Zoos provide protective environments

Druw Van Der Werff, Media Editor

According to Merriam Webster, a zoo is defined as “an establishment that maintains a collection of wild animals, typically in a park or garden, for study, conservation, or display to the public.” Would you strip away an animal’s protection and sanctuary in a zoo because of a simple stigma on zoos?  

By their nature, zoos are locations where animals are taken to be saved and protected. Why then are they portrayed as establishments designed to humiliate and degrade animals, when they are made to protect and preserve species? To say that their sole purpose is to contain animals for entertainment and our leisure is simply incorrect.

It’s evident that zoos serve a larger purpose than simple entertainment, and they often facilitate animal rehabilitation. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is a conservationist group dedicated to the protection of endangered species.

According to AZA, they annually spend $160 million on conservation of endangered species. They ensure that zoos under their umbrella are committed to the rehabilitation of animals so they can be released at a later date.

In addition, the AZA has a government affairs team to present issues to Congress and get more animal rights laws passed to foster better relationships with federal and non-federal agencies alike. This helps protect and get better care for the animals in their establishments.

Every year, organizations including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), demonize zoos for their cruel treatment of animals when many of these claims are inaccurate, if not completely false. Zoos have a bad reputation for treating animals inhumanely, and while this used to be true in a few establishments, this has been remedied in every regard.

Zoos protect animals from the detrimental effects that humans and other factors have on their populations and habitats. Lack of nutrition and habitat are a major threat to the populations of endangered animals everywhere, and zoos assist with this by providing nutrition they wouldn’t have access to elsewhere. As a result, they give endangered species the opportunity to continue to survive.

They assist in the reestablishment of many critically endangered species, as well as in the community through educating children and adults on how they can preserve species and the environments they reside in. When people learn about these animals and the issues they face in the wild, they will call for their protection and human intervention to protect and save them.

Zoos not only help preserve animals, but they also give our species an opportunity to mingle and cooperate with other species, thus fostering a positive environment and a much more unified ecosystem. People believe animals lose their rights in zoos, but they have even less rights when they are over-hunted and experience the destruction of their natural habitats.

Zoos act as a safe haven for these animals who would be driven extinct otherwise by poaching, deforestation, or other loss of habitable ground, and environmental destruction caused by pollution. In zoos they are safe from all of these factors, and their rights are preserved and protected.

Zoos are important to protect and save endangered species. So before you demonize your local zoo, please consider what they do to help to protect species that would go extinct otherwise.

Druw Van Der Werff is a Media Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.