The Instigator
Pro (for)
1 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
9 Points

Animal captivity is okay in terms of ethnics.

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Post Voting Period
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after 3 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/23/2011 Category: Society
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,870 times Debate No: 18445
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
Votes (3)




Putting animals, namely large (non-microscopic) organisms in the animal kingdom such as tigers, lions, wolves, snails, etc., in human care is animal captivity. Whether its used for zoos or farms, domesticated or wild animals, animal captivity has been a controversial topic for zoologists.

I believe that animal captivity, in terms of ethnics, is acceptable and may even be beneficial to the animals.

Con will argue the opposite. He or she believes that animal captivity is not a good practice and is inhumane in terms of ethnics.

"Ethical issues involve right and wrong or what is considered good, and what is considered evil in a society." -- Yahoo Answers! (1)

Try to base your arguments on empirical knowledge or opinion rather than religion. Religion, though it may be relevant, is not the focus of this debate.

1. No offensive language.
2. The first round is for introduction and agreement only.
3. When using sources, be sure to cite URLs or book titles and authors.

Each side has 48 hours to submit an argument that is, at most, 7,000 characters long. There are three rounds, and there is a two-week voting period.

Good luck to my opponent.


I accept this debate. This is a challenge and I'm happy to participate. Even though I myself am an owner of lots of animals, I have to disagree with captivity of wild animals and "cash-crop" farms.

In this debate I will demonstrate that "cash-crop" farms contain unhealthy animals that we ingest on a daily basis. These animals are poorly taken care of, which I will show my sources and detailed argument.

I will also debate how animal preserves are much better to observe wild animals than in a zoo. True animal conditions in a zoo are much better than it was fifty years ago and zoos use these animals as research. But animals in captivity have lost their "wildness" (Ex: Killer whales in places like Sea World). While in preserves, the wild still hold their own spaces and way of life little to undisturbed by humans.

Another thing maybe no one takes seriously but feeder fish kids win at carnivals are also treated poorly, they are in dirty toxic water (made toxic by their own dirtiness) and they end up dying shortly after and the kid who wins it is deeply upset. This is just an example.
Debate Round No. 1


Hello, ldellova. Thanks for accepting the challenge. Sorry about the typo in the title. When I said "ethnics," I meant "ethics": I had misheard the word in science class.

Anyway, on to the arguments.


Author Stephen Budiansky points out that captivity is a natural process and can be beneficial to both the animals and human beings. He mentions how some endangered species escaped extinction through domestication.

The most obvious benefit for animal captivity is animal safety. In the outside world where death, disease, predators, natural disasters, struggles for the social hierarchy, thirst, and starvation amongst other dangers are around, keeping endangered species in zoos and farms can rebuild a species's population and increase the health of the animals. After all, food and drink are given on a daily basis in zoos, while animals must spend days or sometimes weeks hunting for it in the wild.

Cats, dogs, horses, and goldfish are all animals that have been domesticated by humans. Most of these species are housebroken, and it has been proved that keeping a pet has its benefits.

First off, service animals are animals that help people with disabilities. You can often see blind people being led by guide dogs. Also, owning pets has been proved to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, sometimes in a better fashion than medication. Spending time with animals can prevent allergies as well.

The playful nature of animals make pet owners less likely to become depressed, anxious, or stressed. This fact is prominent especially amongst children: studies show that young pet owners tend to make higher grades than those who do not own a dog or cat.

Congratulations to Con, who has made some pretty interesting points that I have not thought about before.

Con's main points are "cash-crop" farming, animals losing their "wilderness," and the issue with poorly-kept fish at carnivals.

Sure, I agree that livestock can be found in some food products. However, who says that animal domestication is completely responsible? If animal captivity somehow became illegal, other animals such as flies, mosquitoes, birds, etc. can still be picked from corn fields, even though those animals are still non-domesticated wild animal. Banning animal captivity will not solve this issue at all, and therefore is a very small drawback. Soon, the voters will understand that animal captivity has more advantages than disadvantages.

The "original setting" is "what Mother Nature intended". In other words, it is the state that animals would be in if humans never occupied the planet. Con argues that the "original setting" is preferable and should be maintained. He claims captivity ruins this notion.

In Yann Martel's novel Life of Pi, Pi Patel, the main character who loves zoos, explains that he has heard "... much nonsense about zoos." I find some of his explanations intriguing, so I shall include them in my own words here.

