There are bad zoos, and there are good zoos. There are zoos with good intentions but terrible enclosures and quality of care. And there are zoos that shine in enclosure construction, care, enrichment, education, etc. Zoos are one of our first lines of defense against extinction and ignorance about the world around us. People can come to a zoo with the only intent to “just see animals and leave” but a good facility will have signs everywhere and enthusiastic staff that will impart information upon and inspire zoo guests. Captive animals in good facilities are not “only for our entertainment.” They are wonderful to see, yes, but they are valuable resources for ongoing research as well as being a living, breathing example of why we need to respect our earth. Zoos have saved animals from extinction, and zoos have made massive impacts in conservation all around the world, as well as just in their own cities. Outreach, education, and teaching environmental responsibility are why I support zoos. Seeing that these animals are worth saving, connecting to them on a level beyond what is possible in a book for most people, that’s what’s important. Captive animals are captive, they cannot be released, and they wont, unless it’s for a specific reintroduction program like was the case with the California Condors. Those that think we can just empty the cages are extreme, harmful, and disrespectful to those who have extreme dedication to keeping these animals alive and healthy.
People always post the pictures of animals in concrete boxes looking miserable as a means of getting across the message: zoos are evil!! They take these photos and hold onto the archaic idea that we still keep these animals in little cells behind bars. There are terrible places that do, yes, but there are also many, many more facilities that are lightyears beyond that. Please don’t base your zoo opinions on this. It’s not forming an educated opinion and it’s not fair to the subject at hand.