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The Truth About Zoos Essay

The Truth About Zoos
Zoos are public parks which claim to display animals for the purpose of recreation and education, as well as the protection of endangered species; but the reality is that zoos are doing more harm than good. Animals in the zoo are more likely to suffer from illness or injury than an animal living in the wild, and they often have a shorter lifespan. Even though some zoos have an endangered species exhibit with intentions to protect and rehabilitate animals, the fact is that they are not doing an adequate job of protecting the animals. Zoos have been harmful to the very animals hay have sworn to protect.

Animals in captivity often suffer from anxiety, boredom and confinement. Animals are unable to thrive in small enclosures, especially with unnatural weather and climates. (Carr, 2012) For example, elephants are known to walk up to 30 miles a day; but Lucy, from the Edmonton zoo, is kept inside a barn when the zoo is closed and during Edmonton’s frigid winter months. This means that she spends most of her time indoors with limited room to move. The continuous confinement because of the harsh weather has led Lucy to develop painful arthritis.

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(Carr, 2012) In fact, researchers have found that elephants in zoos only live for 17 years, compared to elephants in their natural habitat that have life spans of over 50 years. (Mhuire, 2013)

The stresses, confinement, and constant attention has had a negative effect on the mental health of the animals. One study done at the Malaysian Zoo revealed that animals, particularly big animals such as giraffes and elephants, have a medical condition known as zoochosis. (Michal, n.d.) Zoochosis is an informal term that is used to describe the depressed behavior and associated physical actions of animals who are kept in confinement. (Michal, n.d.) “If you have ever witnessed a captive animal rock and sway back and forth, you’ve seen the disease firsthand. This condition is so rampant in zoos that some zoos give animals a mood-altering drug, such as Prozac, because the public has started to catch on” (Carr, 2012)

Some animals are so miserable that they risk their lives to escape. “At the Dallas Zoo, a gorilla named Jabari tried to escape by jumping over the walls of his enclosure, only to be fatally shot by the police. A witness later confirmed that teenagers were taunting him by throwing rocks.” (Carr, 2012)

Family bonds are severed when animals are sold or traded to other zoos. (Mhuire, 2013) According to an article on the PETA website, the Chinese government ‘rents’ pandas to zoos worldwide for fees of more than $1 million per year. (Carr, 2012). This separation of family and frequent relocation has only increased the emotional stress experienced by the animals.


Animal abuse frequently occurs around the world. A Huffington Post article shows pictures of visitors at a China zoo throwing snowballs at lions. (Michal, n.d.) In a more tragic case, 11 rare Siberian Tigers died in 2010 in a Chinese wildlife park because the zoo couldn’t afford to supply the tigers with proper care and food.” (Michal, n.d.) To counter the argument about zoos saving endangered species, PETA points out that “most animals in the zoos are not endangered, nor are they being prepared for release into natural habitats. In fact, it is nearly impossible to release captive-bred animals into the wild”. (Carr, 2012)Actually, only 2% of the world’s threatened or endangered species are registered in breeding programs. (Carr, 2012) It is a common belief that endangered species are another strategy to bring more visitors into the zoos. Endangered species like the Giant Panda bring in thousands of visitors. (Michal, n.d.) George Schaller, the scientific director of the Bronx zoo says that by moving the Giant Panda from one zoo to another for display purposes, the zoo system is contributing to the extinction of the species by causing stress. (Carr, 2012) The sad truth is that no matter how good the facilities and services of a zoo are, the animals are bound to suffer. Zoos simply do not have the resources needed to care for animals, especially endangered animals. Zoos are nothing more than internment camps for these animals.

Carr, M. (2012, February 23). The Reality Of Zoos. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from PETA: http://www.peta.org/living/animal-friendly-fun/the-reality-of-zoos.aspx Mhuire, S. (2013, April 12). Zoos Are Internment Camps For Animals And Should Be Shut Down. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from Scoil Mhuire English:

http://scoilmhuireenglish.weebly.com/1/post/2013/04/23-zoos-are-internment-camps-for-animals-andshould-be-shut-down-pro.html Michal. (n.d.). Shutting Down Zoos. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from Teen Ink: http://teenink.com/opinion/environment/article/533342/Shutting-Down-Zoos/

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