Sure, when animals are domesticated, they have lost their original settings, but does this harm the animals? Not really. In most cases, it benefits them.

Animals tend to be conservative. They stick to traditions and patterns and don't enjoy changes. They tend to stay in the same environments, whether its the grassy fields or a zoo cage, as penguins and deer do.

Many people believe animals are "happy" because they are "free" in the wild. They imagine large tigers running freely through the sun-lit fields. They also imagine a mean-spirited human capturing one in a cage and bringing it to the zoo, where it lives the rest of its life in captivity.

However, putting an animal in a cage is simply a change in environment. Soon, the monkey, as we'll call it, will adapt to its environment and will most likely stay in it. As mentioned before, animals are territorial. They keep to where they think they belong. Even if the cage accidentally opens, the monkey will probably stay.

The definition of "territory" for monkeys is a place for resting, eating, drinking, bathing, grooming, hunting, looking around, etc, and that's exactly what the cage is. In a few weeks, a monkey will take possession of its cage in the same way it takes possession of a new territory in the wild. The monkey is neither happy nor sad about its new environment. After all, the cage fulfills all the basic needs.

What would you think if someone ran into your house, destroyed the door, and said, "You're free, friends! Free! You can run around outside as much as you want!" Would you like it? Of course not, and neither do the animals. Again, animals keep to their territory, regardless if that environment is natural or artificial.

You may think that animals should prefer the natural environment, as it is where they came from. However, many animals are emotionless. They are incapable of having such preferences or opinions. They act in similar ways in the wild as in captivity. Animals, within their natural limits, make do with what they have.

I believe Con may mention that the space in cages in zoos is very small and that, in contrast, the wilderness is a large place to live. After all, what could be better than a whale swimming in the vastness of the ocean? However, space in the wild is present because it is necessary: many animals are living together in one place. Cages simply divide this space up into manageable parts, each part containing one or two animals. Look at what humanity has done with houses. They are simply divisions of a large tract of land that was originally made for multiple beings to thrive in at the same time.

I'm not sure if this rebuttal helps, but any job done poorly should not have been done at all. Carnivals, as far as I see, are the only drawback to captivity. The poor conditions of the environment for the fish is the fault of the carnival-keeper. Still, I think carnivals are a pretty special case. The majority of cages in farms and zoos are good for the species.

The readers should now see how animal captivity has more advantages than drawbacks. I look forward to Con's rebuttal and conclude my section of this round.

(2) Life of Pi by Yann Martel


I have looked into pros arguments and I was quite horrified by my own research.

When it comes to space, pro said:
"However, space in the wild is present because it is necessary: many animals are living together in one place. Cages simply divide this space up into manageable parts, each part containing one or two animals. Look at what humanity has done with houses. They are simply divisions of a large tract of land that was originally made for multiple beings to thrive in at the same time."

Firstly, "humanity with houses" I have to disagree. All people crave for is real estate is space, property and territory. This drive is how civilization has grown into countries, empires, etc. We love extra elbowroom for us to wiggle about. If a billionaire had to choose between a one-room apartment, or a 120-room mansion, I put my money on the mansion.

Also small captive spaces prove to drive wild animals to rebellion and starvation.

"While conditions have improved from the years of bars and cages, detractors take issue with other items. Although the natural-looking habitats are certainly more attractive, people like David Hancocks, a zoo consultant and former zoo director, describe them as mere illusions, arguing that they're not much of an improvement in terms of space"

"Zebras at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. starved to death because of insufficient or incorrect food, and the same zoo's red pandas died after ingesting rat poison"

"In this same article, it says that some animals, like the aardvark, survive on a limited diet that zoos have a hard time fulfilling; others thrive only in certain temperatures and environments that aren't easy to recreate."

When it comes to zoo conservation's attempt for reintroduction programs, out of "145 reintroduction programs" that are "carried out…in the last century, only 16 truly succeeded in restoring populations to the wild."

