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Why Zoos Should be Banned? Essay

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Most of you here have been to zoos before, whether as a fun family trip or with your school as an educational experience, but have you ever considered how the animals you stare at for a minute or so before moving on are treated? Have you ever thought about how constrained they are, stuck in an enclosure with space a hundred times smaller than they would have in the wild?

In fact, how would you feel if you were trapped in a tiny enclosure for your entire life? How would you feel if your every move was watched by hundreds of people each day? If your main purpose in life was to provide entertainment for humans?

Zoos try to justify the captivity of animals by claiming that it is for conservation purposes. Yet the main reason why so many animals are in danger of becoming extinct is due to the direct actions of humans. For example, the cruel killing of elephants to make ivory from their tusks. Or the destruction of many natural habitats due to deforestation. So, I ask you this, how can it be considered admirable for zoos to save these vulnerable creatures under the guise of conservation when the only reason that they are endangered is because of humans? Instead of breeding animals unsuccessfully, shouldn't we concentrate on preserving their natural habitats and stopping the poaching of animals so they will not be in danger and need our so-called charitable help in the first place? In fact, the populations of different endangered species may even become less genetically diverse due to the removal of individuals from the wild, causing them to become even more endangered. The removal of wild animals from their natural habitats, where belong, can also lead to them to suffering from severe stress, depression, anxiety and boredom as animals do not know how to cope with living in places where they absolutely do now belong.

Also, did you know that, in reality, a large majority of the captive animals are not considered endangered globally? Only 5% of European zoo animals are critically endangered. So why is it that zoos contain so many caged animals?

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Many zoos house a small family of meerkats and some even offer special experiences to meet them at a certain cost. Yet meerkats are not even endangered so this breeding is purely for profiting zoos and to provide a fleeting moment of entertainment for visitors.

Of the endangered animals that zoos do manage to breed, most are just charismatic megafauna, which are large animal species with a widespread popular appeal such as majestic Bengal tigers and loveable giant pandas, and they are bred to attract even more visitors. In reality, most zoo bred animals cannot be rehabilitated into the wild, as they have been institutionalised by people and now lack their fundamental basics of surviving in the wild, such as their necessary skill of hunting for food. Successful breeding programs also produce what zoos deem as surplus animals animals that have completed the purpose of their genetic contribution to a managed population and are no longer needed. Many of these healthy surplus animals are deliberately killed. Baby lion cubs at Longleat Safari Park were killed after the zoo let the inbreeding get out of control. The zoo confessed that they intently bred too many cubs to make sure that there were always endearing little cubs on display as they attracted many visitors. This is just one example of how far zoos would go to ensure that visitors feel entertained by their animals, and they do so under the excuse of preservation.

Zoos want us to believe that one of their main functions is educating us about animals. But we have to ask: where is the evidence of this? For decades, they have argued that seeing animals live, can help to educate us about the importance of conservation, as well as the natural habitats and behaviours of animals. But is seeing dolphins do remarkable feats, such as jumping through hoops high in the air, really educating us about their natural behaviours? Dolphins don't tend to jump through hoops in the wild, you know.

It also appears that unguided zoo visits result in improved biodiversity knowledge in only one-third of visitors. Professional zoo educators can have better results in increasing the knowledge of biodiversity when working in schools rather than within an actual zoo. Zoos also paint an overly simplistic view of biodiversity and ecosystems by mainly promoting all the well-known exotic animals, which are more often than not at the top of their food chain.

Moreover, most people go to zoos for a fun day out, while only some focus on being educated on the importance of biodiversity. However, if you truly want to learn more about wildlife, why not watch a documentary? There are many educational and interesting wildlife documentaries that are so much more informative than going to a zoo, for example, David Attenborough's work. These documentaries have also probably provided more information for animal research than what is carried out in zoos given that they learn of the natural behaviours of wildlife by following wild animals around in their natural habitat.

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