Zoos can be a controversial topic, especially depending on what zoo you’re talking about. Personally, I love the Adelaide and Monarto Zoos, I’ve been to two others overseas but they were the kind of zoos that drug animals for photos and I can’t get on board with that sort of practise.
Some people or groups (hello, PETA) believe animals, especially wild animals like lions, shouldn’t be held in captivity. But what happens when a species are dying out, say they’re critically endangered and in the next 10 years will be extinct in the wild. What do you do then? You bring that species into captivity and breed them with the aim of releasing a population of them into the wild.
Or do you think that we should just let these animals go extinct? Maybe there is an argument for that, maybe it’s the natural order of things. But what about when it’s not? Take the black rhino for example, it’s critically endangered in Africa and although in many areas it’s illegal to hunt them, it still happens. So sitting on your hands and thinking enacting laws is enough is equivalent to sticking your head in the sand and hoping the problem goes away. And it will go away because there won’t be any rhino left, but is that the outcome we want?
And so we come back to zoos, and the purpose of many zoos is not just to exhibit animals for the public to see, but to educate them on each animals’ plight. To conserve species using sometimes even a genetic based breeding program that incorporate zoos not just in one country but internationally as well.
I know there are zoos where the focus is on people being able to pet animals like tigers, or ride elephants. Those zoos, I have a problem with. They drug the tigers for a photo, they beat the elephants into submission, and that is just awful. Don’t support those zoos.
Zoos like Adelaide and Monarto Zoo, they are conservation focussed, they want to save species and educate the public and engage them in helping save the animals as well.
So I challenge you, go to your local zoo, not just to see the animals, but if the zookeepers do any talks, go to a couple of those, find out what the focus of the zoo is and how they achieve it. You will be amazed at what they are trying to achieve.