Monday, March 17, 2014

Zoos - cruel or necessary?



When I was younger, I used to love visiting the Cincinnati zoo. My favorite part of visiting the zoo was seeing the Bengal tigers, which the zoo is known for. It's the most successful zoo in the world as far as breeding bengal tigers in captivity. It's actually how the Cincinnati Bengal's football team got its name! Go Bengals!
These visits to the zoo were always a time of great wonder to me, as one of my greatest passions in is wildlife, particularly endangered species. I used to constantly read about endangered species, and I used to love these zoo visits so I could see these beautiful animals in person that I always used to read about. 

Over the years, I have come to realize that I have many conflicting opinions about zoos in general. On the one hand, it's so incredibly sad to see a wild animal confined to an enclosure. There just seems to be something inherently cruel about that doesn't there? Tigers are meant to roam free, birds are meant to fly, sharks are meant to swim in the endless sea. 

On the other hand, zoos have played an extremely important role in successfully breeding species that were on the verge of extinction. In fact, there are certain species of wildlife that have more living animals in zoos than they do in the wild. Thus my internal conflict…

What are your thoughts on zoos? Are they cruel? Are they necessary?

134 comments:

  1. They are a mixture of both. A zoo that has the resources and room for their animals is best. (In Ohio, the zoo in Columbus is also really good.)
    Sad truth is some of those animals would die out in the wild. Zoos are their only hope for survival.

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  2. I have also said cruel, cruel, cruel, that was back then, before they cut all trees before they started violating the amazone before nature no longer matter, and before they poisoned the soil I' m not so sure anymore that it isn't less cruel to keep them safe...but locked up no there has to be something more, create a land for animals to run free, and that land be forbidden to men

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  3. I think I'm with you Keith, really mixed views. I hate to see animals in captivity, but for some it's the only way to survive.

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  4. I think zoos are necessary. I agree with what you say about how they help with conservation and breeding. Also, seeing an animal in person is what some people need in order to respect them.

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  5. I wouldn't say they're either cruel or unnecessary, but I will say they do a lot more good than harm. A lot of zoos have breeding programs and take care of sick and injured animals. By showing the animals to people they also make them care a little more.

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  6. Unfortunately they are a necessary evil these days

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  7. I think there are zoos and there are zoos. But basically I feel somewhat mixed, but tending toward.....I am glad there are zoos which keep certain animals from extinction. I also am glad for all of the children (of all ages) of this world who have a chance to see animals that they otherwise would only have a chance to see in photos!! I wonder how many children have been inspired to be naturalists, for example, by their visits to zoos. My grandchildren and I have spent many happy summer days wandering our local zoo.

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  8. Like you, I have conflicting views on this subject.
    Yes, it does make me sad to see those beautiful noble animals confined to cages and tanks, when they were born to roam free.
    Yet...as you say, some species have been saved from extinction by their incarceration in a zoo...so there are positives on both sides.
    So it is difficult to form a conclusive decision, isn't it? :)

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  9. Both! National parks and forest reserves are more humane (should I say, animane?), but they are a worse option for kids. I guess, we can have mixed feelings inside a zoo as well. I hate to see polar bears on a hot day who are obviously suffering. Flamingoes area, however; always looks serene!
    Where's the quote? )))

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  10. I'm conflicted... I wish they could roam free somewhere without harm from people... I don't think it is good for them to be locked up in captivity... it's a hard call in a lot of ways :-/

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  11. I once would have agreed with you but I think zoos have come such a long way in providing a much more natural habitat and more space for the larger creatures to roam. I worry more about zoos in third world countries and the vile cruelty many captive animals have to endure, such as the bile milking of restrained and captive bears.

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  12. Cruel..... hands down. No wildlife animal of good health should be kept in captivity unless on an endangered species list & the licensed organization is trying to prevent their extinction.

    Animals should never be used for a human's pleasure. To condemn wildlife to captivity simply in order for humans to look at them is a sin, in my book.

    For the animals~ Andrea
    XOXOXO

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  13. I love animals. I love watching them. I loved zoos as a kid, too. But already back then I only enjoyed those zoos that would provide as much natural habitat as possible - which meant birds were flying free over the visitors heads (a zoo in the Netherlands does it that way). It also meant when the animals went hiding they weren't to be seen and I think that's their right to choose. BUT I wish we could eliminate all zoos in the world because who are we that we think we have the right to keep another creature in captivity? No matter how big the cage is they're living in, it's still a cage. And no human being would want to live in one - why animals? What gives us the right to destroy their real habitat in the first place - only to be proud of ourselves later that we can breed them in captivity?
    Oh boy, I notice this topic causing a strong reaction inside of me. The more I think about it, the less I want zoos to exist and the more I want humankind to wake up and realize what we do to nature and the creatures living in it, depending on it.
    Thank you for this inspiring post!

