“Life is a zoo in a jungle.”

Peter De Vries, Novelist

Pros and Cons of Zoos

advantages and disadvantages of zoos

Zoos are quite popular in many countries all over the world. Especially if you have children, it can be quite nice to go to the zoo and to see many different animals.

While there are many important advantages of zoos, the presence of zoos also implies some problems. In this article, the pros and cons of zoos are discussed.

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Advantages of Zoos

  1. We can see many different animals
  2. Zoos can raise awareness on our environmental problems
  3. Important to protect endangered species from extinction
  4. Zoos provide opportunities for nice family trips
  5. You can see exotic animals without the need for traveling
  6. Going to the zoo is sort of a short vacation for many people
  7. Going to the zoo is often quite affordable
  8. People may behave eco-friendlier after going to the zoo
  9. Zoos are quite popular
  10. Can be important for researchers
  11. Important income source for many local communities all around the world
  12. Global cooperation is encouraged
  13. May protect animals from poaching
  14. Nice destination for school excursions
  15. Multiple types of zoos

We can see many different animals

One important advantage of zoos is that they enable us to see many different animals in one place. In fact, many big zoos have hundreds or even thousands of different animal species and even if you search for rather exotic species that would never be present in your local area, chances are that you will find those species in zoos.

Thus, if you are an animal lover and want to see as many animals as possible in a rather short period of time, chances are that zoos will be quite helpful for you.

Zoos can raise awareness on our environmental problems

Zoos not only give us the opportunity to see many different animals, they are also important from an educational perspective. In fact, many people who live in big cities often lost their connection to nature. In fact, those people often work in demanding office jobs for long hours and don’t spend time in nature anymore.

Especially for those people, it can be quite important to go to the zoo and to see all those animals in order to remember how important protecting our environment really is. Thus, zoos can also be quite important to raise awareness of our global environmental problems in order to protect our animals as best as possible.

Important to protect endangered species from extinction

Zoos can also play a crucial role to protect many animals from endangerment or even from extinction. In fact, due to habitat destruction and many other environmental problems, many species have become endangered over the past decades.

If we want to save those species from extinction, we have to let them breed in safe environments like in zoos in order to protect them from other predator species.

In turn, chances may increase that we can protect many animal species from extinction.

Zoos provide opportunities for nice family trips

Especially if you have children, going to the zoo can also be a quite nice family activity. In fact, many small children love going to the zoo and to see the different animals.

This is not only true for children, but also for many adults. In fact, many of us stay children deep inside and we may also remember many nice childhood memories.

Thus, going to the zoo can give you a great time and can be a nice way to unplug from your stressful daily life.

You can see exotic animals without the need for traveling

Zoos also give us a unique opportunity to see many different exotic animals without the need to travel to many exotic countries. This can not only save you plenty of money but also significant amounts of time.

Hence, if you just want to see many animals but don’t want to travel to other countries due to various reasons, zoos can also provide you with a great opportunity in this regard.

Going to the zoo is sort of a short vacation for many people

Many people also go to the zoo in order to relax and to see something completely different compared to their normal daily life. In fact, especially people who work in demanding jobs for quite long hours every day often need time for themselves in order to reload their batteries.

Consequently, going to the zoo can be a great way to spend your time in a completely different environment, which can also be helpful if you are currently rather bored with your daily life.

Going to the zoo is often quite affordable

The entrance fee for zoos is often also rather low in many countries of our planet. This is due to the fact that many zoos are subsidized by the government in order to give as many people access to zoos as possible.

Hence, also if you are on a budget and cannot afford to spend too much money on your leisure activities, zoos can provide you a great opportunity to spend your whole day without having to spend excessive amounts of money on it.

People may behave eco-friendlier after going to the zoo

Another benefit of zoos is that people may also behave eco-friendlier after they went to the zoo. In fact, many people only realize how important it really is to behave environmentally-friendly once they see all those fascinating animals.

Thus, by going to the zoo, people may be more eager to take additional efforts in their daily lives to behave as eco-friendly as possible, which is crucial to protect our animal and plant species from extinction and also to solve various other environmental problems.

Zoos are quite popular

Zoos are also quite popular in many countries all over the world. Hence, you don’t have to worry to go to the zoo from a social perspective since zoos are socially accepted in most countries of our planet.

Can be important for researchers

Zoos can also play a crucial role when it comes to research opportunities. In fact, some zoos offer a home for some quite exotic species that are barely existent in the wild anymore. Hence, especially for rare species, zoos can be quite important for researchers since they are often the only place where scientists can explore those rare species.

Research on this species is quite important since only if we get to know more about them, we will be able to protect those species from extinction in the long run.

