The most compelling argument against zoos is the lack of space that zoos provide for animals. Compared to the wild, lions and tigers have 18,000 times less space inside of zoos, and polar bears have 1,000,000 times less space. A study was conducted in zoos across our nation on lion behavior. Lions were monitored throughout the day to see what different kind of behaviors they were exhibiting in zoos relative to the wild. Lions in zoos, on average, spent 54% of their day pacing, which is a sign of behavioral distress. Another study showed that elephants that live in the wild live three times longer than they do inside of zoos. An alarming statistic on mortality rates of lion cubs on further shows how zoos are hurting species. In zoos, 40% of lion cubs die within a month of being born. In the wild, 30% of lion cubs die within 6 months, and a third of those deaths are due to factors that aren’t present in a zoo, like predators. Zoos aren’t the only institutions that are hurting animals however. CIrcuses are also one of the most infamous organizations that are synonymous with animal cruelty. And unfortunately, zoos are helping out circuses. There have been several instances over the past few years where zoos have been exposed for supplying animals to circuses. In one instance in 2009, the Great British Circus obtained three tigers from Noah’s Ark Zoo in the UK. Within two years of the young tigers being brought into the circus, they all passed away.
The saddest part about zoos in our culture is that they do almost nothing for conservation. While they keep a couple animals safe and rescue a couple animals that are losing their habitats, for the most part they are just hurting those animals. A US study was done on how effective zoos were on teaching the lessons of conservation and education on animal safety. After visiting 30 different zoos, it was decided that there was “no compelling evidence for the claim that zoos and aquariums promote attitude change, education, or interest in conservation in visitors”. That same study went on to say that zoos need to be shut down because they are giving consumers false ideas on how the animals are living and to what quality of life they have. If zoos were to have the sole purpose of showing why animals needed to be cared for and how we can help the process of conservation, there wouldn’t be much of an issue. Rather instead we are showing that animals are meant to be pets who are happy to be living in such a confined area. Another issue arises on the topic of training animals. A lot of animals in zoos are trained to perform tricks as patrons of the zoo walk by. They are offered treats for completing a certain desirable action. However animals aren’t meant to be our entertainment, they are meant to be living in the wild where they belong. There have been several cases where zoos have been exposed for using methods such as shock collars in order to train an animal to do a certain trick. These cruelties, and for the sake of animal health, is why we need to shut zoos down.