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  14. I feel conflicted on this topic as well, although if pressed, I mostly feel zoos are unnecessary. When you get right down to the brass tax, all animals were born free and should live as such. All you have to do is look in one of these captive wild animals eyes', and all you see is sadness. I used to love going to the zoo, but now I can't face the sadness I feel when I go.

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  15. I think some of the new modern zoos are great.

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  16. I can't stand to go to a zoo and see living creatures trapped in cages....I keep thinking how I would like to be abducted by an alien race and kept in a cage for people to stare at. I can understand a breeding facility for endangered species with the prime target being eventual release into their natural habitat but if you are only breeding them for people to stare at like a museum exhibit then I say let the species fade away.

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  17. I think zoos have been helpful as they have provided a way of conservation to endangered species.

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  18. I agree with the necessary evil designation. That said, there are good zoos (like the Cincinnati Zoo) and there are some tiny, ill-kept bad ones.

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  19. As a child, I thought zoos were cool. As I've gotten older, my views on them have gotten a little more complicated. While I'm uncomfortable with them being used to gawk at animals, I agree with Claudia. But, then again, it was mankind who made a lot of animals endangered. And this makes me sad.

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  20. wont lie...i am torn....to see animals caged is so sad....i do think that rehabilitation of animals is very cool and we used to have a sanctuary for bald eagles near where we lived in MD...so is it good to help animals and appreciate them while we are? yes. to take them from their natural habitat though...ugh...i am not sure...i think it comes down to the treatment of them

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  21. On the educational side of it all - I believe they are completely necessary. Kids go and learn about different animals in the world, and kids NORMALLY wouldn't get the chance to see these animals in real life or learn about them if it wasn't for zoos. We have two local zoos in the Phoenix area, one I found out rescued dozens of animals during Hurricane Katrina. The other zoo (which we just visited in January) -- had at least 7 babies there (jaguar, giraffes etc) that may not have had that opportunity in the wild. The second zoo (the one we visited) also was a rescue haven for birds -- it was so surreal to see so many birds flying freely through the zoo :) Sometime soon, we will be visiting a relatively new zoo in Prescott, AZ. - which is dedicated to all rescue animals :)

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  22. We should not have zoos if I think about it, sort of like how they ask us not to feed the geese at the local pond. So saying, I loved the zoo as a kid.

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  23. "Black Fish", the Big Wale in the small tank and the mean treatment is causing us to rethink the whole Zoo on display experience. I think the "Wild Life Refuge", hundreds of acres fenced in and you are the one in the cage, not allowed out of your car, is replacing the Zoo. We have one in Oregon and yes, occasionally a hippo or elephant will tip a car over! That is a part of the excitement! It is in the Bible, isn't it? or maybe what we learned in the First Grade? Treat others as you wish to be treated.

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  24. Have you read any Gerald Durrell Keith?
    His zoo in jersey is the reason I changed my mind about keeping wild animals in captivity
    Oh and remember I have a captive wild rabbit called Mary
    She would have died if not put in my own little welsh zoo

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  25. excellent topic Keith. I think more and more zoos are taking on better responsibilities of giving the animals and birds more liveable spaces and also the breeding programs are so important. I am thinking allot of zoos may have suffered in the past few years with the down turn of our economy and lack of finding.
    there are still many small zoos that do not do a good job taking care of their animals so it is dilema

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  26. You know I don't know to be honest with you. Something I would have to think about.
    Happy St. Patrick's Day to you

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  27. I think of course as in many things in life , there are good aspects and bad.
    Of course there are definitely some very bad zoos as well as those that try to do a good job at keeping the animals as happy as possible in the confined environment . It is one of those questions that can get dicey isn't it ? Should we be keeping animals that have no place left in their natural environment from going extinct or should we be more concerned about keeping their natural environment from going extinct ~ is that even a possibility ?

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  28. The good ones that actually care for the animals and help them from becoming extinct, I have little problem with, as in the wild you have poachers and stuff. The ones that just use them to make a buck though they should just go.

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  29. I struggle with this a lot. I don't visit zoos as often anymore. I personally would like to work at a zoo so that I could really form my own opinion. I think in a lot of ways we need zoos because of the work they do, but it always sad for the animals. The Cincy zoo is one of the best I've seen. They do seem to give the animals a lot of space for the most part. When I was there in October they were working on a new large outside exbit.

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  30. I share your struggle. I do believe that a natural habitat setting for animals is a kind way to help them. I cannot fathom a cage for any living creature.

