I consider zoos to be ethical, under the proper circumstances. Zoos have the potential to be a fantastic way to help preserve wildlife and educate the public about wildlife. Yet there are so many zoos out there that are not trying to help save the future of their animals. Instead, these shameful and sleazy places are only open to create a profit off of displaying exotic animals. I firmly believe that a zoo’s primary goal should always be to help protect and teach people about wildlife while properly keeping its wildlife happy and healthy.
One of my biggest requirements that I believe a zoo needs for it to be ethical is that it must be able to fully support all of their animals’ biological needs. Every single animal on this planet has its own list of biological needs that must be met as best as possible. In my opinion, one of the most important biological needs that must always be met is having enrichments for the wildlife. Enrichments are incredibly important to have in a zoo because they help stimulate the animals behavior so that the animals have a sense of control in their habitat.
While I believe that a zoo must meet its animals’ biological needs as best as possible, I do completely understand that not every animal is going to have completely achievable needs. An example of an animal’s biological need that is incredibly hard to meet is an animal’s natural territory size. Many animal’s natural territory ranges can be extremely large, such as the Clouded Leopard’s natural territory. According to cloudedleopard.org, the Clouded Leopard’s natural territory area can range from about 20 km2 to 50 km2. Since 20 km2 to 50 km2 is a massive area, it is pretty unfeasible for a zoo to have a single enclosure being about the size of a small town.
Another requirement that I believe must be met for a zoo to be ethical is that one of the zoos top goals is to educate their patrons about the exhibits they are viewing. Zoos have the potential to be a very successful way to educate the public about different wildlife throughout the globe because people will care more about an animal they can touch and feel or see up close and in person. Since people would care more about an animal when they can experience it in person, zoos are able to provide that experience to their guests while simultaneously educating them about the issues surrounding those animals.
The issue that I have with many zoos is that they will allow their visitors to pet their animals only to sell more expensive tickets and merchandise. I firmly believe that when a zoo charges visitors more to pet an animal, then that zoo is not truly trying to educate the public about wildlife and is instead only trying to make a profit.
At the end of the day, zoos are a business and businesses need to make money but I truly believe that zoos should always try to be as ethical as possible.
Andrew Chase can be contacted at: