Are Zoos Ethical?



nowadays in 2018 everyone seems to have an opinion about everything don't know if you've noticed and in my world the world of animals of wildlife we see a lot of different opinions on animal rights and animal welfare one of the biggest topics in this arena is the idea of whether or not zoos are ethical so I thought I'd talk about that a little bit today but before I do that I'll let you guys know I'm currently taking a hike on the urban forestry centers Brooks Trail in Portsmouth New Hampshire and this is a new one for me I'd never been here before it's one of the things I love most about the show is it kind of forces me to explore so the main argument against zoos and aquariums and any sort of captive wildlife is wild animals shouldn't be in cages they should be out in the wild and I completely understand that animals should not be in cages which is why they're really not when a lot of people think of zoos they're thinking of you know that scene on the animal crackers box so the lions and elephants in cages on wheels with steel bars going up and down and no substrate no enrichment and that is what zoos look like for a very long time but that's just not the case anymore I can't speak on behalf of all zoos and aquariums worldwide because there are some countries where the practices are still very immoral and unethical I'm speaking to the cases of zoos and aquariums that are licensed in the United States in you know other developed countries that have better standards of living for these animals so cages aren't really a thing animals being in animal jail is not an accurate description of modern zoo keeping and as far as animals well-being is concerned like I said back in the day things were very different today I'm saying this is someone with experience in the zoo and aquarium field you will never see more thorough note-taking and more elaborate Excel spreadsheets on the health of any animal truly I worked at the Orlando Science Center in the nature Works Department and every day we would mark exactly what everybody ate how much they ate any signs of illness or stress what sort of enrichment they got that's another thing enrichment because in the wild animals are faced with many challenges their food isn't just placed in front of them they have to hunt they have a forage for higher mammals and other more intelligent animals and even the lower intelligence animals enrichment is given to them in the form of you know hiding food throughout the enclosure making it hard to get making them have to work for it giving predators something to chase giving primates puzzles to solve in order to get to their treats it's really cool to see how all of that works unfortunately a lot of the time it's behind the scenes but there are some enclosures that show you how the animals are being enriched especially in primate enclosures you see little puzzles that they have to solve in order to get to their food which I love but adding on to this idea of animals being bored something that humans tend to do is anthropomorphize giving human traits to non-human animals and we do this all the time to do it with our dogs our cats and wild animals for example we see a lion that's in human care lion in its enclosure and it's just laying down and you hear someone say oh it's so depressed look how depressed it is it's so sad at you about running in the wild in reality if that line was up pacing around its enclosure and walking around that's a sign of stress in the wild a lot of the Lions day is laying down so when you see displays of natural behavior that may seem stressed or depressed to us its natural behavior and that's a sign of good health and I could give thousands more examples of this but I instead encourage you to do your research on the topic and find out for yourself because it's really interesting but to kind of summarize anthropomorphizing humans are very safe in the world we are not under the constant threat of becoming prey or having to hunt for our next meal and that frees our minds to have goals and aspirations beyond eating sleeping and reproducing for some people but that isn't the case with animals and it almost sounds mean and cruel to say that animals have no aspirations but it's really affect a rhino isn't laying in its enclosure thinking about man I wanted to do this today but instead I'm inside of a zoo and of course this is speculation because I can't look inside the mind of a rhino but from everything we know that's the case we give these human we put ourselves in the bodies of the animals that are in enclosures and we say oh if I was there I would be unhappy I want to walk around and hang out with my friends and family and I want to go and do things but animals that require play even some animals that don't generally require play are given the opportunity to do so in human care and they're able to do so in a safe environment where their health is being monitored and the other argument is that it's undignified for these animals to be in human care I understand that argument better than all others because these animals have been existing out in the wild for generations and it's kind of a beautiful thing to see them interact with their habitat and to see them survive and thrive and it seems like that's where they belong and it is but the problem is that humans exist in the world and I'm not the pessimist to say that humans are the cause of every problem and should be exterminated but there is merit in saying that we have screwed up a lot we're B'nai vile places we poach we pollute and because as a species we have so many detrimental effects on this world we need to counteract those and the only ones who can counteract the effects of human beings on the planet are other human beings and that's where the two most important factors come into play education and conservation Zoo is originally just existed for human entertainment but now there's so much more whether we like to admit it or not it's really hard to give something the respect and admiration that it deserves if you can't see it in person it's one thing to read a book about elephants or to see pictures online of elephants or even watch a documentary about elephants but to see an elephant in person see how big they are how emotionally intelligent they are to see them play with each other to see them eat to see them use their trunks like another limb in person is this totally it's an unrivaled experience and that goes for every animal so for a seven-year-old kid going to the zoo for the first time and seeing these animals that he's never seen before you could be sparking an interest that leads to a lifetime of conservation work that's what happened to me I went to zoos and aquariums as a kid and I was enamored by what I saw I was amazed by these amazing aliens that live on the same planet that we do so who knows if I'd even be making these videos if it wasn't for zoos and aquariums I could be a real estate agent or some crap but zoos and aquariums they don't just show you the animals they teach you about them there is info cards in front of every species you see there is new keepers there to teach you about the animals in person so there's the education aspect and next is what I consider to be just as important as the conservation aspect a lot of people don't realize that many many species that were on the brink of extinction would not have survived if it wasn't for them being bred in captivity a widely used example is the California condor at one point there were only 27 of these birds left in existence they would have absolutely gone extinct due to human activity if the San Diego Zoo didn't take them in breed them in captivity raised the babies find through trial and error amazing ways to raise these baby chicks and release them back in the wild and now there are hundreds of them the golden lion tamarins another great example these beautiful beautiful primates were on the brink of extinction due to logging and deforestation but small populations were taken from the wild brought into human care bred and now one third of all golden lion tamarins that are in the wild are those that were raised in human care and that is so cool to me because we're cut where we caused the problem our species caused the problem but dedicated individuals put the time and effort in to breed them release them and now their populations are bouncing back so I could talk about this for hours but basically that's my take on zoos and aquariums and why we need them so badly let me know you're taking the comments down below and go take a hike