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  31. I think they're a mix of both. I have a hard time visiting zoos. I do take my kids, but I really don't like to spend much time there. I feel sorry for the caged animals.

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  32. I don't think zoos are the best environment, but I do think they are necessary for the preservation of some species.

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  33. I have the same internal conflict about zoos, Keith. It got exacerbated when I went to South Africa this year. Seeing these amazing creatures roaming the way they are meant to made me even more uncomfortable with zoos. However, if it is the only way some folks will see these animals and develop a passion for caring about them, perhaps there is a purpose that is acceptable.

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  34. You have posed a difficult question! Our grandchildren dearly love to visit the zoo, and it has helped encourage their interest in animals, much better than simply reading about them or looking at picture books.

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  35. It's lunacy that keeping wild animals locked up for MONEY, but it is necessary to the keep safe from them who would kill justify that use.

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  36. I also am conflicted on zoos. They provide access to seeing animals many of us would not otherwise have so they help us learn but they also change the animals they shelter. . . . . . . .

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  37. And they give grandmas the ability to take her grand-kids for a day of enjoyment. I'm conflicted too, but I sure love going to the zoo.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  38. from what i've read online, seems zoos in some countries are terrible. i would hope most in the US are well-managed, but i know that's probably not the case as funds dry up, personnel leave, animals remain.

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  39. I didn't know that about the Cincinnati Bengal's team. Very interesting.

    I think if a zoo is done correctly, it's a great place for us to learn about all the different animals. But, it has to be humane. There's nothing worse than small spaces for animals that need to run. It's not fair to the animals.

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  40. I'm not sure on this one. I enjoy zoos and would probably not see most of those animals otherwise - but I'm not sure where the line should be drawn.

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  41. It's a mixed bag for me. The zoo I know best, Woodland Park in Seattle has wonderful habitats, sometimes you can't see any critters at all the habitat is so good, but there are still parts that are not so good. They run conservation and breeding programs, and conservation education programs, funded at least in part by admissions. But still, I wonder if there isn't something better we could do. How do you educate the public without the animals, we are an "entertainment" nation. Still, a lot of progress has been made in 40 years, such a long time if you're locked in a cage. This is my non-answer.

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  42. We obviously do not live in a perfect world where there is enough room for all of us. Some zoos are better than others. Because we people are over populating the planet, there is no choice. Zoos are a necessity, and have become in a way an Ark. The best have enclosures that help to satisfy the animals physical as well as emotional needs. Most have come a long way from their past of keeping animals in cramped cages. The San Diego Zoo (which I've visited) usually gets the top spot in ratings but my favorite zoo, which I feel is better or equal to the San Diego Zoo, is in the middle of the country... the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha Nebraska. I would love to see a day when we don't need zoos, but sadly that will not be in my lifetime.

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  43. I have had a serious inner debate on this topic the past couple years. I feel like zoos are wonderful when they can save and breed species that are threatened, but I also feel like animals should be able to live out their lives in as natural of a setting as possible. I also do like how zoos educate the public on wildlife and the problem of endangered species. So I'm still torn. The one thing I do feel now is that circuses are definitely cruel. I don't like the idea of exploiting animals for entertainment purposes only. And there are so many cases of cruelty in circus shows with the elephants and tigers. But for zoos, I'm still on the fence!

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  44. I am conflicted on this. I think zoos can help with saving species but I have problems with them just housing animals that are meant to be in the wild. I will probably never visit another zoo for that reason.

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  45. I think zoos are very useful, especially for those animals who have been injured and can't survive in their natural habitat any longer. The circus on the other hand, I don't feel great about them. Forcing animals to perform for our entertainment just doesn't seem right to me.

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  46. Keith,
    We are thinking alike right now, cause I was just talking about wanting to visit the zoo. I love seeing the animals at the zoo, but on the other hand, I wish the animals could roam free out in the wild where they are meant to be. I know exactly what you're talking about here, cause I feel the same way about zoos. For someone who enjoys taking pictures, the zoo is one of the best places to capture all the beauty of these amazing animals. But if it were up to me, I would set them free. :~)

    It's nice to know that you have a love for animals too.

    ~Sheri

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  47. Oh, Keith, this has been a struggle for me for a long time. I think if zoos would only house the animals that could not survive out in the wild, I'd feel better about them. I'll never forget the parrots at the Baton Rouge Zoo that screamed and begged me not to leave one day. They broke my heart because I truly felt they were asking me to let them out. Zoos serve a purpose, but I think the whole system needs to be re-evaluated.

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  48. I think most zoos are really bad because the animals have to live in small cages which are far from being like their natural environment. So that is sad. I really prefer sanctuaries because they care more about the animals than profit.