Another article

Also in the article "Marine Animal Exhibits: Chlorinated Prisons." It says that "In the wild, orcas and dolphins swim up to 100 miles per day. (5,6) But captured dolphins are confined to tanks that may be only 24 feet long, 24 feet wide, and 6 feet deep.(7) They navigate by echolocation—bouncing sonar waves off other objects to determine their shape, density, distance, and location—but in tanks, the reverberations from their own sonar bounce off the walls, driving some dolphins insane. Jacques Cousteau said that life for a captive dolphin "leads to a confusion of the entire sensory apparatus, which in turn causes in such a sensitive creature a derangement of mental balance and behaviour." It says that high chlorine levels in their tanks can have side affects that are highly dangerous for their animals. "Dolphins at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium were unable to open their eyes, and their skin began to peel off." Another incedent is when a tank in "North Carolina Zoological Park didn't provide enough shade, causing a sea lion's eyes to develop blisters and rupture. Oklahoma City Zoo closed its dolphin exhibit after four dolphins died within two years from bacterial infections.(10) Sea lions at Hershey Park won't come out of their pen because they fear the noise made by the nearby rollercoasters.(11)"

"Captivity's Tragic Consequences"
"If life for captive orcas and dolphins were as tranquil as marine parks would have us believe, the animals would live longer than their wild counterparts. However, while captive marine mammals are not subject to predators or ocean pollution, their captivity is nevertheless a death sentence."
"It has been documented that, in the wild, dolphins can live into their 40s and 50s.(14) But more than 80 percent of captive dolphins whose ages could be determined died before the age of 20.(15) Wild orcas can also live for decades—some have been documented to be more than 90 years old—but those at Sea World and other marine parks rarely survive for more than 10 years.(16)"

This is a deep concern for all the animals that stay in captive envirnments.

Example of Incident: Thirty-year-old Sharky died of head injuries when she collided in mid-air with another dolphin while forced to perform tricks as part of Florida's Discovery Cove, where tourists participate in the "Swim With Dolphins" program.(23)

More details PLEASE LOOK!

In conclusion, there are more damaging cons than positive pros. Zoos may help with research but at the price of shortened lives of these animals. Nature preserves are better because it is land that no human can live on so the animals can do what they do best, being wild. It also benefits research because we can look at them and learn about them in their natural environment.
Debate Round No. 2


Hello again. Sorry for taking so long with the response. I had some errands to run.

Con points out the following:
1. Animals and humans both enjoy more space.
2. The poor living conditions in zoos results in some animal deaths.
3. Emulating the exact natural conditions of an animal can be challenging and is sometimes done incorrectly.
4. Humanity has caused the deaths of many animals in different ways.

Poor living conditions and low space composes about 70% of Con's arguments. Therefore, it will be my first priority to counter these. Con also points out some specific incidences where captivity has caused animal troubles.

The Issue with Space
Although it is obvious that most humans prefer increased living space, most of us don't have a choice. Con states "If a billionaire had to choose between a one-room apartment, or a 120-room mansion, I put my money on the mansion." Notice how he says "if a billionaire...". It is a widely known fact that the majority of earth's population is not comprised of billionaires. Therefore, most of us live in smaller houses because it's the best we can find. This fact is true in the animal kingdom as well. If a species overextends its territory, it will invade the space of potential predators. Some animals "mark their territory" by urinating on the ground. They must choose a limited space because they have to. Sheep usually have a territory space of 1 to 3 square miles, which is about the same as a good domestication farm.

Poorly Living Conditions from Zoos
Sure, there are poorly-kept zoos around the world, but that doesn't mean every single one is poorly-kept. "It is true that there have been zoos treating animals in a cruel manner. However, there is continuous improvement in their manner of working. It won't be fair to shut down all the zoos for mistakes committed by few in the past. With reforms being brought about in this sector, animals are provided with proper diet and enough space." (Source:

I'm not sure if it helps, but there was a movie released just recently called "Dolphin Tale". I haven't watched it, but the commercials claim it is about a boy who finds a dolphin without a tale. He rescues the poor creature and keeps it in human care until it rehabilitates. The commercials claim the movie to be "based on a true story."

Emulation of Natural Environments
Zookeepers do their best to get the most natural-looking environments for their animals. The technology for it isn't perfect yet, but the great thing about technology is that it evolves. Scientists are close to finding ways to add wind and water currents and weather conditions to swimming pools. Just wait a few years, and you'll be surprised.

Humanity Sins
Almost anyone would agree that humanity is responsible for an imbalance in the animal kingdom, but most of that comes from pollution and consumption. Humans consume massive amounts of fossil fuels daily for transportation and manufacturing. Pollution, such as smoke, all stop the balance of life. If we were to release all animals from captivity, what good will it do? We'd be letting them out of their safe cages to the oil-spilled oceans and landfilled fields. Not to have a negative tone here, but I just want to get across that captivity is a very small portion of life imbalance.

These are just a few points I thought of after round 2.

