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Should zoos exist in the 21st century?

 
 
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  #1
Should zoos exist in the 21st century?
Old 06-02-2010

Those of you that know me know I am a Zoology student, and I am currently preparing for a debate on whether zoos should exist in the 21st century, for which I will be arguing against zoos.

My main arguements are that the education can be done without the need for live animals. Conservation is better done in specialist centres (for captive breeding) or in the wild. And that research is better when done in the wild - or at these specialist centres.

I would be really interested to know peoples opinion on this - and to see if anyone can come up with any ideas against zoos that i havent thought of. Facts and figures would also be really appreciated!

My debate is on Tuesday so if people could post before then I would really appreciate it!

Thanks for looking, and thanks in advance for your interest...

Meg

NB. It is not my personal opinion that zoos should not exist - it's just the point i have to debate.
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  #2
Old 07-02-2010

You could point out that the instincts of animals (such as the hunting instinct of carnivores, or the instinct to migrate, particularly in birds) are suppressed by being held in zoos.
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  #3
Old 07-02-2010

awesome.

for what its worth meg - i actually DO believe that zoos should not exist in the 21st century. at least not in their archaic unproductive current form.

i would argue that education is overrated. what does it matter unless the education actually facilitates change? i think the shallow, repetitive and primitive information we receive at zoos is something we all already know. we all know animals are endangered. we all know the environment is screwed. we have known this for decades. people of my generation have known it their entire lives. we grew up with this information. we are yet to have changed a damn thing!

i would also argue that the zoos breeding programs are fundamentally compromised by the zoos primary goal - to provide entertainment. the animals are thus placed in a less than ideal environment in an often less than ideal climate. which is stressful and counter productive.

i could go on... and on.... and on...
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  #4
Old 08-02-2010

then please do pheonix - i am loving your opinions - I too feel the same way, and would love to see a radical change in zoos! Please post back or feel free to PM me! Thanks
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  #5
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Old 08-02-2010

As a mom, I think zoos provide a great bridge to talk about and share many of life's basic questions with my children. As a researcher, I am fascinated by your question about the future of zoos. As a business college professor, I believe the longevity of the zoo as an institution proves that it is an iconic fixture in many cultures and the model of the 21st century zoo is being adopted (albeit, slowly) for their collective sustainability as an industry less about entertainment and much more about conservation. It may be in words only in the majority but there are a few stars that are living it and will have a high impact for decades to come. My wish is that more elevate their standards at a far more rapid pace but it takes money (from the pockets of those who want entertainment) to fuel those changes.
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  #6
Old 08-02-2010

oooooohhhhhhh this could be an interesting debate

First of all what are these specialist collections, and how do they gain sufficeint revenue to exist? If they are open to the public and the entrance fee and other revenue are a major contributor then I'm sorry your a zoo, whether you brand yourself as a wildlife park, safari park, sanctuary or ortherwise your still a zoo!!!

Animal collections have existed for millenia now, and they will continue to exist, but through centuaries and decades they have continued to change, good zoos operate to work towards at least one of the following

Conservation, breeding of endangered, vulnerable or threatened species as part of long term, well managed breeding international breeding programs, biaza, eaza, aza, seaza, etc all need to start working together to continue to diversify existing blood lines.

Education does have a role within a modern zoo, in some cases signs are very basic, old fashioned, a highlighted map of the world, basic diet and other statistics, but stealth educanment i.e. teaching the people that have just come to laugh at the monkeys about the perils they and other species face in the wild, during a public feed / talk is much better then a sign on an enclosure.

Resource, well housed captive animals are useful to scientific research I can assure you there is an fascinating paper about giraffes due for publication soon, which is based on research of captive individuals, but will change the way some people look at giraffes forever.

Recreation, Zoo's are a popular day out for the family, and as times have changed so has the education departments of good zoos, so they have adapted the requirements of the relevant teaching /examination boards into their syllabus.
Public talks are also more indepth and in most cases one on one chats with keepers are equally open and in depth, At least guests will walk away with a better understanding of the way of the world.

we have the animals we have to look after the animals and keep their bloodlines as healthy as possible.

As for non threatened specie, well who are we to say little johnny can't be allowed to see a real life kangaroo or meerkat etc. His mum and dad earn minimum wage and can't afford to take him and his 2 siblings one on world tour to see these things in the wild, but if eye to eye contact with an animal sparks an interest that contributes to its long term survivial surely thats a good thing.

Last edited by easytigger; 09-02-2010 at 02:59 AM.. Reason: shiraz induced typo's
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  #7
Old 11-02-2010

^Now that's a good post. A very good post.
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  #8
Old 11-02-2010

in australia, some zoos are involved in programs working with hospitals that study how people who have injuries or medical conditions respond when they are given time to spend one on one with social animals (ie: dolphins). the health of those involved in the studys improves a lot. this couldn't happen without zoos existing in the 21st century.
zoos exist to entertain kids who grow up to work with animals in conservation and research. there is only so much u get out of watching a dvd or reading a book.
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  #9
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Old 12-02-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by easytigger View Post

Resource, well housed captive animals are useful to scientific research I can assure you there is an fascinating paper about giraffes due for publication soon, which is based on research of captive individuals, but will change the way some people look at giraffes forever.
Great post yet I must know more about this paper on giraffes, where will it be available from, when???

I dont want to direct away from the topic so....

