Should Animals Be In Zoos And Aquariums? Argumentative Essay Example

Published: 2022-10-04
Should Animals Be In Zoos And Aquariums? Argumentative Essay Example
Essay type:  Argumentative essays
Categories:  Animals
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1547 words
13 min read

A Zoo is a short form for Zoological park or Zoological garden and refers to a facility in which all animals are kept or housed within enclosures, exhibited to the public, and in which they may as well breed. Whereas, an aquarium is a vivarium or completely transparent tanks or tanks with at least one transparent side of any size in which aquatic animals, as well as plants, are kept and displayed. Fishkeepers use these aquaria to reserve invertebrates, aquatic plants, fish, marine reptiles like turtles, and amphibians. The purpose of the paper is to discuss whether animals should be kept in zoos and aquariums or not. The question is answered by viewing the different sides and arguments of the issue to develop a definite conclusion.

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Zoos and aquaria have developed to serve as a way to showcase and research animals ever since individuals became increasingly interested in natural history as well as science. Today, these habitats offer opportunities for entertainment, education, and scientific study and conversation to the public (Bellamy, p162). Proponents of aquaria and zoos rely on the fact that they teach the general public, work towards the efforts of conservation and captive breeding, and are useful for scientific research. For example, there are several educational programs at the San Francisco Zoo for children aged between one to seventeen years.

The public can attain education about animals they may not meet and learn about ever through camps, free programs that take smaller animals to learning institutions and family activities that involve looking at local wildlife near zoos and aquaria. Besides, zoos and aquaria can be beneficial for scientific study. Research can sometimes be completed better in these captivities due to the controlled environment of zoos and aquaria.

Furthermore, the use of captive breeding and release in zoos and aquaria helps the endangered population of animals. The Species Survival Plan Program of the Association of Zoos and Aquaria is a long-term strategy that involves preservation of habitat, research, and education, as well as conservation breeding to support the continued existence of endangered and threatened species (Bellamy, p162). Many aquaria and zoos work on local conservation efforts as well to preserve local wildlife populations.

Conversely, many people still believe that animals should not be held captive or kept in captivity. They argue that captive breeding is sometimes ineffective because zoos and aquaria do not offer natural habitats, and they put unnecessary stress on animals. According to several types of research, reintroduced animals exhibit high mortality rates due to the failure to adapt and lack of practical survival skills in the wild.

Additionally, other individuals challenge that zoos and aquaria do not provide healthy habitats for animals yet their well being depends on their environment. Besides, even when enclosures are designed to resemble the natural habitat of an animal, they still are not truly natural. They cannot provide the necessary space required by large animals like elephants and sharks or whales. Animals in zoos and aquaria are therefore under stress due to the unnatural resources (Maynard, p180).

Moreover, animals are frequently bored which leads to aggression by some of them and may lash out at zookeepers or other animals (Tennant, p55). Animals in zoos and aquariums may exhibit certain behaviors that are not encountered in their wild counterparts, for example, tearing out their hair, drinking their urine, self-mutilation, and rocking back and forth. These traits indicate the harm caused by keeping animals in zoos and aquaria.

Arguments for Zoos and Aquariums

  1. Zoos and aquaria educate the public as well as fostering an appreciation of the animals by bringing animals and people together, and as a result, people are motivated to protect them.
  2. Zoos and aquaria save endangered species by keeping them in a safe environment, free from poachers, predators, habitat loss, and starvation.
  3. Several animal enclosures have breeding programs for endangered species which could find trouble getting mates and breeding in the wild.
  4. Most of the zoos and aquaria are reputable and accredited by AZA. They are held to higher standards regarding the treatment of animals.
  5. A good zoo or aquarium provides an enhanced habitat where animals are well cared for, never bored, and have enough space.
  6. The enclosures are a tradition, and families love visiting the places (Powel & Jason, p221).
  7. It is exciting and personal to see an animal in person than in a nature documentary.
  8. Many people believe that humans have little or no duty to animals since humans are more significant, and if keeping animals in aquaria or zoos is to the benefit of people such as educational and entertainment purposes, then they regard it as necessary even if it does not benefit the animals.
  9. Some animal enclosures help rehabilitate wildlife as well as taking in exotic pets that individuals no longer want.

