually, the only animals on display would be a few ancient holdovers from the old menageries, animals in active conservation breeding programs and perhaps a few rescues. Such zoos might even be merged with sanctuaries, places that take wild animals that because of injury or a lifetime of captivity cannot live in the wild. Existing refuges often do allow visitors, but their facilities are really arranged for the animals, not for the people. These refuge-zoos could become places where animals live. Display would be incidental.

Students, read the entire article , then tell us:

Do you like going to the zoo? Do you have a favorite one? Tell us about a memorable experience you had at a zoo.

What impact have zoos had on you? Have they helped you to develop what some zoos call a “conservation ethic?” Do you look at the animals with a “sense of empathy for the individual animal, as well as the wild populations of that animal,” as Dan Ashe, a former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, hopes? Have zoos made you care more about conservation or take any action to support it?

What is your reaction to Ms. Marris’s essay? Which details on the harmful effects of captivity on animals, such as the physical and emotional toll on elephants, stand out? What do they make you think or feel?

How persuasive is Ms. Marris’s argument? Are zoos immoral or wrong? Is our pleasure in seeing wild animals up close worth the price of their captivity? What do you see as the benefits and harms of zoos, both for the human visitors and the animals who live in them?

What do you think of Ms. Marris’s recommendations for transforming the zoo? Do you think her idea of the “refuge-zoo,” a place where animals live and displays are incidental, is a good one? What other ideas do you have to improve or reform the modern zoo?

Do you think you will visit zoos in the future? Why or why not?

Want more writing prompts? You can find all of our questions in our Student Opinion column . Teachers, check out this guide to learn how you can incorporate them into your classroom.

Students 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

Jeremy Engle joined The Learning Network as a staff editor in 2018 after spending more than 20 years as a classroom humanities and documentary-making teacher, professional developer and curriculum designer working with students and teachers across the country. More about Jeremy Engle

Hot topic: is it time for zoos to be banned?

A hangover of the victorian sideshow or an integral part of wildlife conservation we ask if zoos should be consigned to the history books along with the bearded lady..

Giraffes

Regardless of the merits or ethics of zoos, one thing's for certain: they're going to be around for some years yet.

The polar bears in Winnipeg have disco poo. Their droppings look like little glitterballs.

Before anyone starts sprinkling the stuff on their cornflakes, this isn't the hottest new beauty trend nor is it a natural phenomenon: Assiniboine Park Zoo's keepers use coloured glitter in the bears' feed to identify their droppings.

Why? Well, scat reveals all sorts of things about individual animals; information the keepers share with the scientific community. Many zoos conduct such studies, and also run captive breeding programmes for endangered species. However, critics say this doesn't justify their existence.

"Zoos are prisons for animals, camouflaging their cruelty with conservation claims," Mimi Bekhechi, director of international programmes at PETA, explains. "Animals in zoos suffer tremendously, both physically and mentally. They often display neurotic behaviour, like repetitive pacing, swaying, and bar biting. Not surprising, perhaps, considering the typical polar bear enclosure is one million times smaller than the area they would naturally roam."

PETA isn't alone. In April, ethical tour operator Responsible Travel — after consultation with wildlife charity Born Free Foundation — axed trips that include zoo visits. It's the first travel company to publicly make such a move.

Read more: Should I worry about chemtrails?

"Only 15% of the thousands of species held in zoos are considered 'threatened'," says Will Travers OBE, president of Born Free. "An even smaller proportion are part of captive breeding programmes and, of those, a tiny fraction have been released back into the wild. That's not a record that justifies tens of millions of wild animals kept in zoos."

PETA's Bekhechi adds, the aim of breeding programmes is just "to produce baby animals to attract visitors."

Some, however, argue that children benefit from zoos. "We engage huge audiences with wildlife, inspiring the conservationists of tomorrow," argues zoological director of ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos, Professor David Field. That claim is up for debate. A 2014 study by the Society for Conservation Biology found that of over 2,800 children surveyed following visits to London Zoo, 62% showed no positive learning outcomes.

But, for every story that casts zoos in a bad light — from Vince the rhino's poaching at Paris' Thoiry Zoo in March; Cincinnati Zoo shooting endangered gorilla, Harambe, last year after a child fell into his enclosure; or Copenhagen Zoo killing and publicly dissecting Marius, a two-year-old giraffe in 2014 — there are heart-warming tales too.

Zoos across the US can take credit for reviving the wild Arabian oryx, golden lion tamarin and Californian condor populations, among many others. And Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo has an on-site Wildlife Hospital to save sick and injured native species.

In the age of social media, high profile culls have sparked heated debates. The shooting of Harambe the gorilla spawned the most-shared meme of 2016 and caused a hounded Cincinnati Zoo to suspend its social media accounts. When it comes to lethal force and animal welfare, at least, public opinion swiftly sides against zoos.

But whether recent events have triggered a profound shift in public consciousness is harder to quantify. Regardless of the merits or ethics of zoos, one thing's for certain: they're going to be around for some years yet.

How can you tell a zoo from a sanctuary?

The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) operates an accreditation system for sanctuaries, rescue centres and rehabilitation centres. Look out for the GFAS seal of approval.

So it's better to have 'close encounters' with animals in the wild, right?

Wrong! Step away from the selfie stick. Don't be suckered into supporting companies that offer experiences like hugging a tiger, swimming with dolphins, riding elephants, or kissing sharks. These experiences are often harmful to wildlife and dangerous for you.

How do we save wildlife if not by breeding programmes?

PETA says: "People who care about protecting endangered species should donate to organisations that safeguard them in their natural habitats — if a species' native environment has been destroyed, there's nowhere left for the animals to go."

Published in the June 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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  • Environment and Conservation
  • Is Keeping Wild Animals In Zoos Unethical?: Arguments For And Against

A caged animal often leads a miserable life.

A zoo is an establishment that displays animals typically for recreation and education. Extensive collections of animals that were maintained in antiquity cannot be considered as zoos. Such ancient collections were not held for exhibition in public parks or maintained for purposes of education and recreation. For example, the Romans kept collections of wild animals for ancient games. After the conquest of Dacia, Emperor Trajan  held 123 days  of games in celebration, during which thousands of animals were slaughtered, including elephants, lions, rhinoceroses, tigers, giraffes, crocodiles, bulls, hippopotami and stags. Major cities often had arenas and animals in stock for the games. In the fifth century, France had 26 such arenas, and the tradition held on until at least the 8th century. Large animal collections were also kept as a sign of power. The first modern zoos were established in the 18th century in Madrid, Vienna, and Paris. The cities of Berlin and London later founded zoos in the nineteenth century. The first American zoos were established in the 1970s in the cities of Cincinnati and Philadelphia. Today there are hundreds of zoos in the US that are visited by millions of people every year.

Arguments In Favor Of Zoos

The role played by zoos in educating the public is the most popular argument in favor of establishing and maintaining zoos. In 1898, the  reason was cited  by the New York Zoological Society when it resolved to inform the public of the continued decline in animal populations, to stimulate sentiment in favor of animal protection, and to cooperate with scientific organizations to ensure the preservation of species. Modern zoos play a critical role in the education of children and families about the various animals found on our planet. Staff from the zoo also travels to schools to make presentations or to offer special programs in the zoo to educate visitors. Zoos also partner with local communities to extend the knowledge of animals and conservation to a wider audience.

