Should animals be kept in zoos?

Every twenty minutes, the world welcomes 3,500 new human lives but loses one or more of an entire plant or animal species. About 27,000 different species are lost each year, according to the African Conservancy. But special places like conservation areas and zoos are homes to species that are endangered. It’s not every day we get to witness a tigress with her cubs, polar bears swimming together or a group of monkeys playing together, but zoos give us that opportunity. All children have a love for animals and trips to the zoo are always fun. Seeing animals that were from originally from Africa, Asia and other continents is fascinating. As a child, you don’t question why the animals are there on display. But with age and knowledge, people start to realize that zoo animals are forced to live in smaller areas than they’re used to and the animals have also been taken away from their natural habitats. Although it’s a thrill for people to see animals up-close, zoos are not the best choice for them.

In order for animals to live comfortably while being in captivity, zoologists need to first understand their needs. Looking further into the difference of zoos and conservation areas in Africa could help benefit zoos here in Canada and North America, but only if they take some advice on what the animals need.

Wild animals kept in zoos are not your everyday pets. They are a lot more demanding. Zoo animals eat a lot more, need a bigger space to live in and hide. They must also maintain an active and healthy sex life. It is common for animals to migrate from where they were first born to another location to find a mate, says Greg Yarrow, a Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Wildlife Specialist from Clemson University. The problem is that animals aren’t able to do this when they’re trapped inside enclosures at zoos.

One tip zoos can take away from conservation areas is to create more opportunities for people to learn about the animals rather than just putting them on display. Conservation areas like the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park have their wildlife living in a comfortable environment where they’re able to roam freely and hide, if needed. Conservation areas also help protect animals from trophy hunters: hunters who seek out the most mature wild animal they can find. They are proud to display their new trophy prize once the animal is hunted and killed.

A charity in Africa called “zsea”, which stands for Zoological Society of East Anglia, came up with the goal to secure the future for Banham Zoo located in Africa. Zsea plans to advance their roles in wildlife and environment conservation, education, and animal welfare. Zsea encourages interest and enthusiasm in the study of animals and other wildlife. Zsea also has zoological garden exhibitions for guests. A project the zoo has supported since 1993 is AEECL The Lemur Conservation.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is a well-known animal rights organization. They have been around for 54 years and concentrate on specific places for conservation like tropical rain forest, coral reefs, fishing grounds and more: all places that are home to endangered species. They protect these places by working with the fisheries industry to reduce overfishing. The WWF wants tropical places like the Galápagos to use tourism as a conservation tool for the animals by welcoming tourist to see exotic animals.

In Ontario the Toronto Zoo is part of a conservation, education and research facility. They do a lot of conservation work. One of their most recent jobs was the new hard-carved and colourfully painted exotic animal Conservation Carousel. For just $3 a ride, people can hop on the carousel and hear about endangered animals. The ride shares messages on screens that help educate guests. The zoo also has breeding programs for the sole purpose of sending the animals back into the wild. There is a protected off-site area where the animals are kept in quarantine for breeding then sending back into the wild.

Zoos should be more observant of conservation areas and they should also teach people to admire animals and wildlife. Despite the minor education at zoos, it would be more worthwhile for patrons to see the animals actually living in the environment that is written about outside of their enclosures.

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Amanda Ramlal is a second-year journalism student at Durham College. When it comes to writing and reporting, she enjoys covering events, news and entertainment stories. She likes to spend her spare time taking photos, going to concerts and traveling. Amanda hopes to work for a lifestyle magazine following graduation.