I beleive they should exist, certainly for all the reason easytigger pointed out, I beleive alot of zoo's in the past have been based on recreation but i am definatly seeing change (for example: Bristol Zoos National Wildlife Conservation Park which is said to be based completely on conservation) I do hope it goes ahead!
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  #10
Old 15-02-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by Midlan View Post
Great post yet I must know more about this paper on giraffes, where will it be available from, when???

:
I'm not sure whn its being published it was done by a student from queens university as part of a degree, lets just say giraffe aren't as mute as we thought!!
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  #11
Old 15-02-2010

You could point out that most conservation programs in zoos account for very little of the biodiversity on the earth. Zoos protect the big name, popular animals that people identify with, not stable ecosystems that keep really keep the environment going.

Your biggest program for your argument is the education and work that zoos put into their community and also some parts of the world, as this is probably what the real value of zoos comes from. You could try to say that most zoos don't do this as well as they should. Good Luck!

EDIT: Never mind, your debate has already passed hasn't it? Hope you did well. xD
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  #12
Old 15-02-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by Otter Lord View Post
You could point out that most conservation programs in zoos account for very little of the biodiversity on the earth. Zoos protect the big name, popular animals that people identify with, not stable ecosystems that keep really keep the environment going.

Your biggest program for your argument is the education and work that zoos put into their community and also some parts of the world, as this is probably what the real value of zoos comes from. You could try to say that most zoos don't do this as well as they should. Good Luck!

EDIT: Never mind, your debate has already passed hasn't it? Hope you did well. xD
Yeah, big name animals like oh I don't know, the Puerto Rican crested toad, the Kinshaha spray toad, the Chircuahua leopard frog, mountain yellow-legged frog, Kanab amber snail, southern Idaho ground squirrel, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit, western pond turtle, narrow-headed garter snake, Key Largo woodrat, peninsular pronghorn...

I do realize you were trying to help the OP make a point in a school debate, but the argument you use is one I hear oft-repeated but don't agree with. Zoos do do "conservation" work with captive breeding of tigers, elephants, pandas etc... but most also do REAL conservation work with threatened or endangered species that are NOT the big money animals. Many zoos try to focus their conservation work on areas where they can do the most good, native species.
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  #13
Old 15-02-2010

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Originally Posted by Ituri View Post
Yeah, big name animals like oh I don't know, the Puerto Rican crested toad, the Kinshaha spray toad, the Chircuahua leopard frog, mountain yellow-legged frog, Kanab amber snail, southern Idaho ground squirrel, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit, western pond turtle, narrow-headed garter snake, Key Largo woodrat, peninsular pronghorn...

I do realize you were trying to help the OP make a point in a school debate, but the argument you use is one I hear oft-repeated but don't agree with. Zoos do do "conservation" work with captive breeding of tigers, elephants, pandas etc... but most also do REAL conservation work with threatened or endangered species that are NOT the big money animals. Many zoos try to focus their conservation work on areas where they can do the most good, native species.
Indeed. And beyond that - efforts to conserve one species will generally help others - even if a zoo is only fundraising to help tigers (say) that'll still have a knock-on benefit to many other species in the same habitat.
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  #14
Love real animals. TV & Photos will not do it.
Old 15-02-2010

As a very young child I lived by a zoo and my mother took me there almost daily possibly as a result I love animals and feel very connected to them.
I suspect that most of the people that work hard to protect animals, work in animal welfare organisations and support wild life preservation have been to a zoo or wild life park and looked into the eyes of one or other of these wonderful animals and felt a connection that they could never experience on “the box”. We are in danger of taking the real out of real life.
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  #15
Old 17-02-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ituri View Post
Yeah, big name animals like oh I don't know, the Puerto Rican crested toad, the Kinshaha spray toad, the Chircuahua leopard frog, mountain yellow-legged frog, Kanab amber snail, southern Idaho ground squirrel, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit, western pond turtle, narrow-headed garter snake, Key Largo woodrat, peninsular pronghorn...

I do realize you were trying to help the OP make a point in a school debate, but the argument you use is one I hear oft-repeated but don't agree with. Zoos do do "conservation" work with captive breeding of tigers, elephants, pandas etc... but most also do REAL conservation work with threatened or endangered species that are NOT the big money animals. Many zoos try to focus their conservation work on areas where they can do the most good, native species.
I do understand that zoo's are a great catalyst for conservation, but I was just trying to make a point for a debate. I do think Zoos should be around in the 21st century, and I understand and agree with both yours and Maguari's points. My point for the arguement is that, in perspective, these conservation efforts do not account for all the habitats and the 1.8 million identified species on earth.

To explain my point further, each Zoo tends to have a handful of not-big money animals that it protects. And if you count up all the animals that zoos have conservation efforts for, this is not a majority of the species on earth. This could be connected with some the success stories for zoos, (Arabian Oryx, Black-footed Ferrests, Whooping cranes, California Condors) where most of these are still dependent on conservation and are only a single species. Though these examples certainly do help in conservation, but they don't account for all of successes in conservation. This I think would have made a good case in Meg-T's argument because it really makes you question how much zoos are worth towards conservation.

Sometimes when you think of cases for an argument that you don't believe in, you tend to take a blind eye for some of the various factors. Maguari's point is one of those. Also, some of a zoo's conservation work comes from education too. Asking people to recycle, turn of lights when not in use, properly dispose of trash, etc. does, to some degree, help in conservation. People working in conservation fields have also probably been inspired to their field by zoos.
 


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