Protection Of Endangered Animals

In the course of history, various species have been wiped-out or pushed to the brink of extinction. Currently, several animal species are classified as endangered, vulnerable, and near-extinct by the IUCN. Placing such animals in zoos, especially those hunted and poached, provides them with a safe environment where the species can thrive. With the dangers of climate change fast approaching, such measures are proving extremely important for the conservation of species. Recently Australia has had to face an unprecedented wave of bush fires that have been blamed on climate change. The fires have destroyed vast areas of habitat and killed millions of of animals, including Kangaroos, koalas, and other species unique to the continent. Experts believe that such fires are expected to occur more frequently and at a higher intensity. It is, therefore, essential to have animals in zoos and other areas where they can be accorded extra protection from such unpredictable events.

Captive Breeding

Zoos provide areas where captive breeding can be carried out for release into the wild. For example, in 1945, about  13 Przewalski horses  were captured and placed in a zoo before they disappeared from the wild in 1966. Extensive breeding programs at the zoo and reintroduction into wild habitats helped in saving the species from extinction. Today there are over 1,500 Przewalski horses that are descendants of the 13 horses that were placed in a zoo at the end of WWII. Other animals that have been preserved in protected areas such as zoos include the Golden Lion Tamarin, Arabian Oryx, Freshwater mussels, and the Puerto Rican Parrot.

Economic Benefits To The Community

In addition to providing residence to animals, zoos create jobs and tourism opportunities that generate revenue for the local community. For example, Woodland Park Zoo, situated in Seattle, pays $17 million in wages annually. The zoo also pays $5.2 million for vendor contracts. The zoo generates 70% of its revenue from zoo visits and contributions.

Specialized care

Today zoos are staffed with highly trained personnel having specialized knowledge on the animals they are tasked to care for. Animals in the zoo are therefore guaranteed the best care that is available outside their native environment. Many zoos also have veterinarians, pathologists, and technicians who can provide specialized care to animals, including parasite removal and other forms of treatment. Zoo personnel are also aware of the physical and dietary requirements that each species needs to maintain them in a healthy state. The animals are involved in activities that help them remain, among other things, mentally alert and fit. Activities do not adequately replace migration and hunting requirements for animals, but they do eliminate deterioration and boredom at the zoo.

Scientific Research

 Zoos support scientific research by allowing scientists easy access to specimens or species under study. Research that is conducted in zoos is mainly in the fields of behavioral studies, anatomy, and pathology. Such studies create models that help improve zoo conditions so that animals can live longer, breed more successfully, and be happier. Many zoos currently work in collaboration with universities that research the facilities and train professionals such as veterinarians who can then help care for animals.

Arguments Against Zoos

for and against essay of zoos

Today most zoos have become recreation facilities where people can go and view animals for entertainment and amusement. Taking an animal from its natural habitat for the sole reason of human entertainment raises several moral and ethical issues. Most experts agree that the pleasure we take from viewing animals is not a good enough reason for holding animals in captivity. Since visits to zoos will, in most instances, be for amusement, some zoos are addressing the moral dilemma by allocating revenues earned to further research and preservation efforts of various wildlife species.

Animal Welfare Overlooked

In some zoos, animal welfare is often overlooked, leaving captive animals to suffer under conditions that are psychologically and physiologically damaging. For example, lions and a black bear that used to live in Magic World Zoo in Aleppo, Syria, were  abandoned at the  zoo to face starvation and injury when the Syrian Civil war broke out. Once they were rescued, they were found to be suffering from malnutrition, kidney, and cardiac problems, as well as trauma from living in a war zone. There are also numerous instances of animal cruelty in zoos. Another example is that of a lion named Cameroon and a tiger named Zabu that were  rescued from a  rundown roadside zoo in 2004 and transferred to a Florida Sanctuary. At their previous home, the two animals were kept captive by their owners, who tried to make them make produce liger cubs. 

Adverse Effects Of Unnatural Conditions

Even if the zoos where the conditions are okay, holding some animal species in captivity can adversely affect their wellbeing. For example,  orcas do poorly  in captivity. Wild orcas live for up to 100 years but live for less than 30 years when kept in captivity. Zoos are also unable to create exact replicas of the natural environment. For example, it is impossible to replicate the natural environment for elephants, which are known to travel 30-50 kilometers each day in the wild. The Alaska Zoo, for example, was struggling to maintain Maggie, the elephant, due to the weather conditions. The elephant was often forced to stay inside in a tiny enclosure to escape the conditions. The zoo eventually bought her a treadmill to help her get some exercise, but she refused. Due to a lack of activity, the elephant's feet began to deteriorate to a point where it became difficult for her to walk.

Breeding Programs Create Dependencies

Zoos that practice breeding programs face challenges when reintroducing animals back into the wild. Predators bred in zoos, for example, grow accustomed to life in the zoo and have  trouble adapting  to a change in the environment when they are sent back to the wild. In some cases, the animals die after being released from captivity due to a lack of necessary survival skills.

Change In Animal Behavior Due To Captivity

Restriction of some animals such as elephants adversely affects their migratory instincts leading to aggressive behavior. About  75 elephants  in various zoos have had to be euthanized before reaching the age of 40. Aggressive behavior, particularly among predatory species, can pose a significant risk to zookeepers and visitors.

Overpopulation

Baby animals are a major attraction in many zoos. Some zoos continuously breed animals to get new-borns to keep visitors coming and revenue streams flowing. In addition to raising ethical and moral questions on such breeding, frequent births  lead to overpopulation  in a zoo with limited space. Zoos sometimes sell surplus animals to other zoos or circus rings and hunting facilities. In some cases, the animals are euthanized. Regardless of the way they are disposed, animals end up depressed when separated from one another. Mothers whose new-borns are ripped away from them become stressed and depressed for the remainder of their lives.

Animals And Liberty

There are  two main points  of view when considering animal liberty. The legal standpoint where animals are considered property and the ethical perspective where it is deemed to be unethical to force animals to remain in a small enclosure. It is essential to know that the issue of animal rights has been factored into various national and international laws indicating that there is a need to protect animal welfare. The inclusion of legislation on animal rights, however, does not adequately address the question of  animal liberties . To that extent, experts have suggested that we have to consider whether we have duties to animals or not. By acknowledging that we have obligations to animals, we should, therefore, respect their interests, needs, wants, and rights.

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Should Zoos be Banned? Pros & Cons of Zoos

Published by ecocation on october 18, 2023 october 18, 2023.

Should zoos be banned? Are zoos bad or good?

This question is heavily debated and there is no definite answer for it.  Shutting down all zoos goes against saving animals. But, stopping them from keeping certain animals or doing certain types of research isn’t wrong. It really boils down to how zoos use the money and what they teach people who come and donate.

Nevertheless, we are going to look at the pros and cons of zoos and explore whether or not they should be banned.

So let’s dive right into the topic!

The Pros & Cons of Zoos

Let’s first discover the pros and cons of zoos , evaluating both their positive and negative impact!

What are the Pros of Zoos?

1. zoos are protecting endangered species.

When ecological conservation emerged as a matter of public interest in the 1970s , zoos all over the world have embraced the mission of   saving endangered species   in the world. Zoos are not like the cruel animal menageries from the middle ages. They want to provide entertainment, but they are greatly concerned with the protection and conservation of animals and their natural habitats. Environmental protection is one of the biggest reasons why zoos should not be banned.

Zoos provide a protected environment for endangered animals, and also help in raising awareness and funding for wildlife initiatives and research projects. Therefore, zoos educate the public about animals and are contributing their part to the conservation of many species . In fact, should zoos be banned, many species would have gone extinct already. A good example are narwahls .

should zoos be banned? no, because they are saving endangered species

2. Zoos are educating the public about animals

Environmental education   is definitely among the pros of zoos. Many children and adults in cities can only see wild animals in TV or the internet. Zoos offer them the unique experience of contemplating real animals. They can smell them, see how they move and listen their sounds in real life. 

