Zoos are a great place to go for a nice fun day in the sun. You get to see all kinds of animals that otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see in your day to day lives. So all in all, going to the zoo is a pretty cool experience. For the humans. Animals in captivity may appear on the outside to have a much better standard of living than those in the wild (lack of predators, abundance of food, etc.). And while those are probably all great for the animals, there are often times more issues that develop behind the scenes that most zoo patrons don’t get to see. And while many people say that many zoo animals “don’t know anything else besides zoo life”, the effects that living in captivity on animals are much bigger than the public thinks.


There are many arguments that are often used in protection of zoos. “The animals don’t know any other sort of life” or “If these animals were released into the wild, they would be killed because they don’t know how to live in the wild. So they are better to just be kept in captivity.” There are little bits of truth in these arguments, but their overall message misses the mark. And while it is true that if animals were released into the wild after years of living in the zoo, they wouldn’t be able to sustain themselves and many animals would die; if we get rid of zoos now, then future generations of animals will be able to grow up in the wild and gain the necessary skills to survive. However, when it comes to endangered species, there is a strong argument that keeping them in captivity is a good thing. By keeping them in zoos we do help protect them from endangerment, but once their population has continued to grow and rekindle, they should help be fostered back into the wild so that they are able to live the lives that they are supposed to.


Another downside to zoos that the public often doesn’t see is how being in captivity hurts the overall mental health of the animals. “Disorders like phobias, depression and OCD, documented at zoos, don’t appear to have analogues among animals living in the wild.” says Dr. Vint Virga, who is a skilled and reputable veterinarian who specializes in mental health of animals. It is easy to see how animals might be physically hurt in zoos, with small enclosures that prevent them from moving around as much as they would in the wild, but it is much harder to see the mental strain that being in captivity puts on animals. Studies have shown that animals who are kept in captivity struggle to maintain their mental health because they are biologically programmed to be wild animals. While it seems that having abundant amounts of food and lack of predators helps the mental states of the animals, it indeed does the opposite. Animals have developed certain behaviors that would be useful in the wild. And oftentimes when they are introduced or born into a completely “harmless” setting, it can do serious damage to the mental stability of animals. And while all animals in zoos don’t struggle with mental health issues, it is striking and alarming that zoos are catalyzing the development of these illnesses. 


here is a link to my article i annotated with hypothesis

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February 12, 2018 3:14 am

This is very interesting commentary, Carter. I am in full agreement with you that zoos are horrible and that in today’s humane world, they should not exist. It is hard to believe that we feel the need to establish ourselves as the greatest species by enslaving animals for our own viewing pleasure. Here is an interesting article on this topic: https://www.worldanimalprotection.us.org/our-work/animals-wild/ending-wild-animal-entertainment. Give it a read, and I will look forward to your next post.

February 12, 2018 12:27 am

Heyo Carter!!!
Great topic, great research, love it! I can’t believe zoos are still in existence in the 21st century, you would think that people supporting these places would’ve figured out how detrimental captivity is to wild animals. We need to free them! I’ve read some articles on this webpage that can guide us into saving these animals one small step at a time, give it a look! https://www.worldanimalprotection.us.org/our-work/animals-wild/ending-wild-animal-entertainment

February 11, 2018 10:15 pm

Thank you for sharing about this topic! I feel very very very strongly about this issue. I hate zoos, and I don’t think that they are humane. The animals deserve to be free, just as humans do. Please read the link below to an article that I believe you will find very interesting. Thank you so much for sharing, this is so important.


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