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  49. I agree with Katrin! These animals were not meant to be caged.

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  50. This is a question with no clear answers. It depends....If only we would care for the animals that are in the wild, we would not need a place to preserve endangered species. In a perfect world.....I think if the habitat is large and the animals are well cared for, I have no problem with zoos- It is circuses and unregulated animal 'sanctuaries' that concern me. Did you know that anyone can open a sanctuary and they are not regulated? Many wild animals suffer in these places and also, many escape to die a slow and painful death from starvation. Another scary thing is that anyone is allowed to have a wild animal as a pet in some states and the black market is wreaking havoc on wildlife populations. So, in that respect, I think zoos do a good job of educating people and bringing awareness to endangered and critical habitat protection. Until we, as humans, start to value all life, and not just arrogantly and selfishly only our own, this world will always be out of balance and we will need to protect endangered species in zoos. xo Karen

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  51. This is a difficult one. You KNOW how I feel about my animals!
    If they are rescued from torture, poachers, traps and mishaps in the wild, then wildlife refuges are a good thing. Zoos, cages, unnatural habitat and gawking people who are disrespectful, is not something I support. We really should better the whole situation and become stronger in stopping criminal acts of violence and greed for animal fur and elephant tusks, etc. it sickens me, how it just never ends.
    Thank you for your thoughtful and caring post concerning our beautiful beasts of the world.

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  52. Good question. Our family has enjoyed visits to the zoo in many places. The locations we've been to have had plenty of room for the animals to roam and they seem to be healthy and well cared for. As you said, zoos have been instrumental in preserving certain species, and for educating the public as well. In this respect, I think them a good thing.

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  53. You always have the coolest topics! I think it all comes down to the people running the zoos. Are they running it as unnaturally as possible in order to save money? Then I hate it. Are they making the exhibits as true to the wild as possible, even if it required a bit more cost? Then they have a good thing going. I think the benefit of successful breeding as well as the education for younger generations make zoos a good thing if they are done well.

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  54. I feel the same way. In my opinion, they are both cruel and necessary. It all depends on your perspective, and the reason for them. Some animals are safer there; it keeps them from being poached, trapped, tortured, mistreated, abused, and led into extinction from the evilest species on earth: man. And for animals that are on the brink of extinction, these places are tremendous blessings in keeping the species going by breeding them successfully. On the other hand, there are animals there that shouldn't be there at all; there is no good reason for that. So I am conflicted. I want to help the animals and keep them safe. But not caged. I believe it's human behaviour that needs to be dealt with first. Perhaps when our species acts more responsibly and more humanely, we won't need zoos at all. This is a very interesting topic. Certainly a lot of food for thought.

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  55. I too have mixed feelings about zoo's. While I believe animals deserve to live wild and free in many situations a zoo is a safe haven for them. I think it comes down to how they are cared for in these places of refuge..and it depends on man's ability to honor the land and nature so that these animals can survive in their natural habitat. A thought provoking question with no clear answer.

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  56. maar zo kan je wel deze mooie foto maken.

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  57. My views are much the same as yours - conflicted. I guess they are a necessary evil.

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  58. I think it's a matter of how the animals are cared for, how much space they have at the zoo, etc. Zoos are too important to kids to see them banished all together, I think.

    Cheers and be well.
    xoRobyn

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  59. I prefer sanctuaries to zoos, Keith, as they have a lot more room to roam around, and are generally very well cared for. The Gentle Barn comes to mind. http://www.gentlebarn.org/ I do agree with Rawknrobyn on it depending how the animals are cared for. I have to say that I personally prefer nature parks and sanctuaries to zoos, though.

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  60. I agree with you on all points. I think there are other facilities that could manage breeding programs. Zoos let us off the hook. What we really have to do is preserve native habitat for these critters.

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  61. I too am conflicted...I love going to zoos but don't like seeing animals entrapped?!

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  62. Seems to be a lot of conflicted people here I have to join them. B

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  63. I echo most of the comments said so far.

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  64. I hate seeing animal suffer in captivity but how else would we see those gorgeous animals otherwise? We keep small calves in small pens so we can manage them better and they feel secure shortly after they are introduced to the small pens. Born outside they run and are scared of everything.
    JB

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  65. Zoo's have come a long way and really try to keep the animals happy but it is still a zoo and I'm not a fan of them.

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  66. I"m right there with you. I see the need to protect the endangered species (especially from hunting for a certain part - like elephant tusks). But as animals they do need to be free. We visit the Denver Zoo occasionally. I'm not even sure how many years ago, two polar bears cubs were born and taken care of by the zoo keepers because the mama didn't. Klondike and Snow. They went on to live in Florida and Snow died a year or so ago and the hearts of everyone in Denver broke. We all saw her as our bear. If the zoo keepers hadn't of stepped in she would have for sure died. The lines at the zoo that summer were extra ordinarily long! They even made a PBS documentary about their early life. Circuses, on the other hand, I am NOT a fan of. Unless it is the Cirque de Soliel.