Visiting a zoo is a much more vivid and enriching experience than the one you can get through a screen. Thanks to zoos, kids and adults develop empathy towards animals . In addition, people don’t need to travel to exotic places to see the animals, which is beneficial to the environment. 

Ultimately, zoos provide an affordable opportunity to see (exotic) animals , giving everyone an equal chance to experience wildlife first-hand and learn about nature. No matter what a person’s socioeconomic status may be, there is a chance to learn something new because of the work of a zoo. By educating about animals, z oos are also raising awareness about our environmental problems like climate change and illustrate how these impact ecosystems worldwide.

Should zoos be banned, an important educational resource would dissapear, which might lead to less future knowledge about animals and nature.

zoos are an important educational resource

3. Zoos help in fighting animal extinction

Given that the mass destruction of wildlife habitats across the globe continues unabated and species such as elephants, big cats, birds, primates, rhinos, reptiles, and many others are at real risk of extinction, larger zoos have now stepped in with the hopes of stopping or at least  slowing the decline of these endangered species .

Zoos study  animal breeding  and thanks to them many wild animals in captivity can reproduce. Should zoos be banned, we would certainly loose some species. This is particularly important in the case of endangered species. Due to the low density of the population of some animals in their natural ecosystems they struggle to find partners. 

Some populations in the wild are weakened by endogamy too. In zoos vets and biologist help to prevent inbreeding. Fighting extinction is surely among the pros of zoos!

zoos shouldn't be banned because they are helping to fight extinction, for example of tigers

4. Zoos are conducting valuable research

Zoos are key for   research . Being able to observe and study animals is crucial if we want to contribute to help them and repair the ecosystems. They also help in reducing human-animal conflicts and in better understanding the needs and psychology of animals. Zoos serve as laboratories to learn more about how to fight animal diseases and develop effective animal anaesthetics and other treatments to help more animals in the future.

Between 1993 and 2013, 228 accredited zoos published 5,175 peer-reviewed manuscripts. In 2017, 173 accredited US zoos spent $25 million on research, studied 485 species and subspecies of animals, worked on 1,280 research projects, and published 170 research manuscripts.

Because so many diseases can be transmitted from animals to humans, such as COVID-19, ebola, hantavirus, and the bird flu, zoos frequently conduct disease surveillance research in wildlife populations and their own captive populations that can lead to a direct impact on human health.

Should zoos be banned, we might not be able to conduct such research anymore, negatively influencing our ability to find cures to diseases and tackle issues like climate change .

zoos are an important resource for research

5. Zoos provide income for many communities

Finally, the pros of zoos include their economic importance. Zoos play an important economic role , especially in the less developed areas of the world, where they are an important income source for many communities. Zoos do more than just providing a place for animals to reside. They are a place that provides jobs, creates tourism opportunities, and can even be an economic nexus for a community . 

Should zoos be banned, we would need to find other economic resources for these communities. As of 2022, there are  27,267 people  employed in the Zoos & Aquariums industry in the US only. Just imagine how many jobs they provide worldwide, especially in less developed countries.

for and against essay of zoos

What are the Cons of Zoos?

Unfortunately, the world of zoos is not as bright as you might think after reading the previous positive points above. Let’s take a closer look at the arguments why zoos should be banned!

1. Zoos entertain humans at the expense of animals

Environmental activists  insist that zoos should be banned, despite their noble intentions. They argue that zoos are inherently immoral and primarily serve to entertain humans at the expense of animals. In fact, zoos exploit animals for the sake of profit generation .

Furthermore, zoos don’t educate the public enough to justify keeping animals captive. In fact, even a study widely cited to justify the argument that zoos educate the public stated that “there was no overall change in understanding of ecological concepts seen” because visitors know a lot about ecology before going to the zoo.

On top of that, there have been cases where zoos killed baby animals, for the sake of controlling the animal population of the zoo. For example, in 2014 the Copenhagen Zoo killed a young giraffe and four lions   on the grounds of genetic purity and breeding.

We should ask ourselves whether the entertainment provided by zoos (especially by animals shows and similar activities) does really justify the price that the animals pay for.

a tiger laying unhappily on the ground of his cage in a zoo

2. Holding animals in captivity has questionable ethics

Haven’t we learned from our shameful history with “human zoos”? 100 years ago, people accepted that other humans are exhibited in “human zoos”, which everyone would protest against nowadays. Who knows how humanity will look back and judge our present animal zoos in 100 years… If we look back at the dark history of zoological institutions, zoos should be banned!

There is no doubt that zoos are questionable from an ethical point of view . Zoos are a typical form of family entertainment, but associating leisure and fun with the contemplation of animals in captivity can send the wrong signals to our children. Zoos can be construed as a  sadistic pleasure . There may be educational value in a zoo, but keeping animals in captivity offers an ethical dilemma . 

Some animals, like the average house cat, will thrive in a captive environment.  Others, like orcas, do very poorly when living in captivity. An orca in the wild may live up to 100 years in the wild, but the average age at a captive orca is less than 30 years – and it’s 17 years for a male orca. For many, this is a strong argument to ban zoos.

for and against essay of zoos

3. Zoos can be detrimental to the animals' physical health

Depending on the conditions at-hand, zoos can be detrimental to the animals’ physical health. There are still many animal welfare issues recorded everyday, and animals often have to live in poor conditions , especially in less-developed, poorer countries. And all of that even though zoos are legally required to follow the Animal Welfare Act .

In addition, most animals that are exhibited in zoos are wild exotic animals (such as tigers and lions) who naturally need lots of space and even change their habitat over time. Due to the limited space in zoos, these animals cannot move as they naturally would, which inevitably leads them to develop health issues.

Furthermore, animal cruelty in zoos   continues to be extremely common. There are continuous cases of animals   abused by visitors   and zoo workers. Many of them are reported every week in the media, however, the large majority are kept secret and those responsible are never held accountable or punished. In fact, many zoos are greenwashing themselves, by saying they have high animal welfare standards although they haven’t.

zoos should be banned ecause they are bad for animal health

4. Zoos can be detrimental to the animals' mental health

It is proven that zoo confinement is psychologically damaging to animals . Another reason why zoos should be banned. 

As illustrated in Zooicide , animals in captivity are deprived of many things that are important to them, as a result they become lonely and bored. Many of them suffer from  “zoochosis” , a psychological condition characterized by repetitive and obsessive behaviors including vomiting, excessive grooming, coprophagia and self-mutilation.

Animal behaviorists see zoo animals suffering from problems not seen in the wild, such as clinical depression in clouded leopards and gibbons, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in brown bears, and anxiety in giraffes. The animals experience these issues due to smaller enclosures, changes in diet and activities, and the introduction of things not seen in the wild, such as medical exams and people with cameras.

Even keeping domicile animals such as alpacas and llamas in a restricted or caged environment can cause huge distress to them. In fact, alpacas and llamas tend to spit more in zoos , as they are irritated more frequently there compared to when they are left alone in nature.

for and against essay of zoos

5. Lack of regulation & control in many zoos

Another issue with zoos is that there is only insufficient regulation of zoos in many countries. In fact, many zoos are free to treat their animals however they want. In some countries, animals are even considered as property instead of living organisms that need proper regulatory protection. Another reason why zoos should be banned!

Especially in countries with lax   regulations   related to zoos, animals will be treated poorly and in those countries, governments should introduce stricter regulations in order to protect these animals. Even if there is some form of regulation in place, most countries’ abilitiy to control zoos for animal welfare is very limited, meaning that zoos can basically treat animals however they want.

