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So what do you think about zoos?

  • European lynx cubs at Whipsnade Zoo © Neil Gunn

  • Silvery marmoset at Whipsnade Zoo © Neil Gunn

  • Wolverine at Whipsnade Zoo © Neil Gunn

  • Chinstrap penguin at Whipsnade Zoo © Neil Gunn

  • Cheetah and cubs at Whipsnade Zoo © Neil Gunn

  • European brown bear at Whipsnade Zoo © Neil Gunn

  • Bongos at Whipsnade Zoo © Neil Gunn

  • European lynx cub in a cave at Whipsnade Zoo © Neil Gunn

In my previous post ‘Don’t fence me in’ I put my case forward that zoos were a good thing.

They let me see the fantastic animals in this gallery, for instance. I am concerned that the individual animals aren’t necessarily very happy in cages though. And the argument has been taken further by Damian Aspinall, who said recently in the Evening Standard that city centre zoos should be closed (although he does run an out-of-town wildlife park similar to Whipsnade).

So, now I want to know what you think. Are zoos a good thing? There’s a comment section at the bottom of this post – so let me know! I’ll also try to respond to any questions you have.

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  • http://www.adamlofting.com Adam Lofting

    I feel the same contradictions. I usually leave zoos with a confused feeling that combines being inspired and depressed. They have an important role to play, but the bit that leaves us depressed can’t be a good thing.

    I recently visited http://www.reserveafricainesigean.fr which had the benefit of masses of land, and this was a much more enjoyable experience. For example we drove for at least 5 minutes through the bear enclosure before seeing the bears. The animals can be hidden, and you don’t always get to see everything, but those you see are in something much closer to natural habitat. In many ways, I’m sure that adds to the excitement.

  • Heather Freedman

    I face the same dilemma. I think zoos help greatly with educating people on different species and their natural habitats, conserving wild populations in a number of ways by raising money to help fund conservation projects and also helping keep endangered populations alive with breeding programmes. On the other hand, the animals in zoos aren’t able to act in their natural way as they would in the wild. Take for instance big cats; their natural habitat would we vastly bigger than their enclosures and they would patrol their territories in the wild meaning they would walk for miles and miles which they are unable to do in captivity. Animals in zoos also loose their natural hunting/foraging abilities, which I know keepers try and do all they can to encourage hunting/foraging behaviours but it isn’t the same.

    We have to take into account though that zoos have improved a great deal recently and we are still learning about animals different needs so that we can improve the quality of life animals in captivity have so I don’t think we should judge zoos too quickly.

    I enjoy going to zoos so much because I can see all my favourite animals up close without having to spend a great deal of money travelling to different countries to see them in their natural habitat (although having been on safari in Kenya nothing beats seeing animals in the wild) so I think zoos are good for that purpose as well as educating the public but I often feel very sorry for the animals for being locked away in a climate that they would not naturally be in. I do however, whenever I leave a zoo, make sure I make a donation of some sort to help fund conservation projects for endangered animals.

    And anyway I want to become a zoo keeper so without zoos I wouldn’t get to do the job that I so badly crave.

    • Heather Freedman


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