Important income source for many local communities all around the world

Zoos are not only important to protect endangered animals from extinction, they are also important from a financial perspective for many local communities all around the world. Especially in poor developing countries, many regions rely on zoos to make additional income in order to improve the living conditions of the general public.

This is not only due to the entrance fees for zoos, but also due to the fact that tourists will sleep in hotels and eat out in restaurants, which further generates significant income for the local population. Consequently, zoos can also be an important income source for many people in poor parts of our planet.

Global cooperation is encouraged

Many zoos all over the world also work together and have cooperation agreements. This could mean that they ship animals from one zoo to another in case it makes sense.

It also means that those zoos often work together on research projects and share their latest insights regarding how to keep animals in zoos as naturally as possible.

Hence, zoos can also encourage global cooperation, which can benefit all parties in the long run.

May protect animals from poaching

Another significant upside of zoos is that they can protect animals from poaching. In fact, many animals in the wild lose their lives every year due to poaching since people want to sell the horns or other valuable parts of those animals for quite high prices.

However, through poaching, many animals have become endangered and may even become extinct in the near future. Thus, it is crucial that we protect those animals from poachers in order to assure a viable future for them.

Nice destination for school excursions

Zoos can also be a great destination for field trips. In fact, many children love to go to the zoo and it can also be a great location for school excursions since going to the zoo is rather risk-free and teachers may not have to worry too much due to that. Hence, also if you currently try to figure out what to do for your next field trip, going to the zoo may also be quite nice in this regard.

Moreover, you can also educate children about the importance of behaving eco-friendly, which is crucial to assure a livable future for them and for the next generations.

Multiple types of zoos

Another nice thing about zoos is that they are often quite different. In fact, the overall setting and also the visual appearance greatly differs across zoos and in case you get bored by your favorite zoo, you may just try another zoo.

Disadvantages of Zoos

  1. Animals are trapped in unnatural environments
  2. Conditions in zoos are often rather poor
  3. Animals often only have quite limited space
  4. Some zoos only exist for profit-maximization purposes
  5. Mental problems of animals in zoos are quite common
  6. Animals may not breed in zoos in a sufficient manner
  7. May alter the behavior of animals
  8. Opponents of zoos claim that they are cruel
  9. Staff members may only have insufficient knowledge
  10. Some zoos rely on donations and government support
  11. Zoos may also be problematic from an ethical perspective
  12. Lack of regulation of zoos in many countries
  13. Often not possible to return animals to the wild
  14. Some zoos are quite crowded
  15. Opponents claim that zoos are just for human amusement
  16. Shorter life expectancy of animals in zoos
  17. Some wild animals have to be caught to bring them to the zoo

Animals are trapped in unnatural environments

While there are many advantages of zoos, opponents of zoos often claim that zoos only offer unnatural environments for animals. Moreover, those animals may often feel trapped since they have to stay in their cages and cannot navigate as they would do in the wild.

Conditions in zoos are often rather poor

Another disadvantage of zoos is that they often only offer quite poor living conditions for animals. In fact, many animals are kept in an unnatural manner and also don’t get sufficient other animals from their species. In turn, chances are that those zoo animals are much unhappier compared to animals of the same species who live in the wild.

Animals often only have quite limited space

Another problem of zoos is that animals often only have rather limited space to move. In fact, while animals will have almost unlimited space in the wild, they are often caged in rather confined areas in zoos.

This is due to the fact that many zoos want to keep as many animals as possible to show them to the general public. However, this also implies that each animal will only have a rather limited space to live.

Some zoos only exist for profit-maximization purposes

While many zoos aim to protect our endangered animal species from extinction, some zoos just exist for the sole purpose of profit maximization. In fact, especially in regions with weak economies, people often rely on income from zoos to make a living.

However, while those zoos may help to make some money for people in those regions, the conditions in those zoos are often rather poor since the goal is profit maximization and not to offer animals the best living conditions possible.

Mental problems of animals in zoos are quite common

In fact, due to quite poor living conditions, many animals in zoos develop serious mental issues over time. This is quite logical since every living organism needs suitable living conditions to feel good and to increase its population in the long run. The same is even true for us humans. If we have to live under unnatural conditions, we also develop mental issues and the same is true for animals of many sorts.

Thus, in order to protect those animals from mental issues as best as possible, zoos should try to improve the overall living conditions of those animals and provide them with sufficient space so that those animals can live as naturally as possible.

Animals may not breed in zoos in a sufficient manner

Due to the unnatural living conditions of zoos, animals are also less likely to breed in zoos and therefore, the population of those animals may decline rather than increase in the long run.

Consequently, zoos may not protect our animal species from extinction at all, especially if those animals are kept under rather poor conditions and are therefore not willing to reproduce in a sufficient manner.