Putting aside these opposing views, it does remain a sad reality that the  welfare of zoo animals varies widely depending on where you are . While many zoos have been working hard to improve their animal enclosures to better fit the needs of captive animals, constraints such as limited space and funds can seriously hinder this process. Smaller, poorer zoos simply do not have the luxury of hiring well-trained zoological staff or expanding their breeding programs and facilities to maintain the ethos of conservation. A ban of these smaller, less well-funded zoos could be seen as a reasonable strategy for reducing harm to wildlife.

animal welfare is the main reason why zoos should be banned

After all, something we must consider too when talking about the pros and cons of zoos is their not-so-glamorous history!

A Brief History of Zoos

Until the early 19th century, the only purpose of zoos was to demonstrate the power of royalty and indulge their extravagant tastes. Up until this time, people paid no attention to science or animal conservation . Zoos were just used to symbolize the superiority of humans over animals .

Evidence of the existence of zoos and menageries can be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt, circa 3500 BC. Many Roman emperors kept private zoo collections. Sometimes these captive animals were used for study, but most of the time they were simply used for entertainment in the arena, which invariably ended in a cruel death.

At some point during  the history of zoos , humans even tried to emphasize the supposed inferiority of other human cultures, and implied the superiority of Western society, through so-called “human zoos” . There have been plenty of “human zoos” in many European countries, which tried to symbolize the superiority of the Western culture over the culture of their former colonies, by visualizing how primitive black people behaved. 

In fact, “human zoos” are one of Europe’s most shameful secrets. When trying to find an answer to the question: “Should zoos be banned?”, there’s no way around reminding ourselves with our history.

human zoo

The modern zoo that we know today emerged in the 19th century in the United Kingdom. It was only then that the transition was made from royal menageries designed to entertain the elite to public zoological gardens aiming to educate the wider population . 

Growing urbanization and industrialization led to heightened demand for new forms of public entertainment. This need for entertainment, as well as the requirements of scholarly research , came together in the founding of the first modern zoos. During that time nobody even thought about the question of should zoos be banned.

According to the   Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) by 2020, the USA boasts 230 accredited zoos and aquariums , accommodating nearly 800,000 animals and 6,000 species with around 1,000 of these species being on the endangered species   list. These zoos provide 200,000 jobs with an annual budget of $230 million set aside for wildlife conservation . They attract more than 200 million visitors per year, with special educational programs designed specifically for school groups.

Over the past 30 years, many established zoos have endeavored to improve the level of care for animals and rehabilitate the public perception of zoos . However, despite many good intentions and considerable financial effort, the concept of zoos is nonetheless fraught with many serious problems. 

So much so that calls to ban zoos are still loud and persistent from many activist groups even now…

But what’s the verdict now? Should zoos be banned or not? Are zoos good or bad? Let’s dive into the pros and cons of zoos.

Should Zoos be Banned?

A zoo can be an integral part of our community and world with the right approach . There are several pros and cons of zoos, and there is no definite answer to whether zoos are supporting a positive human environment interaction or not. Each point deserves consideration. If wanted, zoos can be more than entertainment and provide a positive value to both, humans and animals. 

The pros and cons of zoos often come from two very different points of view. From a legal standard, animals are often treated as property . That means they have less rights than humans, so a zoo seems like a positive place to maintain a high quality of life. For others, the forced enclosure of any animal feels like an unethical decision.

Wild animals, as it is said, are meant to be wild!

In any case, here are the best zoological institutions in California which are treating their animals at least as good as they can:

  • Best Zoos in California
  • Best Aquariums in California

Are zoos ethical? What about aquariums?

The ethics of zoos and aquariums are a subject of debate. While some argue that they play a crucial role in education, conservation, and research, others believe that keeping animals in captivity is inherently unethical and compromises their welfare and natural behaviors.

What are the pros and cons of zoos?

The pros of zoos include their contribution to endangered species conservation, public education about wildlife, research opportunities, and economic benefits for communities.

However, the cons involve concerns about animal welfare, ethical considerations, potential negative effects on animals’ physical and psychological health, and the lack of regulation in some cases.

Are zoos good or bad?

The question of whether zoos are good or bad is subjective and depends on one’s perspective. Some people see the positive aspects of zoos, such as their educational and conservation efforts, while others emphasize the negative impact on animal welfare and argue for their abolition.

Are zoos morally wrong?

The morality of zoos is a matter of personal opinion and ethical beliefs. Some individuals consider zoos morally wrong due to the captivity and potential harm inflicted on animals, while others see them as a necessary means to protect species and educate the public.

Are zoos bad or good?

The question of whether zoos are bad or good depends on your ethical stance. Whereas zoos are good for wildlife conservation, education, and research, they sometimes involve negative impacts on animal welfare and ethical concerns about keeping animals in captivity.

Are zoos safe for animals?

The safety of animals in zoos can vary widely depending on the specific zoo and its practices. While many accredited zoos prioritize animal welfare and provide appropriate care, there have been instances of poor conditions and mistreatment. The overall safety of animals in zoos depends on the commitment to high standards of care, sufficient enclosure sizes, and proper veterinary attention.

Are zoos for profit?

Zoos are typically not for profit. Though, they need to generate revenue and contribute to the local economy through visitor fees, donations, and tourism. However, the pursuit of profit should not compromise the welfare of animals. Ethical and responsible zoos prioritize animal care and conservation over profit-making, ensuring that financial resources are allocated appropriately for the well-being of the animals and their conservation efforts.

Why should zoos be banned?

There are many reasons why zoos should be banned. As outlined by PETA , Zoos should be banned due to ethical concerns about animal welfare. Keeping animals in captivity leads to physical and psychological harm. Zoos fail to replicate natural habitats, negatively impacting the well-being of the animals. Zoos provide entertainment, not education! And this entertainment comes at the cost of animal welfare.

Why should zoos not be banned?

Zoos should not be banned because they play a vital role in wildlife conservation, offering sanctuary for endangered species. They are important for educational purposes, providing firsthand wildlife experiences that foster public awareness and interest in conservation. Zoos also contribute to scientific research on animal behavior and biology, aiding in broader conservation efforts. Additionally, they support global biodiversity through breeding programs for rare and endangered species.

What are alternatives to zoos?

You can learn about animals without visiting or supporting zoos.

Here is a list of ethical alternatives to zoos:

  • Wildlife sanctuaries : They provide a natural and ethical habitat for animals, focusing on rescue and rehabilitation, thus ensuring animal welfare and mimicking their natural living conditions more closely than zoos.
  • Conservation parks : These large, protected areas conserve wildlife in their native ecosystems, promoting ethical animal treatment and natural biodiversity without the constraints of captivity. 
  • Virtual zoos : Utilizing technology, they offer an ethical and educational way to learn about animals through interactive and immersive experiences, without any impact on the animals’ natural living conditions.
  • National Parks : These are protected areas that preserve natural environments and wildlife in their native habitats. They offer an ethical alternative by allowing animals to live freely and undisturbed, promoting biodiversity and ecological balance without the need for captivity.
  • Public Parks : While primarily designed for human recreation, public parks can also serve as urban sanctuaries for local wildlife. They provide a small-scale, ethical alternative for experiencing nature and wildlife in a more controlled environment, contributing to urban biodiversity and environmental education.
  • Wildlife documentaries : They educate and raise awareness about animals and their habitats ethically, using filming techniques that minimize human interference with wildlife.

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Essay on Zoo for Students and Children

500 words essay on zoo.

The world is a huge place to see. It consists of so many living organisms that it is impossible to see each and every one of them. Especially for human beings, who are fascinated very much by animals. For the same reasons, zoos were created so that humans can interact better with animals.

Essay on Zoo

In other words, a zoo is a facility that has animals, birds, and reptiles of all kinds. They are confined to space where they are given food and medical facilities. The government has given strict guidelines to maintain a zoo. This is done keeping in mind the animal’s safety. In addition, zoos are made breeding grounds for animals to protect their species.

