Emily Lyon

Professor Ramos

English 101

16 December 2019

Animals across the globe are mistreated on a daily basis. One of the main contributors to this common dilemma are zoos. Zoos have a long history of abusing animals as well as providing an unacceptably horrific space of living. Zoos are notorious for advertising their establishments as a fun, family friendly event. Though, there are several underlying cases that completely demolish that ideal. From the lack of space to roam, to the lack of respect for these creatures, this validates the argument as to why zoos should be abolished immediately.

One of the many reasons as to why zoos should be abolished is that zoo habitats are too crowded. According to “No Room for Elephants in Zoos” by S.S. Bist, “[Animals] need more space than what is available with the zoos” (Bist 2010). The article notes that some zoos have a regular scheduled period where they allow elephants to walk around. However, this break period for the elephants is so little that, at best, provides “adequate exercise” (Bist 2010). This is bad for the elephants, and any animal in general because animals are not supposed to be confined to one small, designated area. Similarly to humans, animals need space. They need to be given the freedom to roam around in the wild where they have an open environment. If they are not granted this necessary space, these creatures will become distressed, overwhelmed, depressed, and may even resort to violence and self harm. There was a video from the website “Peta2” that documented the story of a young chimpanzee named Iris. This poor animal was locked away in a crammed, cemented cell with little to no lighting. She was so bored and in complete desolation that she would huddle in the corner of her cage and isolate herself. The video also showed other scenarios of animals that would hit themselves, pace back and forth, and run in circles. These are all common signs of discomfort that are more than likely to be seen with an animal at a zoo exhibit. Though this is very troubling, these creatures are still forced to be placed behind bars for the entertainment of others. 

In addition to animals needing their own space, there is also another major issue revolving the need to shut down zoos. The other problem that is witnessed behind the scenes at these parks is that animals are not being treated with respect. Taken from Dale Jamieson’s “Against Zoos” paper, he argued that animals “are deprived of great many goods” (Jamieson 1985). Specifically, Jamieson recognized that wildlife are “prevented from gathering their own food, developing their own social orders and generally behaving in ways that are natural to them” (Jamieson 1985). To summarize, animals are reprogrammed to rely on others for their food and are placed in a restricted environment where they cannot act as they normally do. This issue causes several animals to fail to survive when or if they happen to be released back into the wild. Similar mistreatment is what was highlighted in National Geographic’s “Hot topic: Is it time for zoos to be banned?” article. It mentioned the various cases in which zoos have not properly cared for its animals. For instance, it recognized the Copenhagen Zoo that was responsible for “killing and publicly dissecting Marius, a two-year-old giraffe in 2014” (Draven 2017). Situations like these are completely and utterly unacceptable. There is not a valid explanation that could justify any of these actions that are inflicted upon these innocent wildlife. To take this a step further, there is also a movie called “Blackfish” which describes the harsh treatment towards orca whales at SeaWorld. These creatures would have to experience rough encounters from their trainers daily to ensure a perfect performance for families. For example, some trainers would refuse to feed their orcas if they do not execute a trick from their practice. Others had their whales practice tricks for several hours, some not having breaks. Animals are broken down both physically and mentally to put on performance for us humans. They are not respected and admired as they should be, but rather, are completely taken advantage of. But hey, we get to see a whale do a backflip right? 

While I will not support the opposing side of the argument, I can understand how zoos can be seen as beneficial for people’s education. There are plenty of zoos that contain “fun facts” or backgrounds of the animals at their exhibits. This can enlighten others about wildlife that they are interested in, and even the animals they never knew existed. It is also mentioned in ThoughtCo’s “A List of Arguments for and Against Zoos” that “Zoos are a tradition, and a visit to a zoo is a wholesome, family activity” (Lin 2019). I know of a lot of people, myself included, who have visited a zoo for a field trip when they were younger. My teacher had assigned me a specific animal to research that day so I could present it to the class the following day at school. Though, while zoos can be seen at face value entertaining and informative, there are other outlets to receive that same source of fun education. For instance, children who desire to learn more about animals can easily look up information regarding the creature using the internet. With the access to technology, we are able to look up any article, image, or video in a manner of seconds. Therefore, if anyone, children or adult, want to research animals, they should do it by looking it up online. As far as visiting a zoo because it is “fun”, that could be more difficult to convince others to avoid. Yes, it is very fascinating to witness a giraffe face-to-face. But, people need to view this problem with ethics. A zoo is not an animal’s natural habitat. So we should not force that upon them to provide us with a “memorable experience”.

To conclude, animals deserve as much respect as any other life form on this planet. They are very important to our world and should not be taken advantage of for the selfishness of others. If we are to sustain a stable environment, we must also equally reciprocate a common courtesy amongst these creatures.

Works Cited

Siebert, Charles. “Zoos Called It a ‘Rescue.’ But Are the Elephants Really Better Off?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 9 July 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/07/09/magazine/elephants-zoos-swazi-17.html.

Bist, S.S.. “No Room for Elephants in Zoos?”. Zoo’s Print, 2010.

Jamieson, D. “Against Zoos”. Environmental Ethics: Readings in Theory and Application, 1985.

Draven, J. “Hot topic: Is it time for zoos to be banned?”. National Geographic, 2019.

“Freedom Matters Protest Poster.” CompassionWorks International, https://shop.cwint.org/products/freedom-matters-protest-poster.

Lin, D. “Arguments for and Against Zoos”. ThoughtCo., 2019.

N.A.. “Why YOU Should NOT Support Zoos”. Peta2, 2015.

“’Blackfish’ Documentary: My Personal Thoughts UTA Students Weigh In.” Plantcrush, 21 Jan. 2014, https://plantcrush.co/2013/10/24/uta-students-blackfish-documentary/.