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  67. Much like everything thing else, benefits and not to it

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  68. I have mixed feelings too. A zoo is such a great learning experience, and trying to bring back endangered species. Stop poachers! But its sad to see them confined. I know they are well taken care of, fed well and treted well. But they have such a sad look in their eyes with everyone staring at them.

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  69. I knew Gerald Durrell who started the Jersey Wildlife Conservation Trust (now known as Jersey zoo) He was devoted to all kinds of wildlife and said that he would not have wanted to have a zoo but sometimes it is the only way to protect species that are under threat. It is far from ideal but better than the animals being poached to death or dying because of loss of habitat. If they are alive, at least there is hope. I was quite convinced by what he said.

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  70. Tigers for example have a much better chance of surviving in the zoo than in the wild. Many shark shows often depict a mother shark on a desperate hunt to find food before she and her pre-born baby don't have enough nourishment. A zoo shark will always be fed, a regular shark is not so lucky and may often end up as fin soup (seriously).

    Take my dog for example, she is considered an "outside" dog, but she loves being indoors. She's got her little spot in the house, and while she could be outside all day, she'd rather be sleeping on her dog-bed in an air conditioned house.

    As long as zoos take care of their animals, I see no problem.

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  71. I loved zoos when I was younger, but like you, now I'm always sad to see them in cages. When I was in Senegal I went to a game park that had rhinos, giraffes, water buffalo and other animals that were allowed to roam freely and that was amazing. I fell in love with rhinos while I was there. But even though it's sad to see the animals in cages I do think that now they're better off in zoos than out in the wild. I don't think the animals in zoos would last very long in the wild, because their care is provided for. I also think now they're working in preservation of species that are endangered, so I think there are benefits to zoos now.

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  72. I have mixed views as well. The older I get, the more I lean toward it's cruel..but like you said, there are two sides - it's tough to be entirely on one or the other.

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  73. I don't believe in zoos. I think they started with good intentions but now it's just a business and after what happened to that giraffe recently. I say let people see animals on TV.

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  74. I, too, loved trips to the zoo when I was young and when my kids were young. I think the programs to keep endangered species from extinction are important, and I like that children can see animals they wouldn't see except for on TV. (If I had my way, I wouldn't let children watch TV...) Now that I've (photographically) stalked wildlife, zoos don't do much for me anymore. I'd much rather be stealth and see the animals in their natural habitat than in a cage or enclosure.

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  75. I don't like going to them much anymore though i went to the London one every week with the kids then to the Oakland one most weeks (the Oakland one is actually quite beautiful) there was a great doco on NPR how they were transformed in the 70's by one man, before that it was just small cages

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  76. I think they are a mixture of both!

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  77. I feel we've stolen something from them, everytime we confine them.
    In this case, its their habitat, their freedom, their life. Because when they don't control our lives, who are we to claim a right to control their life?

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  78. I used to go to the Melbourne Zoo a lot when my kids were smaller - I sure they liked it more than the animals did.

    Without contact there can be no commitment - but the question remains, is this the sort of contact we need?

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  79. If they're there because they've been saved, and can no longer function in the wild, I can see it. Honestly, I have the same conflict. We go to the zoo once a year, but the older I get, the less I like it from the perspective of the animal. Like you said, there's just something sad about seeing a tiger confined to two big glass rooms with makeshift rocks and artificial sun (that's what they do for our tigers in the winter). Or even the small outside space they're forced to stay in when it's warmer. I like to see the animals, but like you, I'm conflicted.

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  80. A panda in a zoo is one less panda that is in danger of being killed by poachers in China. Same goes for tigers, and lions, and gorillas. The elephants' fates are worse - they are losing their legs to landmines.

    As far as I know, the animals in our zoo came because they could no longer live in the wild - the eagle's wing healed the wrong way, for example, so it couldn't fly.

    Zoos can be sanctuaries for protected and endangered wildlife; they also can have great breeding programs to stave off extinction. It's one thing to say let nature take its course...but when nature is actually humanity running roughshod over the entire planet, something else needs to be done.

    So I think zoos, with the focus of sanctuary-breeding-rehabilitation-education, are a good thing. If there are zoos out there that have poached and are keeping captive perfectly healthy animals for the purpose of entertainment, then of course I think that's bad. But I don't know any zoo like that.

