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

Zoos should be banned.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/6/2012 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,052 times Debate No: 27884
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)




The major problem with zoos is that the animals who live there are kept in enclosures that don't allow them to live their lives in a natural way. Zoos claim to help with conservation. However, hardly any zoo registers their animals on an international species database and most zoo animals are not endangered at all. Zoos spend huge amounts of money on their breeding programs, even though breeding animals in captivity isn't the best way to help in conservation. It is at least 50 times more expensive to maintain elephants in zoos than to protect equivalent numbers of elephants in the wild. I really think that zoos should be banned.


First I'm going to rebut your arguments

"Zoos don't allow animals to live in their natural ways"

Actually enclosures in zoos are made to be as close to natural habitats as possible. When you look at an enclosure containing a bear, you will see artificial rivers and huge lumps of rocks inside the enclosure, that's just an example.

"Zoos claim to help with conservation"?

Actually zoos really DO help with conservation, and have done so in the past. Do you remember the passenger pigeon which went extinct in the early 20th century? The last effort to keep the species from going extinct was done by a zoo in the US by breeding them. The last passenger pigeon to die was from a zoo.

And another example, the Sumatran tiger, there are less than a hundred of them remaining in the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and efforts are being made by Indonesian zoos to conserve them by breeding them. Without those zoos the Sumatran Tiger would have gone extinct.

"Zoos spend huge amounts of money on breeding programs"

Zoos only spend huge amounts of money on breeding endangered species, as it's necessary and it's mandated by the government. So I think that's justifiable.

"It's 50 times more expensive..."

Where did you get that info from? Reference please?

Now these are my arguments
-Zoos educate the younger generation about animals
-Zoos provide joy for children
-Zoos do help conserve animals as mentioned before
-Zoos are not that expensive, many zoo employees are actually not that well paid.
Debate Round No. 1


First "enclosures are made to be as close to natural habitats as possible" I say that what's "possible" isn't enough, if I take polar bears for example, they're confined in spaces that are more than a million times smaller than their arctic territory. No matter how big some zoos try to make the enclosures, no matter how many branches they put in them, no matter how beautiful they make the background paintings on the wall, they don't compare with the natural habitat the animals were meant to be in.

Now, a rebuttal to your helping with conservation argument which is too, my argument: Even though there are thousands of endangered species, zoos have only been able to return about 16 species to the wild with varying level of success. Most zoo animals released in the wild don't survive. This is because zoos don't provide the right environment for a successful captive breeding project. The animals would need to live in habitats resembling their natural ones, especially in terms of climate and fauna. The animals would also need to be raised with minimal human contact and in populations large enough to provide a natural social balance and a suitable gene pool.

"Zoos spend huge amounts of money on breeding programs" Why are zoos so interested in breeding animals? They attract huge amounts of people! Zoos main interest is always to make money and baby animals are their most powerful marketing tool. Also, selling surplus animals is a profitable way for zoos to dispose of them. Dealers will sell them to hunting ranches, pet shops, circuses, the exotic meat industry and research facilities. Surplus animals are also found for sale on the Internet. (Surplus animals are those unwanted animals for whom there is no more space, when zoos have bred yet another cute little baby to attract visitors.)

Now rebuttal to your arguments about joy to children and to educating the younger about animals: Children visiting zoos will be given the subliminal message that it is OK to use animals for our own ends, however it impinges on their freedom or quality of life. Therefore zoos will encourage poor treatment of animals more generally. People do not go to zoos for educational reasons they simply go to be entertained and diverted by weird and wonderful creatures seen as objects of beauty or entertainment. Dale Marcelini, a zoo curator in Washington, conducted a study that found visitors spend less than 8 seconds per snake, and one minute per lion. Otherwise, most people preoccupied themselves with eating, resting and shopping"people treated the exhibits like wallpaper . As a form of education the zoo is deficient: the only way to understand an animal properly is to see it in its natural environment " the zoo gives a totally artificial and misleading view of the animal by isolating it from its ecosystem.

"Zoos are not that expensive, many zoo employees are actually not that well paid." I don't really get, how that fits into the context, but, as a rebuttal or something, I could say that, chinese workers who make clothes and everything for fashion industry, aren't paid well, but that doesn't mean, that the owners of the companies who sell the product later don't earn very big money, they do earn enormous amounts of profit.



So pro argues that enclosures can never be compared to animals' natural habitats. Okay I have to agree on this one as this is a fact.

