Animals in zoos
Is it morally wrong to keep animals in zoos?
The animal rights answer
It is wrong if animals have rights because:
* it treats the animal as a means to achieve some human end* it fails to treat animals with the respect they deserve
* it violates the animal's right to live in freedom
The animal welfare answer
From the welfare point of view it is wrong to keepan animal in a zoo if the animal has a less pleasant life than it would have outside the zoo.
Reasons why people think keeping animals in zoos is bad for their welfare:
* the animal isdeprived of its natural habitat
* the animal may not have enough room
* the animal is deprived of its natural social structure and companionship
* the animal is forced into close proximitywith other species and human beings which may be unnatural for it
* the animal may become bored, depressed and institutionalized
* animals bred in zoos may become imprinted on human beingsrather than members of their own species - this prevents them fully experiencing their true identity
* although animals may live longer lives in zoos than in the wild, they may experience alower quality of life
There is more to treating animals in an appropriate way than keeping them healthy: It's possible (and used to be common) for zoos to keep animals in perfect physical shape, but inconditions that cause the animals to display serious behavioral problems.
Zoos and conservation
But where a zoo is keeping animals in order to preserve a species that is under threat in the wild,and treats its animals in an appropriate way, then this is morally acceptable from the welfare point of view.
Some animal activists argue that the conservation argument is flawed. They list thefollowing weaknesses:
* a zoo may be unable to keep a large enough number of individuals to provide a sufficiently varied gene pool for the species to breed without problems
* where animals are...
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