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  81. That's so funny that you posted this. I just read an article from a zookeeper about this. Of course I made a post of it:
    http://dawnofthedandelions.blogspot.com/2014/03/what-hell-is-anti-zoo.html

    I think zoos are necessary until the animals natural habitats can be restored and/or not destroyed. Plus from that article there were many other well stated points that us as non-zookeepers don't know about.

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  82. It depends on the zoo. Some have a lot of space for them to roam around in. I know the Henry Doorly Zoo where I live has tons of space for the animals. They hire artists to create their habitat to. Our zoo also tries to have opposite sexes in the area, so that they can mate. This helps with their population.

    I've been to other zoos that had the animals in small cages. They are cruel.

    The poor circus animals, I feel bad for them! They are really limited with space when they travel. People post about the circus being fun. All I can think about is WOW those animals have it rough!

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  83. I loved the Cincinnati Zoo. I used to visit quite a bit when I lived there (in Cincinnati, that is). I think if the animals are in a pleasant, safe environment, it is not cruel. It's always better to be able to be in a natural environment, but if being in a zoo means that species won't go extinct, I'm all for it.

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  84. Cant argue on a point, Guess it has both pro and cons.

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  85. If zoos contribute to a species survival, great. Although it would be best if the zoo allows the habitat and space the animal needs.

    I'm more concerned about providing housing for many homeless who are without a place to live because of mental illness or difficulty in surviving in today'[s economy.

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  86. Interesting... you know, I've actually never had an opinion one way or the other. I LOVE visiting zoos... the San Diego one is amazing... and they're so fun for the kids to learn about and see animals... I'm glad they exist!

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  87. I think there are good zoo's and bad zoo's. The good zoo's build enclosures that enhance the animals life, health and happiness. The enclosures are big enough to let the animals roam and do not keep them enclosed to one small area.

    On the other hand zoo's like the one we had here in Las Vegas where the animals were locked in small cages and enclosures are bad zoo's and they have no business being open.

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  88. I've always had an aversion to zoo's. I'm not sure why. It started when I was a kid. However, the tigers are my favorite too.

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  89. I enjoyed seeing the animals specially when my children were younger ~ But now looking back, I really don't enjoy seeing the wild animals held captive ~ I would rather have an open kind of zoo - Good post Keith ~

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  90. That's a toughie that I hadn't really considered before. Let me think on it some and I'll get back to you.

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  91. i used to love reading about (endangered) animals and as the nearest zoos were far away visiting them was a real treat! (actually i still love doing both.) i wouldn't go as far as to say 'cruel', as the animals are pretty much provided with everything but freedom, but i think zoos can be both, they have good and bad qualities. xx

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  92. I'm a wild animal ... so are you and you and you ... we are all caged and confined ... so what was was your question? ...

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  93. i have a mixed feeling too about zoo

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  94. Mixed emotions here. I love visiting zoos and I don't think they are cruel but it would be nice for the animals to be in their natural habitat. The first time I went up north I was surprised to see so many closed in pens compared to our zoo in San Antonio where is warm so much of the year. Also we don't have barns for the cattle like they do there.

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  95. Yeah, I agree -- they're both. I'd like to think of the animals running free and wild in their natural habitat, but we all know the reality, the huge challenges they face out there (pretty much entirely related to idiotic humans and their activities). In truth, some zoos are plainly cruel, and should definitely be shut down (like the one I went to in XX, where the enclosures were small, bare and dirty), but others have been very helpful in conservation. Our local zoo has tried its best to create a spacious, "wall-less" zoo (http://goseasia.about.com/od/singaporestopattractions/a/singzoo.htm), and I guess that's perhaps the ideal zoos should aim for, especially those in countries with much more land to spare.

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  96. I would like to replace zoo with sanctuary. Let the animals live in an open space, instead of caging them.

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  97. Zoos always bothered me as a kid. They bothered me as an adult too. In fact, the only one I really approve of is the one at the Disney's Animal Kingdom because it's not actually a zoo, it's a large chunk of land with free roaming animals that are carefully monitored in as natural an environment as possible. The safari's are pretty cool too. (And you get to sit while seeing the animals. Win win if you ask me.) :)

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  98. Some criminals become "institutionalized" in prison and find themselves never wanting to leave. Maybe for some animals it is a similar situation in the zoo.

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  99. You're right in both opinions, Keith. I think the Zoos have to be more 'humanistic' to animals, although in wild the animals have very cruel life.

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  100. As I've aged I find them to be cruel. I know it's educational and all but, as a compassionate freedom lover, seeing them reduced to that kind of life makes me sad.

