A leopard at the Tamil Nadu ZooSource: “Visit to Tamil Nadu Zoo,” piqsels.com (accessed Aug. 12, 2021)

Zoos have actually existed in some kind since at the very least 2500 BCE in Egypt and Mesopotamia, where records show giraffes, bears, dolphins, and also other animals were kept by aristocrats. The earliest still operating zoo in the world, Tiergarten Schönbrunn in Vienna, opened up in 1752. <1> <2>

The contemporary zoo progressed from 19th century europe zoos. Largely modeled ~ the London Zoo in Regent’s Park, this zoos to be intended for “genteel amusement and also edification,” according to Emma Marris, ecological writer and Institute fellow at the UCLA institute of the Environment and Sustainability. As such, reptile houses, aviaries, and also insectariums were added with animals grouped taxonomically, to relocate zoos past the spectacle of big, scary animals. <40>

Carl Hegenbeck, a German exotic pet importer, introduced the modern-day model of much more natural habitats for pets instead of obvious cages in ~ his pet Park in Hamburg in 1907. That adjust prompted the change in zoo narrative native entertainment to the protection of animals. In the so late 20th century, the narrative changed again to the conservation of animals to stave turn off extinction. <40>

Controversy has actually historically surrounding zoos, from arguments over displaying “exotic” humans in exhibits come zookeepers not learning what to feeding animals. A gorilla called Madame Ningo, the firstgorillato come in the United says in 1911 that was come live in ~ theBronx Zoo, was fed hot dinners and also cooked meat regardless of gorillas beingherbivores, for example. <3> <4>

The modern-day debate about zoos often tends to emphasis on pet welfare top top both sides, whether zoos protect pets or imprison them.

You are watching: Animals in circuses pros and cons

Should Zoos Exist?

Pro 1

Zoos education the public around animals and conservation efforts.

As the Apr. 2021, there are 241 accredited zoos in the joined States. The zoos tempt over 181 million tourists annually, which is an ext than the approximately 131 million yearly spectators the the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB combined. <5> <6> <7> <8> <9> <10> <9> <41>

According come a research of 26 zoos global published in conservation Biology, visitors to zoos increased their expertise of biodiversity and certain individual action to protect biodiversity. <11>

Robin Ganzert, PhD, President and also CEO the American Humane, stated, “zoos carry out people, specifically impressionable children, through the chance to watch these remarkable pets up close. World won’t protect what lock don’t love, and they can’t love what lock don’t know. No matter how carefully programs like Planet earth depict animals, naught will match the shortcut of seeing them in genuine life. Just look in ~ a child’s eyes at the zoo when he or she to meet a tiger or an in similar way majestic animal.” <12>

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Pro 2

Zoos produce useful scientific research.

228 accredited zoos released 5,175 peer-reviewed manuscripts in between 1993 and also 2013. In 2017, 173 accredited us zoos spent $25 million on research, studied 485 types and subspecies of animals, operated on 1,280 research projects, and also published 170 research study manuscripts. <13> <14>

Because so countless diseases can be transmitted from animals to humans, such together Ebola, Hantavirus, and the bird flu, zoos generally conduct condition surveillance research study in wildlife populations and their own captive populaces that can lead come a direct impact on human being health. For example, the veterinary staff at the Bronx Zoo in new York alerted health officials that the existence of West Nile Virus. <15>

Zoo research study is provided in other ways such as informing regulation like the Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act, helping engineers develop a robot to relocate like a sidewinder snake, and also encouraging minority students to go into STEM careers. <37> <38> <39>

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Pro 3

Zoos save species from extinction and also other dangers.

Corroboree frogs, east bongos, regent honeyeaters, Panamanian gold frogs, Bellinger flow snapping turtles, gold lion tamarins, and Amur leopards, amongst others, have been conserved from extinction by zoos. <16>

Zoos are likewise working to conserve polar bears, tigers, and wild afri elephants indigenous habitat loss, apes and rhinos native poachers, dolphins and whales indigenous hunters, and bees and also butterflies from populace declines, amongst many other initiatives to aid many various other animals. <17> <18> <19> <20>

23% of birds and also 47% of tiny mammals (weighing much less than around 2.2 pounds) space negatively impacted by climate change. By keeping populations the animals and also conducting wild repopulation, zoos can assist preserve species in risk from climate change. Over there were only nine California condors in the wild in 1985. A share conservation effort between the san Diego and also Los Angeles Zoos with other establishments resulted in a population of 276 California condors in the wild and also another 170 in captivity by 2016. <21><22> <23>

Przewalski’s horses, the last wild horses, were asserted extinct in the wild in the 1960s when around 12 stayed in zoos. By 2018, reproduction programs at zoos enhanced the number come 2,400 horses, and 800 to be reintroduced come the wild. <24> <25>

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Con 1

Zoos don"t educate the public sufficient to justify keeping animals captive.