With a rise in demand of animal-made products such as skins, ivory, and supposed medicinal purpose, zoos keep animals in a safe haven away from hunters and gatherers. A buffalo in a zoo stops it from being hunted down for its leather skin.

"Today's zoos put more emphasis on educational and conservation purpose than mere recreation. Many schools visit zoos to know more about endangered species and the ways to conserve them. Zoos are in fact, trying to make people aware of their ecology."

Although it is true that our technology and living conditions in our zoos is imperfect, things keep changing. Improvement by improvement, someday, all will agree that animals belong in captivity. Until then, our current system is good enough, and it should be clear to the voters that the Pros of animal captivity outweigh the cons.

Good luck to the contender in the last round. It was a thrill debating with you.


This debate was quite interesting, and I stand by what I said.

1. one of the reasons that there are zoos is to study animal behavior in a controlled environment. But over the years, there are accidents like mistakes in controlled environments (food, medicine, space, etc.) that can hurt the animals. Pro argues that zoos and captivity are ment to perserve endangered animals from going into extinction. But when a wild animal stays in a controlled environment, it will lose its "wildness" and hopes for rehibiliatation are slim to none.

2. The simple solution is to give the animals their environment back. Preserving land instead of building a mall will save the ecosystem. Man and Animal want the same thing...SPACE and land. If we hold on to nature perserves and national parks, we are not only helping science understand animal behavior, but they are protected from extinction. Laws against hunting and poaching in national parks are strict but unfortunately there are loop holes and the law over looks these innocent, and helpless creatures.

It is inhumane for animals to be kept under captivity like zoos and waterparks, just for the sake of our amusement. They have the right to roam free.

Pro also mentioned that some species in the animal kingdom do not go further than 3 miles from their birthplace. I disagree. Species like salmon, birds, gorillas, buffalo, deer, wolves, bears, sharks, and whales (just to name a few) migrate all over the world to find homes, food and water. If we limit their resources, all our efforts to preserve them from going instinct will be in vain and futile. We are not too late, preserve the land that was made for all of us.
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by 000ike 5 years ago
PRO, can I debate you on this topic as well?
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
Pro should have elaborated on how captivity saved certain species from extinction, a claim he makes in the initial round. In fact, that should have been his central argument.
Posted by shooterboss 5 years ago
Again, sorry about the typo in the title.
Posted by wjmelements 5 years ago
The resolution is clearly about slavery.
Posted by innomen 5 years ago
Talk about typos. This will be an uphill battle for pro. It has been my experience that taking an unpopular position requires super powers in debate to win.
Posted by sadolite 5 years ago
I have to admit my logic could be considered flawed on this one. There are food animals and then there are all the rest.

Food animals don't count in my book, they were put here for us to eat. Virtually all the rest are predators and scavengers and not worth eating. They exsist to kill of the weak and deformed and clean up the mess after we are done eating.

Predators by their very definition do not belong in captivity.

Then we have all those other grazers we don't eat monkeys,giraffes, elephants, etc. Seed spreaders.

Every animal has a purpose in nature. Looking at them in confined spaces or cages isn't one of them. Rescuing an injured animal is messing with the food chain and mother nature. If an animal goes extinct, it was meant to. Funny how I am told everything must change. Except when it comes to the environment. That must remain static and preserved in it's present form at all costs even if it means the mass extermination and starvation of humanity.
Posted by Cerebral_Narcissist 5 years ago
It made me smile!

Ethnics =/= Ethics.
Posted by OMGJustinBieber 5 years ago
This debate is so win.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by dappleshade 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Con pointed out that all animals prefer space, which was never really dealth with by Pro. Pro neglected the saving of endangered species and the use of zoos in publicity for funding.
Vote Placed by 000ike 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I was disappointed that CON did not ever mention that human beings are intelligent life forms that act upon that intelligence, and PRO's comparisons are therefore fallacious. This would have been a fast route to destroying the affirmative case. Nevertheless, CON did sufficiently negate the resolution, and I found myself seeing too many holes in PRO's argument. Great debate :)
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's arguments about territory and analogies with human houses aren't relevant because humans have the freedom to leave anytime they choose. A real comparison would be between zoos and prisons. Con presented enough unrefuted evidence of shortened life spans and other and other problems faced by animals in zoos to win this debate. Personally I was intrigued by Pro's argument that captivity saved animals from extinction but he didn't elaborate on it or give any specific examples.