The topic of zoos is always a difficult one. Do I enjoy them? Yes. Would I prefer these animals to be in their natural habitats where they are able to express all of their natural behaviours? Yes.
I do feel as though zoos can be beneficial. They create connection between people and animals, increasing the likelihood we will advocate for and protect the animals, while also playing an education role. There is a fine line to the education aspect: give meaningful, interesting information in a way that is not overwhelming, boring or lecture like. The goal is for people to leave with a sense of connection to the animals and recognition of their role/importance, not thinking “this animal is so boring”. Is it ethical to put animals in zoos? This is a difficult question. The easy answer is no. Zoos are far from perfect, I know. The animals can suffer seriously, have much shorter life expectancies and spend their whole lives in a space the size they would cover in 5 minutes in the wild. But there’s a problem, with urbanization, our increasing population always wanting more and consuming more of the land scape, where will the animals go? Many of them lack habitat in the wild, or are at serious risk of being poached/exploited. This connects to the conservation component of zoos. While again it would be ideal for these animals to be out in the wild, some are simple at too high a risk out there.
This now begs the question whether there is any better alternative to zoos, which I’m sure there is. I’m not exactly sure what this is or what it looks like but I’m sure the brilliant minds of the world could come up with a solution. I would think with the shift in our society toward more sustainable, green, animal friendly attitudes, we could see this solution sooner rather than later.