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What does 'good' mean in "good zoos"?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by achilee, 26 Oct 2016.

  1. achilee

    achilee Member

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    Here is an open-ended question to all:

    'Good' means many different things to many different people. People go to zoos with different objectives. Often you hear or read visitors reviews describing zoos as being 'good'. Then how does one define 'good' in the context of a zoo?

    Thanks! - Achilee
     
  2. Ned

    Ned Well-Known Member

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    I'd say that a good zoo is one with good husbandry, good enclosures, is actively involved in both in-situ and ex-situ conservation and also has education programs for people of all ages.
    A great zoo has all the above with a diverse and specious collection that includes many rarely seen species.
     
  3. RetiredToTheZoo

    RetiredToTheZoo Well-Known Member

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    That's a, "good" question.
     
  4. Tresio

    Tresio Active Member

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    The question really revolves around the purpose of a zoo. There are differing opinions, from education, conservation, research, attraction etc.

    Some zoos amaze me with their wide range of plants and vegetation, at ZSL London Zoo I even noticed tall bamboo shoots around the gorilla kingdom.
     
  5. azcheetah2

    azcheetah2 Well-Known Member

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    To me, a 'good' zoo is one that has natural exhibits, animals that I am interested in seeing and works for conserving endangered species, to name a few.
     
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  6. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    A zoo that cares for the animals well, the exhibits are good and physical, mental, and social needs are met. The zoo should also make an effort to promote conservation and educate guests.
     
  7. Zygodactyl

    Zygodactyl Well-Known Member

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    To me a good zoo should have good animal care, a good aesthetic design, a good variety of animals (not just the most obvious, popular ones), and good information on those animals.

    Honestly, I'm skeptical of the conservation benefits a lot of zoos provide. The AZA has a captive breeding program for kinkajous--animals which are not endangered in the wild and are ubiquitous in private hands as pets. The focus usually seems to be less on which animals need to be preserved than on which animals people want to see. And I think that that's a reasonable goal for a zoo. I just think that with some exceptions--the Bali mynah, for example--zoos should not present their husbandry as conservation.

    I wish zoos would admit that the purpose of a zoo is to be enjoyable and educational, and the point of captive breeding programs is about obtaining interesting animals rather than conservation for its own sake. And you can argue that that does have a conservation benefit if it raises awareness of animals people might not have heard of and that leads to more programs to protect the animal in its native range (or better still an entire habitat), but you aren't raising awareness of the plight of the tigers; people already know about it from all the media on tigers out there.
     
  8. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member

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    I think the first priority of zoos should be conservation and the scientific study of animals. Education should be second. Entertainment should be third. Zoos can and should be enjoyable, but I think they have an obligation to present themselves and behave as scientific institutions and conservation stewards, not as recreational centers catering to what the public wants.
     
  9. Zygodactyl

    Zygodactyl Well-Known Member

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    I agree that studying the animals is a high priority. However if zoos seriously put conservation first, they would have a lot more small animals visitors don't care about. However by being enjoyable and educational, zoos can get people interested in conservation issues, and that interest will often last for life.

    Actually, I wish they would have more of these smaller animals and make more of an effort to draw visitors' attention to them, but I'm not sure that that would work for most visitors.
     
  10. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member

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    It's definitely a balance and I agree with the importance of education and entertainment. However, I think that, again, they have a responsibility to put conservation first. Not all exhibit space needs to be dedicated to endangered species, but if push comes to shove, who should get priority? I would rather see philanthropists and corporations put their name on expensive projects that will greatly contribute to conservation work and scientific study, not just box-office mega-exhibits to dazzle the public. Zoos can draw people's attention to "less interesting" animals, but more often than not they choose to spend money on what people already want to see, regardless of whether that is the best use of their grant money.
     
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  11. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    The simple answer is that a good zoo recruits, employs and retains good people. Of course, the same thing can be said about a good army or a good bank or a good college and so on.

    To work out a more constructive answer to this question, I imagined myself walking into a zoo that I have never visited before. What am I looking for?

    Healthy animals
    Well maintained enclosures
    Animals kept in appropriate social groups with some successful breeding
    Interesting range of species
    Well designed enclosures (size, furniture, viewing)
    Good facilities for public (car parks, footpaths, maps & signs, toilets, food outlets)
    Obvious commitment to conservation and education (talks, signage, guidebooks etc)
    Attractive surroundings (exhibits, gardens etc)
    Links to conservation projects around the world

    I have put these in approximate order of significance, in my opinion. I think they are appropriate for all sizes and types of zoo, although obviously they need to be interpreted in context: for example the Chestnut Centre is a collection of otters, owls and native species - but within those limitations they have an interesting range of species including harvest mice and giant otters.
     
  12. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member

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    I tend to agree with Zygodactyl and Coelacanth18 on this one. I prefer to see small, little-known species in zoos, rather than animals I've seen several times before. Many zoos spend millions on exhibits for popular animals at the expense of less popular ones, which may be more endangered. Many of the popular animals are not part of a reintroduction programme. Do zoos really need to spend millions on massive tiger enclosures, when people already know that tigers are endangered? The problem with some massive enclosures is that visitors complain that they can't see the animals.
    Planet Earth II includes footage of various species, such as mountain viscachas, that could be promoted by zoos; 'as seen on TV' could be used to promote the animals to visitors. I went to Whipsnade Zoo 2 weeks ago and I was impressed by the amount of information at the cheetah enclosure. If zoos used multi-media displays, this could make visitors more interested in less popular animals, which could be bred and reintroduced to the wild.
     
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