Benefits of Zoo

Zoos were made to bring wildlife closer to humans. It gave humans a better and up-close view of them. This allows various researchers and scientists to note the behavioral pattern of the animals. It helps them in their studies and discover new things.

In addition, zoos are a great source of entertainment for kids. They love visiting zoos and interacting with animals. This helps them learn practical knowledge about the animal. It also gives them exposure to wildlife and widens their knowledge.

Furthermore, zoos give us easy access to rare animals. Had it not been for zoos, we would have never been able to see what some animals looked like. We enjoy their behavior and it also creates awareness about the extinction of the rare species.

Similarly, zoos are a safe breeding ground for animals. They ensure the animal breeds so they never go extinct. This helps in creating a good balance. Moreover, the zoos ensure the animals get all the nutrition in their bodies to lead a healthy life. This is beneficial as the animal may not get guaranteed meals in the forests.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Disadvantages of Zoo

While the zoo is a great place for entertainment, it is also very exploitive. It takes advantage of the poor animals to make a profit off them. The zoos keep animals in very bad conditions. It takes unethical methods just to create revenue.

Furthermore, zoos are very unfair to animals. They take the animals out of their natural habitats just for the sake of human entertainment. Why would the animals be put into cages as humans want them to? They are voiceless creatures who are being forced to live in poor conditions. Imagine putting humans into cages so animals could come to see them. It sounds inhumane the other way around but not when we do the same to animals.

Most importantly, zoos do not take proper care of exotic animals. They bring them over in their facility despite knowing that they cannot survive in that climate. Some zoos do not take enough precautionary measures to keep the animals safe. This has resulted in so many deaths of animals that it seems cruel.

In short, though zoos are very helpful to humans and animals to an extent. They must be monitored constantly to ensure the animals are safe. The unethical zoos must be shut down at once to prevent any further loss of animals.

FAQs on Zoo

Q.1 List the advantages of Zoo

A.1 Zoos bring the wildlife close to humans. It helps researchers study them closely and discover new things. It protects rare species and provides a safe breeding ground for them as well.

Q.2 How are zoos harmful to animals?

A.2 Zoos are very harmful to animals. They take them out of their natural habitat for human entertainment. They make them stay in poor conditions due to which they also lose their life and get infections.

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Argumentative essay: Are you for or against zoos?

for and against essay of zoos

Writing an argumentative essay

Some people think that zoos are out-of-date and cruel institutions that should be closed down. Do you agree? Write an argumentative essay (for/against a statement)

At the moment zoos are very popular. Many people think that animals should be in zoos, although there are some arguments both for and against them.

One of the arguments for zoos is the fact they are educational because they provide visitors with lots of educational programmes. What is more, a zoo can be the only place where rare or disappearing animals could be saved.

As far as I am concerned, I am against zoos.

Firstly, it is cruel to keep animals in uncomfortable cages where they live under bad conditions.

Secondly, animals feel a lack of freedom and physical activity and they live under the lack of healthy food.

Thirdly, zoos break a natural animals lifestyle and change it upside-down. Animals which normally hunt for their food are fed, and most have to live in a climate very different from that of their natural habitat.

Moreover, animals suffer from foredoom and this can result in their aggressive behavior.

In conclusion, I’d like to say that zoos have no place in modern society, but I don’t mind safari parks because they are protecting animals, so they don’t become extinct.

Safari-Park

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I agree with your opinion but zoos can be useful, for example: the number of bisons was restored with the help of few remaining in zoos and and it is also interesting to watch the animals.

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Thank you for the interesting fact, Diana!

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  • Sample Essays

In this IELTS Zoo Essay you have to discuss whether you think zoos are cruel and should be shut down or whether they are useful as they protect some wild animals.

Essays on zoos have appeared in the IELTS test before and this was a question that was recently in the test.

Some people think that zoos are all cruel and should be closed down. Others however believe that zoos can be useful in protecting wild animals.

Discuss both opinions and give your own opinion.

Understanding the Question

You must always read the question carefully and note if there is anything restricting the topic.

You have to discuss both sides of the argument and with this zoo essay question it would be very easy to read it and then simply write about the benefits and drawbacks of zoos.

But look at this bit carefully:

  • Others however believe that zoos can be useful in protecting wild animals .

One of the arguments is specifically about protecting animals. So when you discuss the second argument you must be careful not to just write generally about the advantage of zoos. 

You have to focus on how they may protect wild animals . So when you brainstorm your ideas for the zoo essay, you should be thinking about:

  • why animals need protecting and
  • how zoos can help with this 

for and against essay of zoos

And in your other body paragraph you would need to explain why they are also seen as cruel. 

And of course you must remember to give your own opinion. In this essay, the author makes it clear at the beginning that they support the closing down of zoos. 

The opinion you decide on though is of course your choice.

Zoo Essay Sample

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own experience or knowledge.

Write at least 250 words.

Zoo Essay Model Answer

Zoos remain popular places for people to visit for entertainment and to learn about wild animals. Although some people are of the opinion that zoos can provide a sanctuary for endangered animals and so should be kept open, I believe that the cruelty that animals suffer outweighs this benefit, and that they should be shut down.

These days, animals are under threat from humans in many ways, seen for example in the way that their habitats are being destroyed through the cutting down of rain forests, or through poaching. Following on from this, the argument is that zoos can protect some of these animals that are under threat. The reason is that they are in a safe environment managed by trained staff who can ensure the animals are looked after and can produce offspring. There are examples of successes in this respect, such as with Pandas, which have been endangered for many years but have been protected.

However, there are more convincing arguments for why zoos should be shut down. Firstly, even though some species are under threat, there are lots of animals which do not fall into this category and who are there just for the entertainment of visitors. While it may be fun and educational to see them, animals are not meant to be caged, and their distress can often be seen in the way many of them pace back and forwards all day. Not only this, if the prime reason of zoos is to protect animals, this could be done in other environments such as wild life parks where the animals have more freedom.

In conclusion, animals should be protected but this does not have to be in zoos. Zoos are cruel to animals, not similar enough to their natural habitat, and they should be closed down. 

(299 Words)

Band scores are given for task response, coherence and cohesion, lexis (vocabulary) and grammatical range and accuracy. 

This zoo essay would get a good score for task response as it fully answers the question by discussing both opinions and giving a personal opinion. Ideas are also well explained, extended and supported. 

for and against essay of zoos

It would get a good score for coherence and cohesion as it is organised coherently and logically and is easy to follow. The introduction introduces the topic then there is a thesis statement.

One body paragraph discusses one side of the argument, and the other discusses the other side. The second body paragraph is also the writers opinion, and this is summarised again in the conclusion

.There is some interesting vocabulary and phrases. For example:

  • sanctuary for endangered animals
  • under threat from humans
  • habitats are being destroyed
  • produce offspring
  • successes in this respect
  • not meant to be caged
  • natural habitat

There are also some good complex grammatical constructions and the grammar is precise. For example, the red words show that some of these are  adverbial clauses ,  noun clauses  and  relative clauses :

  • Although  some people are of the opinion  that  zoos can provide a sanctuary for endangered animals...
  • ...seen for example  in the way that  their habitats are being destroyed...
  • ...the argument is  that  zoos can protect some of these animals who are under threat.
  • ...trained staff  who  can ensure the animals are looked after...
  • Pandas  who  have been endangered...
  • ... even though  some species are under threat...
  • ... While  it may be fun and educational...

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"Moral Arguments Against Zoos"

Given advancements in animal welfare science and public opinion, zoos can no longer justify holding non-human animals captive for entertainment purposes alone. It is now suggested that zoos are justifiable sites of animal captivity because they serve the dual public service of education and species conservation. This paper examines these two justifications and offers moral arguments against zoos through the lens of utilitarian, rights, and ecofeminist theories.

