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How do you generally feel about zoos?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Ty Kuykendall, 5 Apr 2020.

  1. Ty Kuykendall

    Ty Kuykendall Member

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    People who support them would argue that they preserve threatened animal species.... Then the arguments against zoos are mainly
    • "the animals have no privacy";
    • "there isn't enough space for the animals";
    • "[insert species] needs [insert number] square MILES that they can't get in a zoo exhibit";
    • "the animals aren't meant for captive life, so they're miserable";
    • and "too many zoo animals are taken from the wild for life "in cages"".
    What are your feelings toward zoos?

    Support them? Oppose them? Think they're a 'necessary evil'? Think they're good for the most part, but have at least one fault that was mentioned above (or any others you can think of)? Or can you disprove every argument against them that was listed?
     
  2. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

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    *animals should provided with sufficient privacy
    *'enough space' varies between species, the quality of that space is usually more important
    *they travel those miles to make a living. Captive animals don't need to travel that far
    *they are only miserable if their requirements aren't met.
    *animals are comfortable with what they know
    *very few animals are taken from the wild now
    I do hope this is a genuine post and not an animal rights troll.
     
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  3. Ty Kuykendall

    Ty Kuykendall Member

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    Thank you for answering, and this is no troll attempt. I tried to include the viewpoints of both sides; and I figured this was the best place to ask for others’ opinions on the matter (so people can answer who’ve worked in / monitored zoos or similar wildlife facilities, or who really know their stuff).
     
  4. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

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    I agree. Most of these "arguments" are straw men. They should have a torch taken to them.
    It appears that the bulk of the arguments against zoos are based on false assumptions of how zoos function and how wildlife conservation is practiced. An equivalent argument is "When did you stop beating your spouse?"
     
  5. TZDugong

    TZDugong Well-Known Member

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    This is a zoo forum. I don’t think it’s really necessary to ask people on this forum whether or not they like zoos.
     
  6. Ty Kuykendall

    Ty Kuykendall Member

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    Not necessarily just that. It can be about whatever constructive criticisms they may have for common practices (or whatever) in zoos - they can be good for the most part, but still not be 100% perfect.
     
  7. Echobeast

    Echobeast Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    As stated before, a lot of these are weak arguments that even a lot of AR people have stopped using because they’ve been dismantled time and time again. I’ll go through them as if someone genuinely asked me these questions.

    • By privacy I’m assuming time away from the public eye. Nearly every zoo I’ve been to has shelters for their animals on and off exhibit. Most new exhibits at AZA zoos at least are giving lots of space to off exhibit areas. Some of the shyer animals can even get one way glass if the conditions are right.
    • This is why standards are important. Zoos should be and are held to high standards if they are accredited to make sure animals have plenty of space and opportunities. I’ll answer more specifically in the next answer.
    • Animals need large spaces of land in the wild to survive. Food, water, mating opportunities are much wider spaced in the wild which means animals have enormous territories. In zoos, these things are provided in a much smaller space so the animals have no need for wide spaces like they do in the wild. In fact, multiple studies have shown that giant spaces are less important to an animal’s welfare than social and enrichment opportunities. Accredited zoos still need to adhere to certain space requirements but in the long run, space isn’t as important as people think. It’s just an easy thing to see the difference between zoos and the wild so they assume the animal is suffering when the reality can be quite different.
    • Anthropomorphism doesn’t help animals. Giving an animal a human emotion like misery doesn’t help us understand what the animal is going through. Also people generally make this argument after seeing an animal in a zoo for a few minutes. If I took a snapshot of a random American right now, they’d probably be on their butt watching television with a blank expression and I could call them miserable. Even though I don’t know anything else about this person’s life. Most likely they are not miserable. If you take an animal’s lifespan as a measurement of welfare (extremely simplified but it’s just an example), nearly every species has a higher lifespan in captivity than in the wild. This is because zoos give them everything they need and the people that are hired to care for them truly do care about the animal’s quality of life. Humans aren’t meant for a life of agriculture and urban living. We are adapted to a hunter gather society but most people aren’t miserable. In fact I feel most people would be quite miserable if we returned to our “wild”
    • In good accredited zoos, there’s no need to actively take animals from the wild. Nearly every animal in a zoo is either captive bred, a wild born rescue, or a relinquished pet/confiscation
    In my opinion, zoos were not good in the past. They were built for the wrong reasons and animals shouldn’t have suffered in those poor conditions. Today zoos are essential for conservation both funding and for breeding reserve populations. They also are vital tools for the education of our urban societies about the natural world and the plights it faces. There are places called zoos that do not follow These principles and I don’t support them though. When someone has questions about zoos I usually tell them to visit a good one and see if their opinions change.
     
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  8. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Given the pro-zoo nature of this forum site, it may be more constructive to ask specific questions about certain practices or aspects rather than asking ZooChatters about their feelings toward "zoos" as a general concept. You're right that many people can have criticisms about them, but there are so many different establishments across the world that most criticisms won't apply to all zoos... and like a few others have already pointed out, many of the more common criticisms applied to zoos generally are based either on misconceptions and false information, or a very different philosophical perspective than most people on here would have.

    Here's an example of a specific and common (but not universal) practice being questioned; this thread posted last month by @pachyderm pro that produced 4 pages of debate over the course of a few days: The Parrot on a Stick Exhibit (and why it should end)
     
  9. Ty Kuykendall

    Ty Kuykendall Member

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    I figured this was a site for zoological enthusiasts and wildlife conservation supporters regardless of their views on zoos, despite it being called ‘ZooChat’. I guess I overthought the ‘Zoo’ part of the name, and I suppose this would be an inessential thread in hindsight.

    I’ll have to give that a read. Thanks for sharing the link, and for giving your input.
     
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  10. Neva

    Neva Well-Known Member

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    I would like to add a little bit different perspective which I think is generally omitted but in my opinion important.
    Zoos aren't equal and we name variety places "a zoo". Some could focus more on entertainment, some are focus on breeding endangered species, some are in the middle, some are on the extremes. I have visited over 50 zoos yet and I've seen various standards, various goals.

    I think that under the word "zoo" people find varied definition and images. Concrete zoo with small cages which looks like a prison is an image of general zoo from the past, an old-kind zoo and I see that quite often appears in anti-zoo statements.
    Modern zoo has an image of a place concerned on education, conservation with so much natural design of exhibits as it can be done. In reality you can find both kinds.
    To see how zoos are varied, see some pictures of Cabarceno, Tierpark Donnersberg, Prague, Zurich, Usti nad Labem... (I write about European because I know them best)

    People say "zoo" on "petting-like zoo", on zoos with a mission, on zoos with deer, ducks and hen...
    So I could say about my feelings that I feel great with some zoos and I feel very bad with some others.