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Should zoos exist?
Topic Started: Apr 14 2018, 05:24 PM (254 Views)
AwesomeFrito
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I know it's silly question to ask but I have heard a few people arguing against zoo lately. There are people who believe animals should roam free rather than be confined to small enclosures (like PETA). I believe zoos should exist because they are beneficial to animals. They educate the public, allow people to see animals they wouldn't normally from one part of the world, and more importantly zoos also save animals from extinction. When I visited the Greenville Zoo I leaned about the Species Survival Plan that each species of animal that are endangered or threatened have a plan put in place to ensure there survival like captive breeding programs. Sometimes the only way to keep certain species safe it to keep them in these enclosures otherwise there numbers would decline or they would be hunted until the end. One of the animals I saw at the zoo was the Amur Leopard which is estimated to have a population of around 60 left in the wild.

That being said there are some zoos that shouldn't exist. I am referring to poor countries that don't have the means to care for large animals. These specific zoos try to profit off of the suffering of starving animals. Then there are zoos like Copenhagen who put down healthy animals to make room for others.
What are your thoughts?
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Acinonyx Jubatus
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I AM THE UNSHRINKWRAPPER!

It's my opinion that zoos, done correctly, are not only harmless and ethical but in many cases are actually necessary. Healthy zoos that care for their animals and have the right space and resources are key facilities in wildlife conservation and rehabilitation.

Zoos that are managed improperly, however, should DEFINITELY be closed down. Not only do they cause needless suffering for many animals, but they actively undermine the reputation and good standing of more ethical zoos. The problem is, extremist groups like PETA and the people they influence can't see the difference between these poorly run, abusive zoos and healthy conservation-centered zoos.
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Dwarfbomb
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I agree completely with what has been said thus far. I would also like to point out a prime example of zoo conservation. The Panamanian Golden frog is completely extinct in the wild because of the chytrid fungus, a dangerous fungus that is killing amphibians across the globe, with only a few amphibians having any resistance. The only place you can find them today is in zoos. If zoos had not intervened and rescued some, there wouldn't be any, and now zoos all across the US are breeeding them so they can be eventually released once an effective cure for chytrid fungus is discovered. They recently found a bacterium on another amphibian (I forget the species at the moment) that provides immunity to chytrid fungus, and have been giving it to other amphibians with positive results, but the bacteria seems to refuse to stick to the Panamanian golden frogs.

I would like to point out that some animals should not/cannot be kept in captivity due to lack of knowledge of their natural environments, diets, or simply a need for more space. Tarsiers, for example, have been seen committing suicide in captivity, actually breaking open their skulls by banging their heads on rocks. It's regrettable they have such an adverse reaction to captivity, because many of them are endangered in the wild. Platypi have been unsuccessful in every zoo outside of Australia because of huge change in environment. Great white sharks have significantly short lifespans in captivity, and can only be kept for short periods of time before release (aquariums in California sometimes rescue Great White juveniles and release them).

Others thrive or even live longer in captivity, and in many cases captivity is preferable. Koalas and sloths, for example, rarely travel/move much anyway, sleeping about 20 hours a day. They could care less about being in a zoo. Viriginia opossums live only 7 months to a year on average in the wild, but can live up to 7 years in captivity (and working at a wildlife sanctuary, they seem extremely happy). Many animal enclosures (not all) at zoos are about the same size as an individual animal's home range in the wild anyway. And for animals like komodo dragons and orangutans, captivity is preferable to the habitat they would return to: komodo dragons are exploited by tourism where guests often feed them and sometimes even pet them. Some populations of komodos in the wild are often lazy and don't move much... And with orangutans the palm oil crisis is destroying their environment. Some speculate they will be extinct in the wild by 2020.

If any of the info I have mentioned is incorrect, please tell me, this is all from memory.
Edited by Dwarfbomb, Apr 15 2018, 09:02 PM.
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Posted Image TheYeti
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I completely agree with all of your points. Additionally to the immediate conservation of endangered species, I would argue that zoos are essential in raising awareness of wildlife conservation. People will probably lose interest in wild animals when they are not found in their own environment. When they have never seen exotic endangered animals in a zoo, I doubt most people would actually care about potentially losing these species at all. For many it would be a far-away issue while there "are also problems closer to home". By showcasing animals in zoos, it will affect visitors who, on their turn, will realize these species should not be lost.

I also think zoos are important from the visitors' aspect. For people who do not go abroad a lot, which probably includes most people, zoos are a great opportunity to experience what far-away parts of the worlds are like. Especially in zoos like Burgers'Zoo, which replicates the habitats in which animals thrive, visitors will not just see exotic animals but also experience the kind of environment which they are from. This is more real than seeing the same thing on television.
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stargatedalek
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I'm not slow! That's just my moe!

A lot of smaller zoos also interact directly with local exotic pet owners and farmers, selling some of the animals born at the zoo and in the process ensuring the owners are fully aware of the animals requirements.

A few zoos even have programs where they "loan" young animals to capable owners who then return them to the zoo once they become too large and exchange them for another young one. This helps to alleviate overpopulation of animals that breed readily and have large broods, and is typically done with animals like alligators or large turtles.
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Ulquiorra
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Not to mention that if it wasn't for zoo's, how many animals on the endangered list, would actually be extinct? In an ideal world, there wouldn't be any need for zoo's, but we don't live in that ideal world. Poaching, habitat destruction, pollution, over fishing, persecution, the spread of/introduction of diseases/invasive species, and in some cases hybridization, all of these are having an effect on wild animals, and most if not most of it, has been causes by us.

Also coming back to what Dwarfbomb said about animals thriving in captivity, Orangutans, in the wild females only give birth once every 8-10, IIRC. Yet in captivity the period between each birth is often less then half that, in some cases captive Orangutans have a baby once every 3 years. So when conditions are right, zoo's can make some animals more prolific.
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