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  101. After seeing Blackfish, I will no longer go to Sea World. Zoo's seem pretty sad too. :(

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  102. I don't know Keith, I love zoos in Brasil I saw the most amazing Zoos (but in natural site) and here are better than old Zoos, they have space and many things, to some animals aren´t good like elephants but you can look how elephant die for people in Africa is sad. Are the men you know,

    ANyway I think the zoos are beautiful and important to all our childs how many possibilities have the kids to look tigers, lions, pantheras if is not in a Zoo?? But is important they know too how care the animals in all the planet..
    My daugther is a fanatic of care the animals, and course she is veggie, she make me think so much.
    xxx

    (and this Spain King taked pictures when he killed an elephant??horrible! you know what I mean)

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  103. I know what you mean about zoos Keith...our here really sucks in fact we just lost our tiger to cancer. We have so many imported animals...I begin to wonder why no local animals that have been injured and/or need rehabilitation aren't there. That would serve the duel purposes of educating the public and helping animals that need it and even releasing them after they're able. Dream on I guess.

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  104. What bothers me more I guess, is animals working in a circus environment. I find those circumstances closer to being cruel.

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  105. Greetings human, Keith,

    A tough call on this one. In overall balance, I think zoos are somewhat a cruel situation for animals. My human has seen the distress of some animals who should not be in captivity.

    Pawsitive wishes,

    Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar!

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  106. Keith,

    Zoos are good as a means of education and an opportunity to introduce lesser seen creatures to humans. However, the welfare and good care of the animals must be paramount at all times.
    Only then is there a decent balance between wildlife and a domestic existence.
    Eileen:)

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  107. I am uncomfortable with visiting a zoo now that I am aware of how most of the animals are probably unhappy. :(

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  108. Mehh. I understand your conflict. There's so much at play with zoos though and from what I understand, most of the animals that they have aren't "fit" to survive in the wild. There are pros and cons to zoos in general, which is what makes them so controversial I suppose. Like politics.

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  109. Hi Keith! I am conflicted as well...leaning mostly toward zoos being unnecessary and thinking there could probably be better alternatives to zoos. I think that while some zoos may do some good work at times, there are others which are so bad they have had to close due to poor conditions for the wildlife. And while I think that in some circumstances and with some animals good may have been accomplished, zoos are not good for all the animals they keep.

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  110. Nice to see the Bengal tiger! In my younger age i too love to go to zoo and enjoy the day. I enjoy in seeing all the animals!

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  111. Not a fan of zoos or aquariums...but I know they will always be around. Tough call....

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  112. Zoos are cruel. And the sad fact is that it is we who have made the animals extinct in the first place.

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  113. Hello Keith! I'm quite conflicted myself. I love visiting zoos. As a kid, it was a great learning experience, seeing all the animals in person that I had read about in books. I think if a zoo is taking the responsibility of caring for the animals properly, and joining the cause to not prevent extinction of certain species, than those zoos should be commended and exist. But, if a zoo is on the wrong side of the line, of course they shouldn't exist. I suppose my thoughts align with the whole Sea World controversy; after many hiccups throughout the years, I sincerely think the way they are going about treating killer whales and other animals just for show and tell is cruel and most definitely unnecessary.

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  114. I wish I knew more about the way zoos run and treat animals because the stories are different for each zoo. I would like to think they are helpful in preventing extinction among certain animals but I'm not sure about having animals outside of their natural habitat. I'm definitely not an expert so I don't want to make a decision without being more educated. Thank you for bringing awareness to this potential problem and starting this discussion!

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  115. I, too, have conflicting thoughts about zoos. There is much that zoos do for conservation of a species, especially bigger zoos with more staff, money and other resources. On the other hand, you have these "mom and pop" and at times older or smaller zoos and wildlife reserves that are detrimental to the lives of the animals that reside there. Quality of life that is inherent to each species needs to be recognized. We should not anthropomorphize.

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  116. I know, I know, its been long since I disappeared. I missed all your posts!!
    The term "Bengal" brings lots of memories since I am from Bengal. Zoos without fences are better I guess!

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  117. I think this would depend upon the zoo. I have been to some that were awful for the animals and depressing for the visitors. But some others give the animals lots of open space and good food. Especially the safari kind.

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  118. I hate the idea of animalsbeing confined in cages and there are some zoos where the conditions for the animals are well less than ideal. On the other hand there are many zoos which have high standards of animal welfare and which do a lot of important work in conserving endangered species.

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  119. Animals are meant to be free and I wish they could be. On the other hand, so many of these animals are so close to depleted in the wild and I can't see another way to protect the breeding pairs of animals. People tend to look first at what benefits them and animals are way down on the list of importance. Hell, in this country we can't even protect our wolves we worked over 25 years to build up and introduced into the wild to be free as they're meant to be. We have those who have fought ceaselessly against wolves in the wild and are having a grand time hunting down right now. Same with other big predators in the US.

