The Great Zoo Debate


Recently, the Costa Rican government has announced that it will close its public zoos and release the animals back to their natural habitats. This decision put a longtime debate back in the spotlight – are zoos good or bad?

Well, good and bad are very black and white terms, and I believe that zoos are somewhere in the grey.

On one side of the argument, there are many environmentalists, biologists and animal lovers that claim that zoos are cruel places for animals. They believe that no animal should be caged, that the conditions that these animals live in aren’t appropriate and that we must free all caged animals rather than hold on to them for our entertainment.

On the other side of this debate, many people from these same communities claim that zoos are very important and positive for animals. The reasoning behind this belief is simple – most of the animals at the zoo are rescued, injured or waiting to be released. Zoos employ biologists, veterinarians and zoologists, all for the benefit of the animals. They rescue injured animals, or endangered species, and they help them heal, grow stronger and even reproduce. Their claim is that without zoos, many animals would be in danger and even some could become extinct.

Personally, I believe that as long as the living conditions are appropriate and the animals are taken good care of, zoos are closer to the good side of the debate rather than the bad. I honestly believe that zoos, and those who work at the zoo, are more interested in the well-being of the animals, and not their own profit. Also, zoos are an important part of everyone’s childhood. Everybody can remember visiting the zoo as a kid, seeing the rare animals for the first time. If we were to close all the zoos, most of the people in the world would never see a lion, bear or giraffe in person. There’s only so much that screens can do for you, but seeing a shark up close and personal is an experience you simply don’t forget.

So while I definitely can understand the “free the animals” side of this debate, I simply don’t agree with them.



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