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Zoos Are Sometimes Necessary But Are A Poor Alternative To The Natural Environment | IELTS Essay Samples

by Manjusha Nambiar · Published December 14, 2022 · Updated August 10, 2023

Zoos are sometimes necessary but are a poor alternative to the natural environment. Discuss arguments for and against keeping animals in zoos.

Here is a band 9 IELTS essay on this topic. Need help with IELTS writing? Get your IELTS essays, letters and reports corrected by me.

Band 9 IELTS essay sample

In nearly all countries, there is a practice of keeping wild animals in zoos. Zoos serve several purposes. For example, they give visitors an opportunity to see wild animals from close quarters. They may also help to protect endangered species from extinction. Still, zoos cannot replicate the natural environment.

Some animals are on the verge of extinction. Keeping them in zoos allows us to protect them. The zoos provide a safe environment for them to live and reproduce. Several factors including human intervention put animals at risk. In a zoo, they are free from poaching. They also get fed on time and receive medical attention when they fall ill. Zoos serve an educational purpose too. Children, in particular, enjoy visiting zoos because in a zoo they can see a lot of animals up close. They enjoy it. Sometimes, animals that are not endemic to a particular region are brought from their native place and kept in zoos with the sole objective of entertaining visitors. For example, some zoos in India keep anacondas in enclosures. These reptiles are a native of the Amazon forests.

On the down side, a zoo is never a good alternative to the natural habitat of animals. In zoos wild animals are kept in captivity whereas in the natural environment they roam free. When animals are kept in tiny enclosures, they lose their vitality and natural instincts. Constant exposure to human visitors also causes much distress to these poor animals. Every living being desires freedom. Zoo animals are not different. They do not enjoy their life in captivity. Needless to say, zoo animals appear tired and distressed at all times.

Keeping animals in wild life sanctuaries and national parks is a much better alternative to keeping them in zoos. These are protected forests where hunting and poaching are not allowed. Consequently, animals are safe in them. Also, these forests provide them a natural environment. Of course, animals are not readily visible to humans in a wildlife sanctuary. That means they do not really serve the purpose of entertainment. Still, they are quite good at conservation.

To conclude, while there are some valid reasons to keep animals in zoos, they are never a healthy alternative to the natural habitat. Zoos protect animals from extinction, but zoo animals are not happy or content.

Zoos are sometimes necessary but are a poor alternative to the natural environment – Band 7 IELTS essay sample

All over the world, it is a common practice to keep wild animals in zoos. According to some people, zoos cannot become a natural habitat for animals. This essay will discuss the benefits and downsides / merits and demerits of keeping animals in zoos.

To begin with, zoos offer several benefits to these creatures. In this modern world, there are numerous animals that are on the verge of extinction. Zoos protect those endangered species which otherwise will go extinct from our world. Many animals have already become extict because of the loss of their natural habitat. Many more are on the endangered species. By providing a safe breeding place for these animals, zoos prevent them from becoming extinct. Zoos also provide people an opportunity to learn about animals and their behavior. Without zoos people will not be able to see many wild animals at all.

On the other hand, many people assert that zoos are not a perfect replacement of animal habitats and this is true. In these zoos, we keep these creatures is cramped spaces which curtail their freedom. They cannot even walk freely. On top of this, zoos are badly impacting their natural instincts like hunting, mating and protecting themselves from their predators. Besides this, visitors often tease these animals and cause them much distress.

To conclude, zoos do protect endangered animals from extinction by offering them a safe place to live and reproduce; however, they can never be a replacement of the natural habitats because in zoos animals are kept in captivity and forced to live in poor conditions.

Do you have an essay on this topic? Submit it below in the comments for a free band score estimate. Follow me on Instagram for IELTS practice tips.

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for and against essay of zoos

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Supreme Betrayal

A requiem for Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment

Collage showing pictures of Trump, Norma Anderson, and the Supreme Court building

Listen to this article

Produced by ElevenLabs and News Over Audio (NOA) using AI narration.

The Supreme Court of the United States did a grave disservice to both the Constitution and the nation in Trump v. Anderson .

In a stunning disfigurement of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court impressed upon it an ahistorical misinterpretation that defies both its plain text and its original meaning. Despite disagreement within the Court that led to a 5–4 split among the justices over momentous but tangential issues that it had no need to reach in order to resolve the controversy before it, the Court was disappointingly unanimous in permitting oath-breaking insurrectionists, including former President Donald Trump, to return to power. In doing so, all nine justices denied “We the People” the very power that those who wrote and ratified the Fourteenth Amendment presciently secured to us to save the republic from future insurrectionists—reflecting a lesson hard-learned from the devastation wrought by the Civil War.

Quinta Jurecic: The Supreme Court is not up to the challenge

For a century and a half before the Court’s decision, Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment was the Constitution’s safety net for America’s democracy, promising to automatically disqualify from public office all oath-breaking insurrectionists against the Constitution, deeming them too dangerous to entrust with power unless supermajorities of both houses of Congress formally remove their disability. This provision has been mistakenly described by some as “undemocratic” because it limits who may be elected to particular positions of power. But disqualification is not what is antidemocratic; rather, it is the insurrection that is antidemocratic, as the Constitution emphatically tells us.

In any event, all qualifications for office set by the Constitution limit who may be elected to particular positions of power. And no other of these disqualifications requires congressional legislation to become operative, as the Court now insists this one does. To be sure, the other qualifications—age, residence, natural-born citizenship—appear outside the Fourteenth Amendment, whose fifth section specifically makes congressional action to enforce its provisions available. But no such action is needed to enforce the rights secured to individuals by Section 1 of the same amendment, so deeming congressional action necessary to enforce Section 3 creates a constitutional anomaly in this case that the majority could not and did not explain. For that matter, no other provision of the other two Reconstruction amendments requires congressional enforcement either. As the concurring justices explained, the majority “simply [created] a special rule for the insurrection disability in Section 3.”

That the disqualification clause has not previously been invoked to keep traitors against the Constitution from having a second opportunity to fracture the framework of our republic reflects not its declining relevance but its success at deterring the most dangerous assaults on our government until now. Put simply, far from what some irresponsibly dismiss as an “obscure, almost discarded provision” of our legal and political system, this section of our Constitution has long been among its mightiest pillars, one that the Supreme Court itself has now all but destroyed.

What ought to have been, as a matter of the Constitution’s design and purpose, the climax of the struggle for the survival of America’s democracy and the rule of law instead turned out to be its nadir, delivered by a Court unwilling to perform its duty to interpret the Constitution as written. Desperate to assuage the growing sense that it is but a political instrument, the Court instead cemented that image into history. It did so at what could be the most perilous constitutional and political moment in our country’s history, when the nation and the Constitution needed the Court most—to adjudicate not the politics of law, but the law of the politics that is poisoning the lifeblood of America.

The issues before the Court were not difficult ones under the Constitution. As Chief Justice John Marshall once wrote of a considerably more challenging question, that of the Court’s own role in reviewing the constitutionality of government decisions, this was indeed “a question deeply interesting to the United States; but, happily, not of an intricacy proportional to its interest.” As the extraordinary array of amicus briefs filed in Trump v. Anderson made clear, the voluminous historical scholarship exploring the origins of the disqualification clause and its intended operation left no genuine doubt that the Colorado Supreme Court got it exactly right in its decision explaining why the former president was ineligible to “hold any office, civil or military, under the United States,” certainly including the presidency.

Perhaps some of the justices were untroubled by the consequences of disregarding both that scholarship and the plain language of the disqualification clause. Joining fully in the Court’s anonymous per curiam opinion that states cannot enforce the clause against federal (as opposed to state) officeholders and candidates would presumably have caused those justices no personal discomfort—apart, perhaps, from that of being seen as trying to square the ruling with their ostensible fidelity to textualism and their supposed belief in the binding force of original meaning.

