The issue of whether keeping animals in zoos is amoral, and has been widely debated in our communities recently. The treatments of animals at Melbourne Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary published in The Age have raised a conflict amongst Australians again. Some believe that the presence of zoos is inevitable so as to rescue animals from extinction, whilst others are not in favor of zoos due to the captivity of wildlife. If one was to take into the reason why the conservation is not fully effective, the inappropriate perception about wildlife and the ugly truth of the life in the zoos, then there would be no debate.
Australia should not retain animals in zoos. It has been argued that the conservation programs aim to save endangered species from the edge of extinction (Lyons, 2009). The zoos also take part in breeding and funding programs that try to enhance the population of endangered wildlife and protect their habitats. For example, the Melbourne Zoo had raised over $9000 by collecting and resale old phones in order to safeguard gorilla habitats (Dean, 2009). We must admit that these actions are quite effective in the evidence that supporters provide.
However, it must be remembered that there are still difficulties of those programs that hardly overcome. As stated by Whiting, the problem of genetic diversity can be a burden. The idea is that a small population can possibly cause inbreeding with the result of frailer offspring (Whiting). This may well lead to the hurdle in the concept of re-introduction. In fact, captive bred animals often struggle with the environment since they are lack of instinct or knowledge to survive in the wild (Whiting).
Moreover, there will be no so called home for them, as poaching and habitat destruction still remain a threat (Whiting). Supporters of zoos claim that the zoos acknowledge about wild animals behaviors and carry out research that help people to improve their understanding about wildlife. This position goes on to assert that education is a vital component of zoo’s work in which visitors are given information how important conservation is (Lyons, 2009). Nevertheless, after seeing this argument, there is no way we can agree with what they say.
In keeping with Whiting, animals in the zoos seem to be regarded as commodities and that humans are given a justification for “locking them up”. According to the Editorial in The Age (2008), it is clear that animals in zoos are not in their “natural world” no matter how hard zoo authorities try to recreate the original habitats. The animals are living under the conditions that usually alter their behaviours. Therefore, these animals barely reflect what they truly are. Consequently, zoo research is only useful for study for captive animals and is not useful for understanding animals in the wild.
Indeed, research conducted in the “artificial environment” is generally not reliable (Whiting). Zoos are cruel and inadequate for the animals needs. As a matter of fact, we are mammals and so are some species. Thus, confining the animals under metal bars and wire fencing is denying their freedom (Haywood, 2008). This may well mean we are forgoing our right to freedom. On the word of Jassmin, he believes that it is unethical to keep animals in zoos because it is like locking humans in a cage for entertainment and satisfying curiosity (2008).
In addition, poor zoo’s treatment can cause serious harm to the animals. A concrete illustration of this is that the mammal’s enclosure size in UK zoos is extremely smaller than the actual habitats in the wild (Whiting). This is the reason of intense boredom and suffering in the form of some stereotypic behaviours such as rocking, neck twisting, chewing and bar biting, hyper aggression and feeding disorders (Whiting). Having said all that, keeping animals is immoral and pointless.
It is affecting the genetic diversity due to small population and the reintroduction of animals to the wild is almost useless because of poaching and habitat destruction. Furthermore, the reliability of zoo research is inadequate since the artificial environment has altered the creature’s behaviours. What is more, the mistreatment of zoos can be a reason of many disordered behaviours in the animals. Therefore, these zoos should be closed, or at the very least, no new species should be detained within steel bars and fencing.