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Should Animals be kept in Zoos? Essay

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This essay explores the dilemma of keeping animals in zoos. In this essence, the legitimacy of restricting the animals is investigated.

Moreover, the essay seeks to establish harmony between advocacy for abolition of zoos and the need to preserve some species of animals. In addition, there is the necessity to control the interaction between animals and human beings.

I have observed that there is no solution to such dilemmas. Any observer has to establish a middle ground and maintain balance between the arguments. This is because it is not possible to take a radical action on the issue at hand.

I had an experience of arguing over the issue, which has two equal sides while writing the paper. I was able to examine both sides of the argument and analyze the arguments.

While it seemed appropriate to me that people should keep animals in the zoos prior to this assignment, my perception changed after analyzing both sides of the argument. I had to take a middle ground and analyze the perceptions as a neutral observer.

When writing the arguments in the paper, it became difficult to make an objective analysis of the arguments due to the influence of personal opinion. It is difficult to establish a middle ground that does not favor either side.

The topic of the essay generates significant interest in me because most people assume that animals have their specific places in the ecosystem, which are subject to manipulation by human beings at will.

On the other hand, liberal people advocate that fair competition can exist between animals and people naturally. This article proves that neither case is entirely true.


Throughout the history of humanity, interaction with animals has been inevitable. Superiority of human beings has made them highly competitive. Other living things have to adapt to new environments or leave their natural habitat to create space for human beings and their activities.

The human population is evenly distributed around the world. On the other hand, animal population is partially distributed, with different species occupying different parts of the world. Since animals have always fascinated people, there has always been the urge to observe animals and their behavior.

In addition, all living organisms on earth survive through competition for resources with each other (McKinley & Shepard 65). This has led to endangerment of some species of animals. Generally, animals are considered important to human beings, regardless of the material value of each species.

Gradually, it has become important to protect animal species that are facing the danger of extinction, either due to encroachment of their immediate space in the ecosystem, or due to competition with other organisms whose lives depend on common resources.

For this reason, zoos have been built, and animals are kept inside for the sole purpose of preservation of animal life or for entertainment (Norton 42). It is true that the zoos protect a small number of animals from the competition that exists in their natural habitat.

In this way, they protect the species from extinction, and satisfy human being’s curiosity as people go for sightseeing at zoos as a recreational activity (Norton 21).

Most zoos keep wild animals, and majority of the animal population at the zoos is made up of animals that are rarely seen by human beings in their immediate environment. These animals are used to roaming in the jungle and forests.

Others are used to swimming freely in the seas and rivers. However, due to limited space, zoos keep the animals in a much smaller and controlled environment. Obviously, there is restriction of freedom for the animals in order to contain them in the zoo.

For most of their lives, the animals in the zoo do not lead a normal life like other wild animals. They are protected from the competition in the ecosystem due to their perceived importance to human beings. However, this is a serious impediment to their freedom too.

Animals are not allowed to roam freely during the day or night, as they would have done in a free environment. On the other hand, the rigors of competing with other wild animals are eliminated from their lives.

Moreover, the animals receive special treatment as they are provided with veterinary care, a service that other animals in the jungle and sea do not normally get (Robinson 53).

It is arguable that the setting of a zoo is analogous to a prison were felons are incarcerated to protect the society from their potentially harmful tendencies.

One might easily conclude that the animals in the zoo are in some kind of psychological distress due to disruption of their normal course of life and their detainment.

This view assumes that animals, like human beings, have the ability to discern the importance of freedom. Furthermore, the notion argues that animals have thoughts and feelings just like human beings.

It is difficult to establish these arguments as facts due to the limited emotional interaction between animals in the zoo and their keepers.

Thus, the idea that animals perceive physical freedom in a similar way as human beings is subject to debate (Mullan & Marvin 75).

Zoos are not primarily intended to curtail the freedom of an animal, but are designed to protect the animal from harsh environment. Normally, there are efforts to create an environment similar to the particular animal’s habitat in the zoo.

It is also difficult to assess whether the artificial environment created by zookeepers is identical to the natural habitat suitable for the animals.

This observation means that it is not entirely true that the zoos are aimed at curtailing the freedom of the animals (Brooman & Legge 85). Consequently, the animals may be better off at the zoo.

Moreover, it is not true that zoos completely change the normal course of life for the animals within it since there is an effort to simulate their natural habitat.

Some people are of the opinion that animals are inferior to human beings. This suggests that zoos are meant to restrict the animals within the zoo environment to protect human beings’ interest.

Some animals are dangerous to human life, while others compete against human being for resources. This is an obvious observation that has been under scientific study.

On the other hand, animals could be perceived to be equal to human beings. This means that the animals can compete for resources fairly against human beings.

Some people use this perspective to argue against establishment of zoos, which in their perspective, are the making of an unfair competition between animals and human beings.

The highlighted perceptions and observations present the dilemma of the existence of zoos. In a critical analysis of all radical perceptions, no single argument is proved entirely appropriate for the issue of zoos.

If zoos were to be eliminated as a way of protecting and preserving animal life, there would be dire consequences for humans and the animals themselves (Acampora 45).

It is an obvious observation that some animals would become extinct due to predation and competition from other animals in the natural habitat. People could also be affected by the interactions and conflicts between the animals and human beings.

While some animals would pose direct danger to human beings, others would affect the creations of human beings such as organized agriculture. It is thus obvious that a conflict will result from the freedom of animals.

However, this presents another question for argument since there is fairness in sharing of natural resources by living organisms in such a situation.

Although a relatively small number of animals are kept in the zoo, majority of animals are free and live in the wilderness. This brings up the issue of the scale of restriction of animals within zoos.

Keeping all animals in the zoo and eliminating them from their natural environment is an extreme action. This kind of an action would present a situation of extreme interference with nature. It is only logical that a balance between freedom of animals and existence of zoos has to be established.

Animals could be kept in an open environment that is similar to their natural habitat as much as possible. This would eliminated the problem of having animals in a zoo were cages similar to prison cells are used to contain the animals.

On the issue of competition, it would be unfair to let animals live free and compete against human beings in the natural environment. People would eliminate animals from the ecosystem due to their superiority in terms of logical reasoning.

This makes it necessary to provide some kind of protection for the animals. In this essence, zoos can neither be justified nor completely denounced.

Works Cited

Acampora, Ralph R.. Metamorphoses of the zoo: animal encounter after Noah. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2010. Print.

Brooman, Simon, and Debbie Legge. Law relating to animals. London: Cavendish, 1997. Print.

Mullan, Bob, and Garry Marvin. Zoo culture. 2nd ed. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999. Print.

Norton, Bryan G.. Ethics on the ark: zoos, animal welfare, and wildlife conservation. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995. Print.

Robinson, Phillip T.. Life at the zoo: behind the scenes with the animal doctors. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004. Print.

Shepard, Paul, and Daniel McKinley. The subversive science; essays toward an ecology of man,. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1969. Print.

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"Should Animals be kept in Zoos?" IvyPanda, 8 Apr. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/should-animals-be-kept-in-zoos/.

1. IvyPanda. "Should Animals be kept in Zoos?" April 8, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/should-animals-be-kept-in-zoos/.


IvyPanda. "Should Animals be kept in Zoos?" April 8, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/should-animals-be-kept-in-zoos/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Should Animals be kept in Zoos?" April 8, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/should-animals-be-kept-in-zoos/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Should Animals be kept in Zoos'. 8 April.

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