Zoos – A Net Positive

How zoos actually benefit animals and ecosystems


Lyra Thompson, Staff Writer

The topic of zoos and their ethicality is a polarizing one – some people think that it’s inhumane to keep animals in captivity for humans’ entertainment, while others feel that zoos are actually beneficial to animal species and the environment as a whole.

I agree with the latter.

I think that zoos are not only a way to educate people about different animals and ecosystems, they can also help to keep species populations alive and safe from predators. Many zoos have had breeding programs that increase the population of certain species, bringing them out of endangered status.

An example of how zoos have saved endangered species comes from the Los Angeles Zoo. “In 1982, there were just 23 California Condors left in the wild. Today there are 100s residing at the Los Angeles Zoo, of which 75 have been released into the jungle. Thanks to the continuous efforts from researchers since 1987, each and every Condor was captured and moved into a captive-breeding program which made the end result possible.”

Having animals in a zoo is a good way to further understand how animals interact in their environments, which can help improve the lives of those animals in the wild. It’s easy to observe and conduct research on animals in a controlled environment, and that research can be used to benefit the ecosystems of the world.

Animals in most zoos are well cared for. They don’t have to worry about avoiding predators, disease, or starvation. In a zoo, they are fed consistently and are always safe and warm. There’s no hierarchy of species or survival of the fittest. They can enjoy their peaceful, stress-free lives.

Along with caring for and protecting animals, zoos are also beneficial to the people that visit them. People of all ages and backgrounds can learn about animal species they would never get the opportunity to see in the wild. Someone from the Arizona desert landscape can go to a zoo and learn more about penguins; an Alaskan could see lizards native to Australia. Going to a zoo expands people’s knowledge and understanding.

Zoos are very educational. Most exhibits include lots of information about every animal and their lifestyle. Experts around the zoo might give first-hand experience about working with the animals. Many children who might not otherwise be interested in animals can come into a zoo for entertainment, and come out of it with education.

This education about animals leads to more action taken to protect them in the wild. If people learn about animals and see them up close, they might be more willing to donate money to conservation efforts or help fund research.

While there are certainly some zoos in different parts of the world that keep their animals in cramped environments and don’t treat them well, the majority of zoos in the world have many benefits for the animals in their care and the visitors of the zoos.