A review published in pet Studies Repository concluded, “to date there is no compelling or even an especially suggestive proof for the case that zoos and aquariums promote perspective change, education, and also interest in preservation in visitors.” also a research widely quote to justify the debate that zoos educate the public stated, “there to be no all at once statistically significant change in understanding seen” due to the fact that visitors understand a lot about ecology before going come the zoo. <26><27>

TV shows such together Planet Earth carry wild pets into life rooms, permitting people to watch the animals in their herbal habitats without causing injury to pets such as the endangered snow leopard. Romesh Ranganathan, a brother comedian, stated, “It still slightly surprises me that anybody thinks that we should have actually zoos in ~ all. The animals constantly look miserable in captivity… he idea that children only get excited about things they have the right to see in the flesh is ridiculous. My children are obsessed with dinosaurs that no longer exist, and also Skylanders, which have actually never existed.” <28>

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Con 2

Zoos are detrimental come animals" physics health.

A research of 35 species of carnivores, including brown bears, cheetahs, and lions, uncovered that zoo enclosures to be too small for the pets to carry out their regular routines, i beg your pardon led to troubles such as pacing and an ext infant deaths. Polar bears, for example, had actually an child mortality price of 65% due to small enclosures. <29>

About 70% that adult male gorillas in north America have actually heart disease, the leading reason of death among gorillas in captivity, although the problem is almost fully absent in the wild. Other an excellent apes have similar health problems in captivity. <4>

Captive elephants live about fifty percent as lengthy as wild elephants: 18.9 year v. 41.7 years for eastern elephants and also 16.9 years v. 35.8 years for African elephants. Of 77 elephants in 13 zoos, 71 were overweight and also spent 83% of your time indoors, contributing to early death. <30>

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Con 3

Zoo confinement is psychologically damaging to animals.

Animal behaviorists regularly see zoo animals suffering from problems not checked out in the wild, such together clinical depression in clouded leopards and gibbons, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in brown bears, and anxiety in giraffes. The animals experience these issues due to smaller enclosures, alters in diet and activities, and also the arrival of points not seen in the wild, such as clinical exams and people through cameras. The Toledo Zoo ran a psychiatric regime in i m sorry a gorilla v premenstrual depression was prescribed Prozac. To lull them into new habitats, an agitated tiger was given Valium, and also anxious zebras and wildebeests were provided Haldol. <31><32> <33>

A research of captive chimpanzees found that “abnormal plot is endemic in the population,” and also includes habits such as eating feces, twitching, rocking earlier and forth, plucking hair, pacing, vomiting, and also self-mutilation, among others. The research concluded that the cause of such behavior could it is in mental wellness issues. <34>

About 24% that captive orcas have actually “major” come “extreme” tooth wear and also 60% had actually tooth fractures as a result of stress-induced teeth grinding. Together a an outcome of the 2013 documentary Blackfish, i beg your pardon exposed the psychological damage done to orcas by SeaWorld, California outlawed captive orca breeding. <35> <36><36>

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Click for an Encyclopaedia Britannica video about the prestige of genetic diversity in captive breeding.

Discussion Questions

1. Have to zoos exist? If you think they should, take into consideration whether they should remain the exact same or change. If you believe they must not, consider how rather to accomplish zoo’s preservation efforts.

2. Prolong the debate to other human-made animal habitats, such as safari parks and animal sanctuaries.

3. What various other conservation initiatives are crucial to conserving wildlife? describe your answer(s).

Take Action

1. Analysis “Eight reasons Zoos Are good for Conservation” native conservation scientist James Borrell.

2. Consider the pros and cons with a video from above the Noise.

3. Check out conservationist Damian Aspinall’s opinion the zoos room “outdated and cruel.”

4. Think about how girlfriend felt around the issue before reading this article. After analysis the pros and cons ~ above this topic, has actually your reasoning changed? If so, how? List 2 to three ways. If her thoughts have not changed, list two to three methods your far better understanding the the “other side of the issue” now helps you far better argue your position.

5. Press for the position and also policies you support by composing US national senators and representatives.


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32.Daniel Engber, “The Tears of a Panda,” slate.com, Sep. 14, 2006
33.Jenni Laidman, “Zoos using Drugs to aid Manage worried Animals,” toledoblade.com, Sep. 12, 2005
34.Lucy Birkett and also Nicholas E. Newton-Fisher, “How Abnormal Is the actions of Captive, Zoo-Living Chimpanzees?,” journals.plos.org, June 16, 2011
35.John Jett, et al., “Tooth damages in Captive Orcas,” sciencedirect.com, might 2018
36.Natasha Daly, “Orcas Don’t execute Well in Captivity. Here’s Why,” nationalgeographic.com, Mar. 25, 2019
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Emma Marris, "Modern Zoos are Not worth the ethical Cost,: nytimes.com, June 11, 2021
41.Association the Zoos and Aquariums, "Currently Accredited Zoos and Aquariums," aza.org, Apr. 2021