The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
15 Points

Zoos do more harm than good.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/28/2012 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,545 times Debate No: 26672
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (2)
Votes (3)




Can you remember the very first time you ever went to a zoo? Didn't the animals seem amazing? The very first time you ever saw an elephant - can you recall how huge it seemed, how unbelievable its trunk was, how extraordinary it was that this great fantastic creature was actually there, sharing the world with you? If you live close to a zoo, then for you it is probably still 'The Zoo'. It may still have affectionate memories for you, memories of strange exotic creatures, and curious smells; a place full of beasts with a power to fascinate, intimidate, or amuse.
But perhaps your memories of the zoo are not so pleasant. Perhaps your last impression of the zoo was not of an astonishing place full of playful monkeys and towering giraffes, but of the sad and listless eyes of a poor wild animal imprisoned in a hopelessly unsuitable cage. For zoos are not always exotic and exciting places. They may be cruel, dank, and depressing. And however startling our first impressions of the zoo might have been, we soon begin to look at the world with clearer, more critical eyes. We no longer visit the zoo to marvel at the sheer size of the elephants or to gasp at the jaws of the lions, and we start to question the ethics of it all.
Most countries have at least one national zoo. Britain, for example, has over eighty mammal collections that might properly be called zoos, the United Sates has over two hundred, and there is a huge variation in their quality. Most of us can intuitively recognise a bad zoo when we have the misfortune to visit one. Yet there seem to be very few rules to help us determine which zoos, if any, deserve to be called 'good zoos'.
To begin with, is there really such a thing as a good zoo at all in the new 'green' millennium'Green Decade' of the nineties? Can zoos really justify their existence in the light of the new environmental realism that we all have to face, or do they simply exist to satisfy a rather old fashioned appetite for the curious and the macabre? Is there really a case for caging animals any more, especially now that we have television wildlife programmes to satisfy our thirst for knowledge of the wild world, and we have theme parks to take the family to on a Sunday afternoon? Today we are all becoming 'green consumers'. We have green supermarkets, and green products from washing powder to petrol. How green are our zoos?
If you begin to ask zoo directors these questions, you will soon come across a fairly standard reply. Modem zoos, they will explain, are no longer the consumers of wild animals and the fairground attractions that they once were. Today's zoos are sanctuaries for rare and endangered animals, they are educators of our children, teaching us all to love and appreciate the wildlife of our planet, and they are centres of academic research. Well they would say that, wouldn't they.
The Good Zoo Guide Online aims to discover whether there is any truth in these claims. Zoos stake a claim to four fundamental objectives - conservation, education, research, and recreation. But just how these objectives are perceived, and what emphasis is accorded to each one, varies considerably from zoo to zoo. These days recreation tends to be considered insufficient justification for depriving animals of their freedom. Half a century ago it may have been quite acceptable to keep a solitary animal in close confinement just for our amusement, but perceptions have changed. Today we expect more of our zoos. We hear of 'Animal Rights'. We think of animals as being 'exploited' - a concept unknown during the formative years of zoos. So we must look towards conservation, education, and research if we are to justify our modem zoos. But are these really just a smokescreen, a fiction behind which nothing has really changed?
The Good Zoo Guide Online takes each of these issues in turn, and explores the way that Zoos are facing up to them. If we take zoos at their face value, we should be able to judge, albeit subjectively, whether they pay more than lip service to conservation, education, and research. If they do, then perhaps, just perhaps, they deserve to be called 'good zoos'.
And surprisingly, or unsurprisingly, depending upon your prejudices or your point of view, the evidence suggests that there are still plenty of good zoos. Some of them undoubtedly deserve to be listed among the best zoos in the world. Others at least deserve more local recognition. The best zoos are bold and innovative. They are not shackled by the vestigial ideas of the post-war years. They do not believe that the only way to attract visitors is to keep just the nursery-book species. They understand that every animal has its own peculiar environmental, behavioural, and emotional demands, and they design their enclosures accordingly. They understand too that the human animals, as visitors to the zoo, must have their needs catered to as well. Most of all they recognise that many of the world's animals are now in imminent danger of extinction, and that zoos may represent the only way to escape the eternal condemnation of every future generation of mankind for allowing these unique species to disappear forever. In a very real sense these zoos are among the 'greenest' institutions in the world.
Many of these issues are complex and controversial. But there is a growing consensus that there are good zoos. They deserve our patronage, and we in turn can learn from them, and can gain a great deal of pleasure from visiting them. This guide attempts to identify those good zoos. Please help by contributing your own zoo reviews, by sending us zoo guides and zoo literature, and by advertising on our pages.


I accept and I thank my opponent for setting up this debate


--(On balance,) Zoos do more harm than good.--

I will be affirming this resolution.

=======Burden of Proof=======

Since I and arguing for the affirmation of the resolution, I will have the BOP. Therefore, the status quo of zoos being "good" is to be assumed until I show otherwise.


