Zoos sometimes get a bad rap

The critically endangered Corroboree Frog

Zoos sometimes get a bad rap. You will see stories on the internet arguing that zoos are cruel, inhumane and generally a money making machine at the animal’s expense. 

Let’s face it, zoos are businesses – even if they are not-for-profit ventures. Their absolute reason for being is to make money.  Like any business, the focus should always be on the bottom line with profit being the key goal.  The more interesting the zoo, the more visitors attend, resulting in more profit. Give or take a few factors, but in a nut shell that is business 101. 

Of course, what the zoo does with this profit makes all the difference. Rehabilitation centres, breeding programs for endangered species, wildlife rescue teams, conservation education programs, research and of course larger enclosures are just some of the ways good zoos spend their profits. 

So back to my point, without healthy attendance zoos can’t expand and people generally go to zoos to see animals right?  Big ticket animals like elephants, lions and giraffes are usually the key attractions and get the crowds in the gate. Unfortunately you don’t just go to a zoo to see the Fleay Barred Frog or the Northern Quoll, arguably just as important as their more popular animal cousins. 

Consider some of the lesser known critically endangered animals at zoos, the ones that are sitting on the brink of extinction. Most of them aren’t cute or easily recognised. In fact some are plain ugly and you probably wouldn’t pay to go and see them on their own. You may not even know they exist but the next time you go to the zoo and after you have seen the lions, elephants and giraffes you may see one of these obscure little creatures hanging on the brink, but still in there fighting, thanks to your local zoo and the price of your entry ticket. 

Yes zoos are money making ventures and to get the crowds in they need those big ticket animals. But those profits can make all the difference. Surely this makes zoos a business worth running?


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