The Ethics of Zoos


Jakson Combs

A giraffe approaches sophomore Jakson Combs at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a zoo contained within the park..

Zoos are park-like spaces where mostly un-likely animals are held in captivity both for our enjoyment and for their safety. Zoos are a good thing to have in our society.

Since before 2500 B.C., zoos have been places for people to go and have fun. Zoos have shown to be successful enough to still be something that is visited to this day.

A Baobab tree, also known as the tree of life, is off the path of the safari at Animal Kingdom. (Jakson Combs)

Zoos are normally seen as fun places to take your whole family. They normally have different foods and activities to go along with the exotic and exciting feel, such as cotton candy or corn dogs. They will often have rides that are made to showcase the zoo or just be fun.

In cases such as the melting of the homes of many Antarctic and cold environment animals such as polar bears, zoos are a good thing for them because they can help those animals to get away from their fading environment and enter one that simulates what they are used to. Along with their attitudes about helping endangered animals, zoos have also spent over twenty-five million dollars on research for four hundred and eighty-five different animal species.

“Last year, in October, I went to the zoo. It was the day of last year’s variety show,” sophomore Jackson Combs said. “I enjoy zoos. I like looking at animals that I wouldn’t be able to see normally. 

Human trash has been a recurring issue for the animal kingdom.  People throw their trash into enclosures and the wild is known for harming many animals every year.

“I dislike how people throw things into enclosures, and I feel like it’s unnecessary,” Combs said. “Just a lot of trash.”

Two zebras eat in the middle of their enclosure at Animal Kingdom. (Jakson Combs)

While the environment is slowly becoming less habitable for animals of all types, zoos are becoming more than a place of enjoyment but also a place for animals in danger to go and live safely.

“I think the zoos perfectly accommodating for me,” Combs said. “I feel like the size of the enclosures is a problem because no matter how much space you give them it will never compare to what they had in the wild. I believe that zoos should exist.”

Some reasons that people may feel like zoos are a bad thing are the fact that some of these animals were taken from their environment without any good reason, however, when there is a reason, it is often to save that animal. Many of the enclosures in small zoos are not large enough to adequately keep their animals happy, let alone the effect they have on animals’ emotional and physical health, but while the space may be a bit small they are supplied with multiple other means to keep them happy. Zoos, like many other attraction parks, are often overpriced, the most notable of these items are the tickets or the food. Some zoos even require you to pay to use the bathroom, but these fees are used mostly to keep their animals happy. 

My reasonings for liking zoos, however, mainly circulate around what they can do to help the animal kingdom. All my life, I have loved animals, and I feel as though they deserve the best chance at life, especially if the limiting factor is humans. The animals that live in Antarctica and Greenland that have been heavily affected by the actions of humans are just one of the things that have kept me interested in saving the environment.