1. Harm: Physical or mental damage [1].

2. Zoo: A zoo (short for zoological park or zoological garden, and also called a menagerie) is a facility in which animals are confined within enclosures, displayed to the public, and in which they may also be bred. [2]

3. Good: morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious. [5]



First and foremost, Con's entire R1 argument is plagiarized [3] -- Not that it needs to be pointed out as it's plainly obvious since Con didn't even bother to leave out the part about the sites advertising at the end of the article he's ripping off.

-----Enclosure Space/Premature Death-----

Often Zoos have insufficient enclosure space for the animals in question. This is pretty much true for all the larger animals, but it is especially true for elephants. In the wild, elephants may walk up to 30km a day -- something they can't do in a zoo enclosure. This results in said elephants dieing at an average age of 16-18 years, rather than the 50-70 they usually live in the wild [4].

The natural life-span of wild elephants is comparable to the average life-span of humans. Consider how poor one's living conditions must be for a group of humans to die off in their teens on average. To help you imagine such a poor standard of living, consider that the most impoverished nations on Earth still have a population that's expected to live 2-3 times as long as these elephants [6]. However bad the standard of living must be to kill off humans after only 16-18 years, that level of poor living standard is the equivalent of how these elephants are living inside these zoos right now.

In zoos, 40% of baby lions die before one month of age. Compare that to wild where only 30% of lion cubs die before the age of six months [11].

-----Abnormal Repetitive Behavior-----

Abnormal Repetitive Behavior (ARB) is a blanket term used to describe a long list of abnormal behaviours in animals including such things as walking back and forth, bar-biting, rocking and even self-biting. More symptoms listed here [7]. ARB is often the result of stress, frustration, or impaired brain function.

the University of Kent in the U.K. set forth to find out how common ARB was in animals kept in zoos. The animal they chose to test was chimpanzees. Their finding were as follows:

"Our overall finding was that abnormal behaviour was present in all sampled individuals across six independent groups of zoo-living chimpanzees, despite the differences between these groups in size, composition, housing, etc. We found substantial variation between individuals in the frequency and duration of abnormal behaviour, but all individuals engaged in at least some abnormal behaviour and variation across individuals could not be explained by sex, age, rearing history or background (defined as prior housing conditions)." [8]

This study shows that even well-funded zoos still are not adequate enough to properly care for chimpanzees, which are relatively small animals compared to the likes of elephants, hippopotamus's and any of the large cats.

-----The Myth of Conservation-----

Zoos are said to be important due to the fact that they are helping to conserve the species of their animals. First of all, most zoos do not register their animals in an international species database, nor are most of the animals kept in zoos endangered in the first place. [4]

Second, zoos have a horrendous track record of saving endangered species. Out of the thousands of animals that are considered endangered and out of the 200 species that are going extinct daily [9] (keep in mind, this number includes plants as well), zoos have only succeeded in bringing back 16 species to the wild [4]. This is because re-introducing captive animals into the wild almost never works due to the insufficient life-experience animals receive in captivity.

Mating in zoos is also a waste of time. Consider that elephant breeding in zoos costs over 50 times more than it costs to protect the equivalent amount of elephants in the wild [4]. Therefore, conservation programs for animals in the wild are far superior methods of conserving animals than zoos are, and for every 1 elephant saved in a zoo, 50 wild elephants could have been saved.

-----Surplus Animals are Slaughtered-----

In an attempt to increase there customer base, zoos spend a great deal on breeding baby animals, since baby animals have such a large appeal. The problem is that these zoos are already too small for the adult animals thy have now, let alone all the new ones growing up. This results in annual auctions for these animals. Often times, these animals are either sold to hunters for sport, or to a slaughter-house [10].

In some cases, the zoos themselves kill their "surplus" animals;

"In 2010, zoo trade bodies rallied to the defence of a German zoo which was prosecuted for breaching animal welfare laws after it killed three tiger cubs because they were not pure-blooded (hybrid)." [11]

There's much, much more where this came from, but considering that Con's argument was plagiarized, this is probably already over-kill.


Con plagiarized his entire argument. To even call it an argument is generous because he plagiarized the introduction on a sites homepage -- there was nothing statistically significant stated at all. Furthermore, I've established that zoos are woefully insufficient in breeding, raising, conserving, and in keeping the minimum standard of living needed to keep these animals alive even a fraction of how long they are supposed to live. Given this, paired with the fact that Con has effectively posted nothing yet and it's clear that the resolution has been affirmed.

Debate Round No. 1


george_ily_nae forfeited this round.


Extending arguments, claiming victory.
Debate Round No. 2
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by RyuuKyuzo 5 years ago
Your track-record is none too shabby either my friend. I look forward to that day where we cross verbal swords.
Posted by Hemanth_Nambiar 5 years ago
I think you can safely say that another one bites the dust. You know what, RyuuKyuzo, I would have challenged you if your track record had not been so intimidating. However, I'll somehow mange to muster the courage to do that one of these days. Till then, please continue demolishing such idiots. Best of luck.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Smithereens 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: plagiarism + forfeits = 7 points to Affirmative
Vote Placed by emj32 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit ..
Vote Placed by emospongebob527 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Fail 'bate.