According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, around 800,000 animals are cared for in facilities.
Often, we see that zoos get a bad rep by the press due to claims of mistreatment of animals.
However, many of these facilities hold animals that may not have had a fair chance in the wild.
Zoos play an important role other than being an attraction for humans to view animals. A zoo focuses on reducing, rehabilitating, and preserving animals that are going extinct.
Aside from that, zoos provide an enormous benefit to animal research and studies.
At first glance, many people believe that zoos are only there for people’s enjoyment, but they aren’t.
Instead, zoos play an essential role in animal habilitation and help protect species that are going extinct.
Below, we’ll give you a breakdown of how zoos are beneficial.
Table of Contents
Below, we provide a breakdown of why zoos are a good thing and what benefits they bring.
According to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, there are over 900 species that are classified as vulnerable to extinction.
Without these facilities, rare species would surely go extinct due to human activities encroaching on wildlife habitats.
A study published by Science Advances conducted in 2020 found that humans have caused rapid global mammal extinctions.
Zoos and other animal rescues endorse breeding programs that help preserve rare genetic species and help reintroduce them into the wild.
Without animal protection facilities in place, certain species would perish, and entire ecosystems would change.
So, zoos’ work with endangered animals helps save whole species from extinction.
Here is a list of species that zoos have saved from extinction:
- California Condors
- Black-Footed Ferrets
- Przewalski’s Horse
- Golden Lion Tamarins
- American Red Wolves
Without research, there would be little to go on to understand how species work. Having close-up encounters with animals in captivity helps us understand their behaviors, how they survive, and their role in the ecosystem.
Additionally, it allows researchers to understand how they can help the animals to help prevent extinction or injuries.
Even animals who are never introduced back into the wild end up helping make a positive change for animals in the wilderness.
Researchers can study animals and see what diseases or infections a species may become susceptible to.
With the information found, animals can help those in the wildlife who are facing diseases and illnesses.
By having facilities that help protect and house animals, the general public and other institutions become more aware of issues.
While it may seem like having animals in captivity can be bad, the fact is that most humans wouldn’t be aware of any of these issues unless they hear or see them for themselves.
So, having facilities where they can educate themselves can help with practices, advocacy, and research.
Many zoos are underfunded, which means that the quality of care is sometimes questionable to the public.
However, the animals in those facilities will have healthier lives than they would in the wild. Since many of these animals have never seen the wild or suffered from illnesses or injuries, they would have a shorter life expectancy.
Another benefit of being in captivity is that they aren’t as stressed. Animals kept safe from predators are naturally happier and won’t suffer from starvation or droughts.
This lets animals live a high-quality life by having all the nutrients they need.
The weaker runts of the litter are also protected from the pack. In some species, it’s often the weak ones that get picked off or bullied by their own.
So, smaller and weaker animals can gain protection by being put into captivity.
Another benefit of zoos is that they help support international breeding programs. For endangered species, it can be hard to find mates that can help continue their genetic pool.
Mainly, rare breeds end up in captivity to help protect them from poachers.
By having breeding programs in place, a zoo can help endangered species reproduce. That way, even if the animals are hunted or have lost their habitats, they will still be able to reproduce.
Zoos can help create suitable environments that allow animals to feel safe enough to breed with their species.
There is also the risk of the offspring not making it or being eaten by predators in the wild. In a facility, offspring will be able to survive thanks to medicine and protection from the outside world.
Lastly, endangered species gene pools are becoming too similar and may risk the health of the whole species population.
With the help of zoos, animals who may not have a large gene pool will be able to find mates that aren’t in the same zoo.
This helps spread the gene pool out and allows more healthy offspring to be born.
Animals also face extinction due to hunters and poachers who pick them off and sell their body parts for a high price on the black market.
According to Save the Rhino, more than 9,442 Rhinos have been poached in Africa in the past ten years.
Then, according to World Elephant Day, the elephant population has decreased by over 62% over the past decade.
With rates like these, endangered species will likely be hunted due to their rarity.
That’s why zoos can be good for certain animals being hunted or poached. Zoos offer a safe and guarded area for animals to roam about without worrying about being hunted.
With the help of zoos and sanctuaries, animals can have a safe haven.
Zoos help rehabilitate animals who have injuries or diseases. In the wild, animals will die because they are sick or injured.
Other predators will pick them off, or their packs will leave them to die due to them being a burden.
In these cases, animals will be taken into rehabilitation to heal. Sometimes, animals in rehabilitation will be released back into the wild after healing.
However, some animals will have to stay in the zoo due to never recovering back to their full health.
For example, some birds lose their wings, which prevents them from flying or keeping up with their migratory pack.
Even if the wing can be reconstructed with a synthetic wing, they will likely not be able to survive if released back into the wild.
Therefore, zoos play a crucial role in helping animals that would otherwise die in the wilderness.
They gain safety and get ensured healthcare, a healthy meal, and access to clean water.
Zoos often get a bad rep, but the truth is that zoos help save and protect animals. At the end of the day, if humans weren’t here to help animals in the wilderness, most of the endangered species would go extinct.
Zoos provide a safe and healthy environment for animals to thrive.
So, even if the press gives them a bad rep, they are doing more good than bad. Aside from the animals, zoos are helping research, and the information gathered can help humans save animal populations in the future.
Hopefully, we’ve helped you understand why zoos are a good thing.