May alter the behavior of animals

In general, if animals are kept under unnatural living conditions, their behavior will change in the long run. Hence, it is quite likely that animals in zoos will develop changes in behavior over time and some of those animals may also become quite unpredictable and dangerous for animal attendants in zoos.

Opponents of zoos claim that they are cruel

Since the overall living conditions for animals are often quite poor in zoos, opponents of zoos also often claim that most zoos are cruel and should be closed. In fact, in many countries of our planet, zoo animals don’t have sufficient space to move and cannot satisfy their basic needs, which can indeed be considered as rather cruel.

Staff members may only have insufficient knowledge

Another problem with zoos is that staff members in zoos often don’t have the required knowledge to take care of the different animals in a proper manner. In fact, every animal is different and needs individual treatment.

However, if staff members don’t have proper qualifications, chances are that some animals are treated quite poorly and many of them may also suffer from serious neglect over time.

Some zoos rely on donations and government support

While some zoos are quite profitable and make good money, other zoos rely on donations and government subsidies in order to survive. However, many people claim that taxpayers’ money that is spent on zoos could be much better spent on other important infrastructure projects.

Zoos may also be problematic from an ethical perspective

In general, opponents of zoos also often claim that zoos are also problematic from an ethical perspective. In fact, due to the poor overall living conditions and the unnatural treatment of animals in many zoos around the world, zoos may indeed be rather questionable from an ethical standpoint.

Lack of regulation of zoos in many countries

Another issue with zoos is that there is often also only insufficient regulation of zoos in many countries of our planet. In fact, many zoos are rather free regarding how they want to treat their animals and in some countries, animals are even just considered as property instead of living organisms that need proper regulatory protection.

Thus, especially in countries with lax regulations related to zoos, animals will often be treated quite poorly and in those countries, governments should introduce stricter regulations in order to protect these animals.

Often not possible to return animals to the wild

Another significant downside of zoos is that animals can often not be returned to the wild after they had been kept in captivity. In fact, animals often unlearn how to take care of themselves in zoos since they learn to rely on zookeepers to provide them with food and with all other things they need.

In turn, those animals will lose part of their natural instincts and will no longer be able to survive in the wild due to that. Thus, zoos are also often not able to increase the populations of animals in the wild.

Some zoos are quite crowded

While going to the zoo can be a great way to spend your time, zoos are often also quite popular and crowded and if you want to spend your time in a more relaxed manner, you may want to spend your leisure on other activities or attend rather unpopular zoos instead of crowded ones.

Opponents claim that zoos are just for human amusement

Opponents of zoos often claim that zoos are just in place for human amusement. In fact, similar to circuses, animals are often treated quite poorly in zoos and have to comply with the rules of zookeepers.

In many zoos, there are also some animal shows and it may be indeed questionable whether treating animals in these ways can be justifiable.

Shorter life expectancy of animals in zoos

Many animals in zoos also have a significantly lower life expectancy compared to animals who live in the wild. This is due to the unnatural living conditions in zoos and also due to the fact that animals often get tired of their lives in zoos.

In fact, psyche plays a major role for the life expectancy of many animals and if those animals get tired of their lives in zoos, chances are that their overall life expectancy drops as well.

Some wild animals have to be caught to bring them to the zoo

From time to time, wild animals have to be caught and sent to zoos in order to sustain the populations of animals in zoos. However, especially for those wild animals that know how life in the wild feels like, it can be quite hard to get trapped in zoos and those animals will likely never get happy.

Top 10 Zoo Pros & Cons – Summary List

Zoo ProsZoo Cons
Zoos can help to protect endangered speciesZoos do not provide natural living conditions
Zoos can raise awareness on global problemsAnimals may feel trapped
Visits at the zoo are rather affordableZoos are problematic from an ethical view
Especially nice if you have kidsConditions are often rather poor
You can see many exotic animalsStaff may have insufficient knowledge
Takes away the need to travel to see animalsZoos may alter the behavior of animals
Global cooperation is encouragedLack of regulation can be a problem
Zoos may protect animals from poachingSome zoos are quite crowded
Nice for field tripsAnimals may develop mental issues
Multiple types of zoosNot possible to return animals to the wild

Do We Need Zoos?

As we can see from the previous discussion, zoos are a rather controversial topic. While there are many advantages to zoos, there are also many problems related to those facilities.

In my opinion, keeping animals in zoos can be justifiable as long as animals are kept under rather natural conditions and are not caged in pretty confined spaces.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoo

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/zoo/

https://oakleesguide.com/10-tips-for-an-awesome-zoo-trip/

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

Wanna make a contribution to save our environment? Share it!

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