Why do we need Zoos …

In a perfect world

Every so often I see the same rehashed arguments and petitions making the rounds on the Internet, demanding the closure of all zoos and aquariums because they are cruel. I agree that in a perfect world we would not need zoos, because all creatures would be free to wander this planet as they have done for thousands of years without the fear of poaching or exploitation.

In a perfect world descendants of ancient civilizations would understand that modern medicine is cheaper and more effective than traditional medicines which require the death of an animal to extract the smallest amount of a substance that only the very rich can afford.

In a perfect world deep sea fishing would not require nets that end up discarded into the ocean and left to float around for decades trapping turtles, dolphins and other sea creatures –  condemning them to a slow painful death.

Sea World – Gold Coast, Sea Bird Rehabilitation Area

In a perfect world people would be given incentives not to destroy hectares of forests to grow crops that they receive minimal monetary return for. In a perfect world the environment and the animals that call those places home would be deemed invaluable.   

Tiger Island – Dream World

In a perfect world governments around the world would have plenty of money (and equal desire) to invest in the safety of their indigenous animals and the habitats they call home. If any species needed a helping hand, that government would put in the resources to help its recovery and ensure it’s long-term survival.

I could easily continue arguing what it would be like to live in a perfect world – but we all know that it is not.

It sounds so simple to close down zoos and aquariums because we don’t like seeing animals locked in cages and we would all rather see them free. But I think the world conservation problems of today are a little more complicated than that. Zoos, wildlife sanctuaries and aquariums around the world are more often than not the last place of refuge for animals that have been lucky enough to be saved from the effects of this not so perfect world. 

I think it is easy for some organisations to point out the poorly run zoos and then suggest the rest are the same. I think its a lazy way to create a message to put up a photo of a sad baby bear behind bars, or a dolphin in a concrete pool and declare all zoos bad, rather than explain how good zoos are helping fight poachers, rescue dolphins from nets or fund the protection of rhinos from getting their horns cut off and then left for dead.  
I think if we focus on some of the real issues that effect our wild animals and their environments then maybe one day we won’t have a need for zoos.  Until that day comes I believe zoos are an important tool for the survival of our wild animals and their environments.



One comment

  1. Thanks for this … This is such a complex issue, and I bet most zoo visitors would prefer to see wildlife in their natural surrounds – if only we could. Wouldn't it be great if we prioritised the environment and animal conservation so this could happen? Until such a time I say 'thank God' for the thousands of people who work, support, volunteer and donate to GOOD zoos and wildlife conservation activity – including you!


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