Next, pro argues that zoos are only able to return few species to the wild with varying levels of success out of thousands endangered species. Yet pro decided to ignore my proof which gives examples of two animals which have benefited from zoos' conservation efforts.
It is obvious that zoos cannot conserve every species in this world. The point I'm trying to tell you is that zoos have contributed to conservation efforts to many animals but not all. But so what if zoos cannot save every species? At least zoos have been PROVEN to have done some conservation, despite your argument that zoos do not conserve animals.
Without Indonesian zoos for example, would Sumatran tigers have survived?
So my argument still stands
You also say zoos don't provide the right environment for a successful captive project. So how did those Indonesian zoos succeed in saving Sumatran tigers, and returning some of them to the wild successfully? For your information, the island of Sumatra in Indonesia is ripe with illegal tiger hunters yet those Sumatran tigers who have been released back to the wild have fared well. While some who are still in zoos are happy also.
Basically there is no difference between animals from born in zoos and animals born in the wild in terms of ability to survive.

"The animals would also need to be raised with minimal human contact and in populations large enough to provide a natural social balance and a suitable gene pool" ---- Well, zoos usually have many animals of a specific species. Indonesian zoos which have Sumatran Tigers have more than one of them in each of their inventories. Those zoos are not foolish enough to not consider the need for their animals to socialize with other animals of the same types.
And regarding human contact, people who visit zoos are only allowed to SEE animals from behind closed fences. Is that not minimal enough to you?
The amount of contact is equivalent to having a safari in a national park in a protected car. So actually zoos and national parks, which are supposedly a natural habitat for zoo animals, are not much different in terms of human contact.

This argument of yours is very funny, claiming that zoos breed and raise animals for profit and money. Zoos are government owned in countries all over the world. And they receive government funding for the purpose of conserving and breeding endangered species alone. Not to mention separate government funding for other purposes.
And those very few who are privately owned are run by animal lovers who care very little about profit. And most of such owners are rich that they don't need profit from their zoos anyway!

Actually zoos are not the source of animals sold by dealers. There is a special class of breeders who specialize in supplying dealers with animals. Pet shops? Do zoos breed cats and dogs? research facilites? Do zoos breed mice and rabbits? HAHA.
How can you assume that children in zoos are given "the subliminal message" that it's OK to use animals for their own ends?
Children usually visit zoos alongside parents or teachers. And the parents or the teachers would not teach the children to misuse animals. Which parent would teach his child bad things?
Yes people go to zoos for one purpose of the fun of watching weird animals. But that's one purpose of education in zoos.By going to zoos people learn that there are weird animals and they get to see those animals with their own eyes. It's a valuable experience for them.
"The only way to understand an animal properly...." Wait, can every child afford to take a holiday to Africa to see animals in their natural habitats? Can every child go to the North Pole to see polar bears? That's one purpose of zoos, to give people a chance to see animals, those people who can't afford to visit the animals' natural habitats. Don't assume everyone is rich like you probably are.
To many people, the only way to see real lions, tigers, polar bears etc is by visiting zoos. Are you trying to deprive them of the chance to see animals with their own eyes?
Debate Round No. 2


Okay, the con gave me proof as two animals which have benefited from zoos' conservation efforts. But that doesn't mean it couldn't been done in a different way. Zoos are not the only way to return species, I think that national parks or wildlife sanctuaries for example are much better for doing the job of conservation. And Sumatran tigers which you mentioned have been saved by different national parks NOT zoos, there's a difference. In zoos animals are kept in cages, but in wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, animals can live pretty much wild and free. They have some borders, but that's only to protect them. So your argument doesn't stand.
Now that text I basically rebutted already with saying most of Sumatran tigers have been saved by national parks.
And you can't say that their happy in zoos, when I visited a zoo recently, one of the elephants was swaying her trunk back and forth. I heard a woman say: "if I could just do that all day, man that would be pretty sweet.". I also overheard a little girl ask her mother what the elephant was doing. Her mother answered that the elephant was "dancing".

The sad truth though is that repetitive movements like trunk swaying are clear signs of stress. Since most of us only know these wild animals from seeing them in zoos, it isn't easy to recognize stress behaviors. Zoo keepers either aren't aware of these signs themselves, or they aren't eager to explain them to us.

They may have animal's in pairs, but half of the cases, they don't, an animal can be alone in the cage, you're talking again only about Sumatran Tigers, in one zoo, but I see the whole picture, and that picture is awful.
And about the amount of contact, they have zookeepers playing with them etc. when their young and when their very popular, this amount of people around them, this is not even comparable with the safari tours, where the animals can live FREE and go away when they don't like the noise or something.

If you find that funny, you're a sad person. Dude you can't say that the directors and so, don't earn big money, because they do. Maybe the caretakers don't have big salaries.
Do Pet shops sell CATS AND DOGS only? Do research facilities use mice and rabbits only?