30 thoughts on “Are Zoos Ethical?

  1. I completely agree with all of your points! It's always baffled me how some people don't know just how much zoos do for their animals. So much time and effort, like you said, goes into mainting the animals health and keeping them happy and it just seems like people overlook that. Some even making great strides with breeding programs that help endangered species! My life is very animal focused as well, I work at a zoo and am also studying to be a zoologist, and something that's always bothered me is that people just don't seem to know much about the topic of zoos and animals. More people need to see this video!

  2. I was prepared to disagree about a lot of it but I agree with everything. I wouldn't be so interested in animals and wildlife if it wasn't for my family bringing me to the zoo as a kid.

  3. Hey man I really enjoy your videos. Only came across your channel today. Watching them now. I hope you don’t slow on and post more videos regularly. Once a week at least. Your topics are on points and you’re not pushy. It’s very informative. Just you talking while showing off your pets or stuff is cool. I can see this channel getting big fast.

  4. Good points. There is a real, underlying problem occurring with urbanization… never leaving the city. People will protect what they love, but they won’t love something they don’t know. Giving more people the opportunity to experience nature, animal species, etc. gives those things a much better chance to become important and gain protectors instead of just being images from a book.
    Thx for sharing!! 🙏🏼

  5. Zoos are vital and I agree with almost all of your points. 🙂

    One thing I hate is the idea that captivity is a necessary evil. It's not. Well managed animals in captivity are happy and healthy. Even if no animals were threatened in the wild zoos would be important. They connect people to animals, let them experience them up close. People don't care much about things they don't have personal connection or experiences with. My love for animals grew from visiting them at zoos and finding them outside in my yard! Research has even been done that visiting animals in zoos benefits conservation via letting people experience them in person.

  6. Zoo's are vital. Ideally, we wouldn't need them. But humans have done so much damage, that we can't just sit back and leave them to the fate that we have forced on them. This is not an ideal world, so we are doing the right thing. So long as we make our zoo's good places, with good care, then it's the right thing.

  7. Meant to put this on public comment. I placed it as a reply to another comment.
    Well, I learned a new word today, anthropomorphizing. Very enlightening video. Never, thought much about the subject. The only real detrimental treatment I've witnessed is the killer whales capture and confinement. Such a large and social animal confined to a small area, seems a bit harsh. These animals seem to exhibit stressful behaviour.

  8. I love everything about this video. You really broke it down as to why zoos and aquariums are so so important for the conservation of wildlife. Thank you.