Arguments against Zoos and Aquaria

  1. From the standpoint of animals rights, we are not allowed to breed, capture, or confine other animals including the endangered ones since they all have equal rights.
  2. Captured animals suffer from stress, confinement, and boredom. The intergeneration bonds are broken when some animals are sold or transferred to other zoos or aquaria.
  3. The strategy to breed baby animals causes overpopulation even though it brings visitors who generate income. Excess animals not only sold to other zoos or aquaria, but also to slaughterhouses, circuses, and canned hunting facilities.
  4. Some aquariums and zoos go against animal rights by killing their surplus animals.
  5. Majority of programs involving captive breeding do not discharge animals back into the wild. The young ones are always part of the chain of the animals exploited by petting zoos and aquaria, circuses, and the exotic pet trade.
  6. Extracting individuals from the wild will endanger the wild animals more because the genetic diversification of those left behind will reduce and might face problems finding mates.
  7. People can visit sanctuaries or observe wild animals in the wild rather than capturing them. A real sanctuary is one that does not breed, sell, or buy animals, but takes in surplus animals from zoos and aquaria, unwanted exotic pets, or injured animals unable to survive in the wild (Powel & Jason, p221).
  8. If zoos and aquaria are educating children, it is that it is acceptable to imprison animals for our entertainment.
  9. The argument that seeing animals closely will make children more compassionate about them is vague since children are crazy about dinosaurs yet none has ever seen them.
  10. At least single research has shown that elephants kept in a zoo have a shorter lifespan compared to those in the wild.
  11. The Federal Animal Welfare Act sets up only the most minimum standards for healthcare, water, food, cage size, ventilation, and fencing (Powel & Jason, p221). For example, enclosures should have enough space to allow animals to move and interact freely. Less space can be shown by cases of malnutrition, abnormal behavioral patterns, debility, poor condition, and stress. The violators do not free the animals but are only given time a deadline to correct the violation.
  12. Sanctuaries regenerate wildlife as well and take in surplus exotic pets, without buying, breeding, or selling animals as aquaria and zoos do.
  13. Animals escape their enclosures at times and end up putting their lives as well as human life in danger. There have been circumstances where enclosed animals feed on others.

Adam Roberts, a senior vice president of the animal protection advocacy group, was noted on Good Morning America saying that caging animals is dangerous to both humans and the animals (Taylor, p2). The animals are forced into an unnatural setting and taken out of the biological comfort zone. Besides, by caging the animals to learn about them, people get false information since it is impossible to know how they behave in the wild. We do not benefit, and there is a high risk of attacks from the animals due to the stress factors.


Despite all these viewpoints, I believe that it is wrong to keep animals in the zoos and aquaria. This condition is because if you take a human, for example, to a cage or a prison, they are psychologically affected and may even suffer from many issues like stress, anger, and diseases. Therefore, animals suffer when they are withdrawn from their natural ecosystem and kept in zoos and aquaria. There are more disadvantages than benefits involved in capturing animals and keeping them enclosed. Many people regard zoos and aquaria as important due to the economic value. They earn money when visitors come, but the truth is that it is of more harm than good. The educating factor is vague because if we need to learn about wild animals, then we should visit their natural habitats to study.

Works Cited

Bellamy, Desmond. "Treatment of Unwanted Baby Animals." International Farm Animal, Wildlife and Food Safety Law. Springer, Cham, 2017. 151-182.

Maynard, Lily. "Media Framing of Zoos and Aquaria: From Conservation to Animal Rights." Environmental Communication 12.2 (2018): 177-190.

Powell, David M., and Jason V. Watters. "The evolution of the animal welfare movement in US zoos and aquariums." Der Zoologische Garten 86.1-6 (2017): 219-234.

Taylor, Marc Alain. "Zootopia-Animal Welfare, Species Preservation and the Ethics of Captivity." Poultry, Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences (2014): 1-4.

Tennant, Kaylin S., et al. "Achieving optimal welfare for the Nile hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) in North American zoos and aquariums." Behavioural processes 156 (2018): 51-57.

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