Adam Serwer: The Supreme Court reveals once again the fraud of originalism

For Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson—who wrote a separate concurrence that in parts read more like a dissent—we can only surmise that any discomfort they felt was outweighed by the extra-constitutional allure of going along with the other justices on the decision’s bottom line and thus enabling the nation’s electorate to work its will, rather than the Constitution’s. Those three justices took the opportunity to distance themselves from at least part of what the Court’s majority did by criticizing its “attempts to insulate all alleged insurrectionists from future challenges to their holding federal office.” Sotomayor, Kagan, and Jackson convincingly dispatched as “inadequately supported as they are gratuitous” the majority’s unnecessary holdings that only Congress can enforce the disqualification clause and that Congress’s implementing legislation must satisfy the majority’s made-up insistence upon “congruence and proportionality.” Those three justices left in tatters much that all the other justices, with the exception of Amy Coney Barrett, wrote about the operation of the disqualification clause against federal officeholders, making plain that the majority’s “musings” simply cannot be reconciled with the Fourteenth Amendment’s language, structure, and history.

For her part, Justice Barrett lectured the country about the “message Americans should take home” from the decision, criticizing the majority for needlessly addressing “the complicated question whether federal legislation is the exclusive vehicle through which Section 3 can be enforced,” while simultaneously criticizing her three separately concurring colleagues for supposedly amplifying “disagreement with stridency,” despite the absence of a single strident word in their clarion warning.

What, then, accounted for the unanimous outcome in this case? All nine justices were persuaded by the appeal of a fatuous argument featured prominently in the briefs supporting the former president—the argument that no single state should be able to disqualify a candidate for the presidency.

But that argument, despite its prominence in many public discussions of this decision, was always utterly empty of constitutional substance. Anyone who knows anything about the United States Constitution and the way the judicial system operates—and that surely includes all nine Supreme Court justices—has to know that a single state could never have rendered a disqualification ruling that would bind the other 49 states, an admittedly untenable result. Here’s how Jason Murray, a counsel for the challengers, put the constitutional answer to that argument when he was pressed on this very question by Justice Kagan:

Ultimately, it’s this Court that’s going to decide that question of federal constitutional eligibility and settle the issue for the nation. And, certainly, it’s not unusual that questions of national importance come up through different states.

Although no justice mentioned this response, nobody should doubt that a state court’s determination of a federal constitutional question—such as Colorado’s that the former president had “engaged in an insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S. Constitution—is subject to review by the Supreme Court. If the Court upholds the state’s disqualification decision, then it will be binding nationwide, in the manner and to the extent decided by the Court. If the state’s disqualification is held to be invalid, then it will be invalid in that state, as well as nationwide. It’s as simple as that.

Nothing about letting an individual state initiate the disqualification process ever threatened to create what the unanimous Court called a “patchwork” of divergent state resolutions of the controlling federal questions of what constitutes a disqualifying “insurrection” and whether the former president had “engaged” in one. From the outset, the hand-wringing about how no state should be empowered to rule over its sister states on the national question as to who might run for president was all smoke and mirrors, manifestly predicated on a demonstrably false premise about the way our judicial system works.

So it’s little surprise that, built on that false premise, the opinion that emerged from the Court’s constitutional confusion was a muddled, nameless per curiam decree palpably contrary to the text, history, and purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment.

For no apparent reason other than to create the impression that it was leaving open the possibility that the former president might yet be disqualified pursuant to congressional legislation, the per curiam opinion went out of its way to mention that Congress, in legislation whose enactment predated Section 3, had indeed “effectively provided an additional procedure for enforcing disqualification” by making “engaging in insurrection or rebellion … a federal crime punishable by disqualification from holding office under the United States”; the opinion also noted that a “successor” to that legislation “remains on the books today.”

Many will no doubt catch the transparent implication that, if the former president or other future insurrectionists permanently escape disqualification, that result will be attributable to whoever controls the Justice Department at any given time, not to any action by the Court. But that intended implication overlooks the point that, were that statute all that mattered, a simple majority of Congress could remove the disqualification penalty from that criminal statute, leaving Section 3 unenforceable again. It also conveniently ignores the fact—not denied even by this majority—that Section 3 was specifically intended and written to make criminal conviction unnecessary for disqualifying an insurrectionist from seeking or holding office in the future.

There is, of course, no possibility whatsoever that the statute, 18 U.S. Code § 2383, will play any role in the former president’s eligibility in this election cycle. And the difficulty of enacting legislation of the sort the majority declared essential makes it exceedingly unlikely that anyone who engages in an insurrection against the U.S. Constitution after taking an oath as an officer to support it will ever be disqualified under the Fourteenth Amendment. Thus, as concurring Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Jackson damningly noted, the majority’s gratuitous resolution of “novel constitutional questions” about how Section 3 could be enforced in the future was plainly intended “to insulate this Court and [Trump] from future controversy” while insulating “all alleged insurrectionists from future challenges to their holding federal office.”

George T. Conway III: The Court’s Colorado decision wasn’t about the law

The five-justice majority came to its constitutionally unsupported view that states can disqualify insurrectionists from state, but not federal, office by pronouncing incongruous a conclusion that would find—nestled within a constitutional amendment that generally expanded “‘federal power at the expense of state autonomy’”—anything that would “give States new powers to determine who may hold the Presidency” or indeed any other federal office.

But, as many amicus briefs conclusively demonstrated, the Court’s description of how the Fourteenth Amendment altered the intricate relationship of state and federal powers was an absurdly oversimplified and ahistorical caricature. Among the Court’s most basic errors was that it described this state action to enforce Section 3 as a “new power” requiring an affirmative “delegation”—an explicit assignment of authority—elsewhere in the Constitution. If the Court had to identify such a delegation, which it did not, it need have looked no further than the elections and electors clauses of Articles I and II, respectively, which indisputably assign the determination of presidential qualification and disqualification to the states, at least in the first instance. Instead, the Court dismissed that constitutional assignment out of hand by asserting, with no explanation, that “there is little reason to think that these Clauses implicitly authorize the States to enforce Section 3 against federal officeholders and candidates.” Of course, no explanation could have sufficed, which is why none was offered. Under the Constitution, there is every reason to believe that these clauses in fact do authorize the states to enforce Section 3 against federal officeholders and candidates.

In the end, without even trying to address the compelling analysis of the three-justice concurrence, the majority violated the precept rightly insisted on by Chief Justice John Roberts in objecting to how far the Court had gone in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization two years earlier, which stated that, when “it is not necessary to decide more to dispose of a case, then it is necessary not to decide more.” The three justices—objecting that the Court had departed from that “vital principle” by “deciding not just this case, but challenges that might arise in the future”—quoted Justice Stephen Breyer’s dissent in Bush v. Gore : “What it does today, the Court should have left undone.” “In a sensitive case crying out for judicial restraint,” the concurring justices wrote , the majority simply “abandoned” all restraint.

But whatever praise the three justices deserve for distancing themselves from the majority’s extraordinary overreach, they cannot be excused for joining the majority in holding—wrongly, in light of the Supreme Court’s obvious power and responsibility to ensure uniformity—that the Court’s decision to disempower Colorado from playing its part in the ultimate determination was somehow necessary to prevent the emergence of “a chaotic state-by-state patchwork, at odds with our Nation’s federalism principles.” By insisting that states have no role to play in initiating the disqualification of insurrectionists from federal office even with the Supreme Court sitting to review what each state does so as to ensure nationwide consistency, all nine justices stood federalism on its head.

