Should Zoo Animals Be Set Free?

Clarissa Guardado, Staff Reporter

It is debated whether zoos should be allowed to cage up animals or if they should let those animals be free and left alone so they can be in their natural habitat.

In the past, most zoos did cage and lock up animals for pure human enjoyment, but now a zoo’s purpose is so much greater than that.  Today, zoos are doing whatever they can to help save and rescue animals, especially the ones who are endangered.  Zoos also work with schools and help educate the public about the needs of animals around the world.

There are many reasons why zoos can benefit animals and why it can also be the best option. Zoos try to make the habitats that the animals live in as close to the animal’s natural habitat as possible. Previously, zoos were allowed to capture animals from the wild whenever they wanted, but now they are only allowed to get animals from other zoos or get them from captive breeding programs.

Breeding programs are mostly focused on breeding animals that are endangered and about to go extinct, and they help prevent inbreeding as well. For instance, because of breeding programs, the San Diego Zoo was able to rebuild a population of fewer than two dozen condors. In the 1980s, there were only 22 California condors still left in the wild, and thanks to the breeding programs, the San Diego Zoo was able to hatch 187 chicks and they ended up releasing more than 130 condors into their natural habitat. Today, there are more than 420 condors flying free. Because of zoos, many animals have been helped in their fight for survival.

Many animals that are hunted by humans include: elephants, gorillas, rhinos, lions, and tigers. They are safer being kept in zoos because then they are protected from the poachers that are trying to hunt and sell them.

Elephants are one of the many animals hunted by poachers and in the span of three years, 100,000 African elephants have been hunted down by ivory seeking poachers and they have had their tusks painfully stolen from them. The elephants only have two-thirds of their tusks showing, and the third is buried deep in the elephant’s head. Poachers don’t want the ivory that they are getting from the elephant to go to waste so they end up hacking the elephant’s face with machetes and axes and other tools to completely get the tusks. When elephants are in zoos, they don’t risk the same danger as if they were in the wild. When they are in zoos, they don’t risk being brutally killed for their tusks.

There are many reasons why people are against zoos. One of the many things said about zoos is that they keep animals in small, unendurable cages, and animals are also deprived and left bored because they don’t have anything to do.

Animal welfare has improved since then, when the majority of zoos would lock up animals in unbearably small cages and the animals had nothing but a cold concrete floor to sleep on. Although zoos have had a history of doing horrible things to animals and treating them in cruel ways, there are many of them that have done whatever they can to improve the habitats of animals, by trying to expand their enclosures and making them more comfortable so they can rest.

There are many zoos that have activities for animals so they won’t get as bored. Zoos may do things like hide the animals food so animals can practice their hunting skills, they’ll also hide objects so the animals can look for and find.

Although many people may not still agree with the idea of animals having to be locked up and kept away from their natural habitat, they have to see that during this period of time, this is what’s best. Back in the day, animals may have been better off in the wild, but it isn’t the same anymore. Animals don’t have as many options now as they did before, their homes and habitats aren’t as reliable and as safe as they used to be.

There are so many animals that were raised in captivity and because they’ve never known any other home, they wouldn’t know how to survive on their own. Most of them have depended on humans for their survival and it wouldn’t be the best idea to just let them go off on their own, since the majority of animals in captivation don’t even know how to hunt.

Zoos should still be given a chance to show how much they can do for animals and how far they can go to successfully improve animal’s lives.

Animals don’t have to be set free so they can live a better life, and there are many people who complain about zoos and at the same time, don’t do anything to try to improve animal rights.  Animal welfare could still be improved and it’s up to people to try to do something about it and make sure that the animals are in good hands.