You don't always learn everything from your teachers, I don't know where you live, but kids in Europe do their own conclusions too. And that what you said just makes it worse. So, a zoo is a freak show, and what do they learn from that, I brought the comparison about spending time per snake and per lion, (less than 8 seconds per snake, and one minute per lion). So it is just mere entertainment. I don't get how it is a valuable experience for them.

Of course everyone, considering me, can't afford taking a holiday to Africa, or North Pole. And don't assume I am rich because I am not. If we can't afford to visit them, we can learn about these amazing wild animals by going to a wildlife park, if there is no wildlife parks near you, or you can't afford that too then watching wildlife videos, television programs or by reading about them on the internet or in books and magazines is the solution for you. It is simply not right to enjoy seeing these animals while they are living a horribly sad life.


Zoos are indeed not the only way to save species, but they are one of the ways. Just because there are other means of conversing species it doesn't mean you can discredit zoos and ignore the contributions to the conservation of wildlife which zoos have done. So my argument still stands; Zoos have contributed to the conservation of wildlife.

One point, animals in zoos are not kept in cages, they have their own special enclosures which are sizable. The only times when these animals are kept in cages are during some rare moments such as giving birth or when they are sick or when they need to be transported somewhere.

Is there any scientific proof saying that elephants sway their trunk back and forth because they are unhappy?

Actually trunk swaying is part of elephants' normal behavior. Even elephants in the wild sway their trunks over and over when they are bored or resting.

You cannot assume zoos mostly keep one animal of one type just because they display only one animal of a specific kind at a time. In a zoo there is always some sort of backyard in which animals are kept when they are not put on display. But it doesn't mean they are not treated well there. Look at the amount of money spent on zoos by governments. Zoos' backyards are specially designed to provide the best care for animals possible.

Why am I sad because I say it's funny? It's actually funny because zoos are not a source of wealth, everybody who is sane knows that. No one can get rich from managing a zoo. There is someone known as Bill Gates who got rich from managing Microsoft, but has anybody gotten rich from managing a zoo? No one. But if you believe someone has, Tell me who the guy is :))

So your argument that zoos only look for profit and zoos give their directors "great wealth" is invalid.

Offcourse pet shops don't just sell cats and dogs. BUT STILL the other types of animals they sell couldn't possibly come from zoos, like for example hamsters or pet fish. Or are you trying to say that pet shops sell lions or elephants?

Research facilities have always used mice and rabbits throughout history.

Man let me teach you the concept of value. Something is valuable if it's hard to get. Can you see lions apart from in zoos? So seeing lions is a valuable experience.

Well not everybody has the luxury of having a computer and an internet access to open youtube and see wildlife videos, not everybody has the luxury of having cable television so they can watch national geographic. or the luxury of having a book specifically written about wildlife. And still you can only see them in pictures and photos or videos if you say so. It's just like seeing a painting of an extinct animal. Zoos provide us an opportunity to see these animals with our own eyes.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by HeWhoKnowsAll 3 years ago
To Andreas,

Although I strongly believe that zoos need to provide better environment and I do agree with you that no matter what it will not be EXACTLY like their true habitat you are wrong about polar bears. A polar bear can live in 100 sq. ft. but a polar bear has to go to where the food is, and if that means a long walk, then the bear will go for a long walk. But, if there is food nearby, there is no reason for them to leave. Polar bears don't protect or defend their home range because the ice changes so much. If a bear protected a hole in the ice one day, the next day it may have frozen up and there would be nothing to protect.
Posted by HeWhoKnowsAll 3 years ago
Zoos play an important part in preserving wildlife in danger of extinction. People who care about animals should actually be the ones going to there because the more revenue the more they can do. I believe new zoos with a 500% increase in cage/habitat/aquarium should be built and smaller zoos phased out. The habitats should be even more realistic including; the plants that would be there if they were in there real habitat, rocks that would be there (for their claws and such), and any wildlife that would normally be around them that they don't eat (the Egyptian plover eats tiny pieces of meat from the crocodiles teeth preventing tooth decay).
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by iamnotwhoiam 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Neither side cited sources that would actually make their case. Therefore it was just a war of opinion. "Rich like you probably are" and "you're a sad person" were both unnecessary. Neither side gets a conduct point.
Vote Placed by Cometflash 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I felt both sides had some good arguments, but since the resolution is; "zoos should be BANNED" and CON kept the doubt of such in check, I'm giving CON the arguments. So, PRO's resolution was just too strong of a statement to stand.