    There is enough room for both people and predators in this world but that would mean people would have to respect the animal's right to live and see the need to live in harmony with them. Right now I don't see that happening. So zoos and their breeding programs are necessary.

    Many of the zoos are better designed now, with careful thought to the natural environment and offer more room. I like the animal reserves but again, they only support so many animal citizens and protections are...iffy. But at least those reserves exist.

    Zoos are also costly and depend upon revenue brought in and patrons to feed and house them. The economy isn't real healthy right now.

    To be honest, I worry about the survival of our world as a whole. There are so many categories that reflect critical conditions but again, people are so busy carving out a life, profit, and for some, surviving daily, to even take note of, much less care about, these critical conditions facing the planet and ALL it's citizens.

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  120. Living so close to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, I see the breeding program as the only successful option to extend the species and avoid inbreeding. There doesn't seem to many other options.

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  121. Like most things in question, there are pros and cons on zoos. To continue a species, to educate our minds, and to actually SEE some animals that most of us would never have a chance to see all in the pro side. Life is all about balance and caring, for animals as well as humans.

    Another good question...

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  122. I love animals of any kind.. I do hate to see them stuck in little cages. But so many zoos have changed their layouts and try to keep the animals in areas that are made to look similar to their native habitat. I have been visiting the National Zoo in DC. They have done wonderful things for animal studies and breeding..Knowing that so many animals are becoming endangered is the only reason I would visit a zoo.

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  123. I think you should go to the zoo and free the tigers. :)

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

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  124. I'm not particularly fond of zoos with their sometimes crappy conditions. I suppose they are educational and give us a peek at the wilds...a sideshow...I doubt if the animals love it.

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  125. Thought I commented but maybe I didn't... I can't look at zoos the same anymore after we went ever week for a year to the London one and then one of the elephants rolled on a zookeeper, they said it was an act of desperation and depression

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  126. Zoos are great for kids, but some are poorly ran.

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  127. I share your opinion. Little kids do enjoy watching the animals but in my adult years I can see how cruel it is to take these animal from the wild and pen them up. They suffer from diseases and become infertile and they just look unhappy behind the those bars.

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  128. I don't think a zoo is meant to be cruelty to animals. Sometimes it might seem to turn out that way.
    How ever I do not like it when people keep birds in cages.

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  129. i think my views are the same as yours - conflicted. i appreciate the good things that they do and have done. and having children i find it's a wonderful place to take them, where an interest in nature and creatures may develop. i am sure it is because of zoo's that many people went on to work with animals and try to help them, bring awareness and so forth. but with my "magic wand" i think i would make them much, much bigger though. maybe fewer, maybe just fewer animals in each based on the region of where the zoo is located. not every zoo needs an wolf, elephant or a tiger if they aren't equipped for it.

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  130. Honestly, I see no point in breeding the animals if they're doomed to a life in captivity. If they're to be reintroduced into the wild, that's another story, but the truth is that doesn't happen as much as we want to believe. They're just sold to other zoos.
    What's the point of preserving the species in a cage if they're extinct in the wild?

    However, I think zoos are important for instilling a love of animals in young people and teaching about them.

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  131. Los tigres son mis animales preferidos los amo yo soy un tigre me gusta criar bien a mis cachorros ,amo a todos los animales y los zoológicos son importantes los niños tienen la posibilidad de ver estas maravillas,pero, pero a mi personalmente me gustaría que estuvieran libre, libre y libreeee,tienes un lindo blog,abrazos.

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  132. I really don't know. This is a hard question. When we were in Thailand, we loved seeing the elephants and interacting with them. Now I've learned about the cruel training they are subjected to for the enjoyment of tourists. Sigh... I had no idea. It put a damper on our experience. I've loved zoos, but then... now I don't know.

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  133. This is a complex topic. I value the good work that zoos can do in terms of ecology, research, rehabilitation. I also dislike the continuing instances of poor treatment of animals in the name of saving money, keeping visitors happy, or just general human ignorance and expedience. I don't want zoos to shut down; I want zoos to be stringently managed by those who know and understand animals and their relationships to us and the ecosystem. Clearly some animals cannot be in captivity and thrive. It's our responsibility to be humble enough to let them go, or be wise enough to risk the profit margin to make their lives in captivity as close as possible to a natural life, whether that mean larger spaces or more privacy and separation from humans, even paying guests. The past instances of elephant abuse/neglect at the L.A. Zoo were untenable and should not continue to be repeated. If something has to be overhauled, it is us who should pay, sacrifice, and if necessary suffer--not the animals we claim to be shepherding.

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