At the zoo, guests get to learn about various species of animals they wouldn’t otherwise get to see up close in the wild. Visitors to zoos have the ability to get close to animals that might be dangerous or so rare that seeing them in their natural habitat might be impossible. Many zoos also incorporate other family attractions into their parks, such as children’s playgrounds, rides and food vendors, making it a destination for educational entertainment. But not everything about the zoo is positive; in fact, there are those who feel the zoo’s disadvantages outweigh their benefits.
Lack of Freedom
Zoos are prisons for animals who long to be free in their own habitats, according to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals website. Although many modern zoos go to great lengths to make the animals in their care comfortable, they are unable to provide the freedom associated with the animal’s natural world. Animals are not able to communicate properly with zookeepers, but supports of organizations, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, claim that the animals are very unhappy in their virtual jail cells and that the conditions are often dirty and unhealthy, both physically and psychologically, for the animals contained in the zoo enclosures.
Try as they might, a zoo cannot accurately duplicate the natural habitat of the animals within the enclosures. The best enclosures may seem impressive to guests of a zoo, but they pale in comparison to the freedom and space the animals have in the wild. There are far less diverse plant and animal interactions, if any at all, and this can lead to extreme boredom and loneliness for the animals.
Rarely Helps Endangered Survive
One of the common focuses of zoos is an attempt to help protect endangered species. To increase numbers of a particular species, they obviously need to breed. Zoos try to arrange breeding for these animals, but according to the Wildlife New Zealand website, very few endangered species are successfully bred in captivity. Of 1,370 species involved in a survival plan by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, only 1.4 percent of the species were likely to be reintroduced to the wild after captive breeding in zoos.
More Expensive Than Conservation
Zoos are considered one method of wildlife conservation, but taking care of the natural habitats of these animals would actually cost less in many instances than caring for them in a zoo. According to the Wildlife New Zealand Zoo Watch website, the average cost to care for a Black Rhino in captivity is about $16,000 per year, while the cost of protecting a wild habitat for one rhino would be around $1,000 per year.
Thomas Northcut/Lifesize/Getty Images
Lee Morgan is a fiction writer and journalist. His writing has appeared for more than 15 years in many news publications including the "Tennesseean," the "Tampa Tribune," "West Hawaii Today," the "Honolulu Star Bulletin" and the "Dickson Herald," where he was sports editor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University.