  9. I want to go into zoology and I couldn't agree more! Zoos do so much hard work and don't get the credit the deserve for the attention to detail they go through behind the scenes in both enrichment, research and conservation. I only disagree with dolphins, whales and orcas. simply because we can't replicate deep and open ocean like we can a savanna for example.

  10. I like zoos but some of the cages at my zoo I go to there are animals with not very big enclosures. Mostly bears and things but also the penguins. I really love them because I can only see things like chipmunks and white tailed deer but when I go to the zoo I can see so many animals around the world! I get to see tigers up close and lions, meerkats and other stuff. Also the amazing conservation efforts.

  11. This is a good topic! I was just trying to explain (literally yesterday) to a hard core “animal rights activist/vegan/animal speciesiest” (as she referred to herself) that zoo’s are fantastic today! She had a very 19th century zoo concept. I explained D.C zoo does phenomenal conservation work with multiple endangered amphibians and that you could visit that zoo without paying a dime if you really wanted as admission is FREE! Her thoughts remained the same and basically all endangered species should die bc we messed up habitats and we shouldn’t fix them. That taking animals from captivity and revitalizing population numbers to one day hopefully reintroduce is wrong. 🤦🏻‍♀️ .

  12. I've always wanted to make a video about this and I really like how both eloquent and passionate you are about this topic. I'd really like to discuss more about ecotourism in the same way. I think there's a lot of negative and a lot of positive in this area which isn't really talked about a lot. 🙂

  13. It's ironic that humans will criticize zoos for keeping animals in enclosures instead if the wild, when we ourselves live in our own unnatural enclosures and are quite content doing so.

  14. Well said, also many species would be extinct now if not for zoos, such as the Guam Kingfishers, Hawaiian Crows, Black Softshell Turtles, and Lord Howe Island Stick Insects ate just few animals that have a future thanks to the great work done by the people at zoos

  15. Amen! I volunteer at the Virginia Aquarium and can vouch for the extensive documentation, care and commitment given to each and every animal cared for there. Without exposure to these animals, people – especially children – would probably not care about something from a wild place they'll never visit in person. Great message, well done!

  16. My mom is a wildlife biologist and has always been on the side of zoos being important, so that's where I sit too. And ugh, the anthropomorphizing point is so important and so often seems to be forgotten!

    Plenty of anti-zoo folks, too, are the PETA types who have a "better dead than a pet" mindset…sooooo. I tend to take that opinion with a grain of salt.

  17. I'm not anti-zoo or aquarium, first and foremost. I simply have some concerns about how they are managed. My concerns largely lie with the sourcing of the animals and what happens to surplus animals. Many aquariums still source animals (mostly fish) from the wild. If they were honest about it, I'd have no problem with it, as I am a reptile keeper and know some species are simply impossible to breed in captivity. However, do to their conservation message, many aquariums let the public believe that all of their animals are sourced from captive environments and are serving to help their wild brethren when this is simply not the truth. As to surplus animals, especially males, once their genes are present throughout the zoo, they are no longer useful. They get taken from their home zoo and hopefully put into another AZA accredited institution but some do end up falling through the cracks and end up in the hands of private owners. Some zoos have even publicly culled surplus animals. It isn't my wish to start a fight about the ethics of zoos or aquariums, I do visit and enjoy them for what they are. I only wish they were more honest and upfront with the public.

  18. Totally depends on the animal and the setting. Is it a tarantula in a tank that doesn't care about anything or is it an orca at SeaWorld in a pool the relative size of a bathtub?

  19. Well put Jason. I wonder about the enclosures with glass so that people can get up close to the animal's, what other people's thoughts on them. I've only seen them on you tube not experienced in person but sometimes with predictors, Lion, Tiger's ect thay seem to get quite worked up at times. Then some of the primates seems to enjoy interactig with visitors. Are thay a benefit for the animal's or to get more people to visit? Or am I just putting my thoughts into animals heads? 🤔🤔

  20. I'm always so conflicted going to zoos and things because I'm so excited to see the animals but always wondering if I'm giving money to people who are caring for these animals or neglicting them.

  21. Wow Jason great vid! I was just pondering this subject because I do want to open my own zoo someday! What are your opinions on captive breeding btw?

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