Whether born of a steeled determination not to disqualify the presumptive Republican nominee from the presidency, or of a debilitating fear of even deciding whether the Constitution disqualifies the presumptive Republican nominee precisely because he is the presumptive Republican nominee, this step that all nine justices took represents a constitutionally unforgivable departure from the fundamental truth of our republic that “no man is above the law.”

Nor can their action be explained, much less justified, by the converse truth that neither is any man beneath the law. If the process Colorado had followed to determine Trump’s disqualification could have been deemed constitutionally inadequate as a foundation for the Supreme Court to have affirmed the ruling of the state’s highest court and applied it to him nationwide, this would be a different case altogether. But nothing any of the justices said even hinted at such inadequacy. On the contrary, the week-long trial by the Colorado state court, which had indisputable jurisdiction to consider the matter, undoubtedly more than satisfied the constitutional requirements for disqualifying the former president under Section 3. At that trial, he was afforded every opportunity to defend himself against the charge that he had personally “engaged” in an “insurrection or rebellion” against the Constitution. Not a single justice suggested that the process was less than what the former president was due. That trial ended in a finding by “clear and convincing evidence” that he had not only engaged in that insurrection but had orchestrated the entire months-long effort to obstruct the joint session’s official proceeding, preventing the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in American history. Not a single justice suggested that a more stringent standard of proof was required or that the courts below applied an insufficiently rigorous definition of insurrection . No justice suggested that the First Amendment or anything else in the Constitution shielded the former president from the reach of Section 3.

Mark A. Graber: Of course presidents are officers of the United States

Nor did any justice offer any other reason to doubt the correctness of the conclusion by both courts below that the former president’s conduct was indeed the paradigm of an insurrection or a rebellion against the Constitution, disqualifying him from the presidency ever again. Nor, finally, is it easy to imagine a more thoroughgoing misinterpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment and scrambling of the division of responsibilities that the amendment carefully assigns. In supposedly following the blueprint of the amendment, which specifically provides a method for oath-breaking insurrectionists to be exempted from Section 3’s disqualification by joint action on the part of two-thirds of both houses of Congress, the Court’s majority decreed that mere inaction by Congress would suffice to lift that disqualification. Thus, by effectively flipping on its head the congressional power to remove disqualification, the Court seized for itself the role that the Fourteenth Amendment expressly and deliberately left to Congress—that of deciding whether a particular oath-breaking insurrectionist poses too little danger to the republic to be permanently barred from holding or seeking public office.

Far from preventing what it sought to depict as state usurpation of a federal responsibility, the Supreme Court itself usurped a congressional responsibility, and it did so in the name of protecting a congressional prerogative, that of enacting enforcement legislation under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Our highest court dramatically and dangerously betrayed its obligation to enforce what once was the Constitution’s safety net for America’s democracy. The Supreme Court has now rendered that safety net a dead letter, effectively rescinding it as if it had never been enacted.

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  3. 💄 Arguments for and against zoos essay. "Moral Arguments Against Zoos

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  4. Arguments For and Against Zoos By Doris Lin Zoos argue that they

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  5. 016 Essay Example Pros And Cons Of Zoos Are Cruel To Wild ~ Thatsnotus

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  6. Arguments For and Against Zoos

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COMMENTS

  1. Are Zoos Ethical? Arguments for and Against Zoos

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    Zoos should be banned: a for and against essay Throughout the past few years, many people have been debating on whether zoos are actually relevant in this day and age. Undeniably, since they still exist, it means that the cons of banning them overweigh.

  3. My Opinion and Discussion of The Reasons for and Against Zoos

    A Good Hook Examples for Essay about Zoos. A Thought-Provoking Quote: Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." As I explore the controversial topic of zoos, I can't help but wonder if these institutions align with our dreams for a compassionate and ethical future.

  4. Opinion

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    Write a for and against, about 120-150 words. Some people think that zoos are an excellent place to learn about the animal kingdom, but others, on the contrary, believe that zoos should be banned. Discuss their advantages and disadvantages. Every year more and more people visit zoos around the world. It is a good way to know different kinds of ...

  7. Pros and cons of zoos: Should animals be kept in zoos?

    Pros and cons of zoos. These are the most common arguments in favor and against zoos. Pros of zoos. After the famous wildlife conservationist Geral Durrell opened a zoo in Jersey in 1959, zoos all over the world have embraced the mission of saving endangered species in the world. Zoos are not like the exotic animal menageries from the middle ages.

  8. Are Zoos Good or Bad for Animals? The Argument, Explained

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  9. Are Zoos Immoral?

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    Zoos are detrimental to animals' physical health. Zoo confinement is psychologically damaging to animals. This article was published on August 13, 2021, at Britannica's ProCon.org, a nonpartisan issue-information source. Some support the existence of zoos, claiming the institutions educate the public about conservation efforts while producing ...

  11. Zoos

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  12. Should zoos be banned?

    The shooting of Harambe the gorilla spawned the most-shared meme of 2016 and caused a hounded Cincinnati Zoo to suspend its social media accounts. When it comes to lethal force and animal welfare, at least, public opinion swiftly sides against zoos. But whether recent events have triggered a profound shift in public consciousness is harder to ...

  13. The Ethics and Controversies of Zoos: [Essay Example], 824 words

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  14. Is Keeping Wild Animals In Zoos Unethical?: Arguments For And Against

    Arguments Against Zoos . Today most zoos have become recreation facilities where people can go and view animals for entertainment and amusement. Taking an animal from its natural habitat for the sole reason of human entertainment raises several moral and ethical issues. Most experts agree that the pleasure we take from viewing animals is not a ...

  15. Should Zoos be Banned? Pros & Cons of Zoos

    In fact, should zoos be banned, many species would have gone extinct already. A good example are narwahls. 2. Zoos are educating the public about animals. Environmental education is definitely among the pros of zoos. Many children and adults in cities can only see wild animals in TV or the internet.

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    In short, though zoos are very helpful to humans and animals to an extent. They must be monitored constantly to ensure the animals are safe. The unethical zoos must be shut down at once to prevent any further loss of animals. FAQs on Zoo. Q.1 List the advantages of Zoo. A.1 Zoos bring the wildlife close to humans. It helps researchers study ...

  17. Argumentative essay: Are you for or against zoos?

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  18. Should Animals be kept in Zoos?

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  19. IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample Answer Essay: Zoos and Rare Animals

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  20. Zoo Essay: Are zoos cruel or do they protect animals?

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  22. "Moral Arguments Against Zoos"

    It is now suggested that zoos are justifiable sites of animal captivity because they serve the dual public service of education and species conservation. This paper examines these two justifications and offers moral arguments against zoos through the lens of utilitarian, rights, and ecofeminist theories. Status of Research. Completed/published.

  23. Zoos Are Sometimes Necessary But Are A Poor Alternative To The Natural

    Zoos protect animals from extinction, but zoo animals are not happy or content. Zoos are sometimes necessary but are a poor alternative to the natural environment - Band 7 IELTS essay sample. All over the world, it is a common practice to keep wild animals in zoos. According to some people, zoos cannot become a natural habitat for animals.

  24. Arguments for and Against Keeping Animals in Zoos

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  25. Argumentative essay for and/or against keeping animals in zoos

    Bonuses and Discounts. give up to 20% off. Place an Order. It is known that there are zoos where workers treat animals very cruelly. Fortunately, day by day all the zoos become more and more improved and it wouldn't be fair to close all the zoos because of the mistakes of some of them. But no matter how good the conditions of the place where ...

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  27. Against Zoos Essay

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  28. The Supreme Court's Supreme Betrayal

    For a century and a half before the Court's decision, Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment was the Constitution's safety net for America's democracy, promising to automatically disqualify ...

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