Not All Zoos Are Inhumane | Teen Ink

Not All Zoos Are Inhumane MAG

September 6, 2008
By Maribeth Flowers, Brecksville, OH

This piece is a response to “The Modern Zoo” from the May 2008 issue of Teen Ink. I volunteer at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and have gotten to know its keepers, veterinary staff, and other workers. According to the writer of “The Modern Zoo,” staff torture animals, do not provide adequate living space, and keep the animals merely to entertain. In my three years of volunteering, I have never seen, nor had any reason to suspect, any foul play at my zoo. The allegations in “The Modern Zoo” that all zoos are inhumane and cruel is false, I believe.

According to the article in Teen Ink, “Zoos claim to educate visitors. Yet we’ve all seen the one-sentence signs that describe monkeys. What can be learned from this? Certainly not enough to justify ­inhumane captivity.” One-sentence signs are not the end of zoos’ efforts to educate. At my zoo an entire department is devoted to educating the public about conservation of animals and our planet. If zoos didn’t care about education, why would they have this? While exhibits may display signs with brief information, staff work daily at the zoo to educate visitors about conservation and other critical topics.

Some zoo employees visit schools and businesses to educate the public about how to be more responsible with our environment. This department even organizes conservation projects around Ohio, such as the community effort to remove waste from Big Creek. Volunteers spent a day restoring the creek to a more healthy ecosystem. The zoo is also part of a ­national conservation campaign called Year of the Frog, dedicated to saving ­amphibian species from extinction. Zoos put forth tremendous effort to educate people, and to say that they do not is just not true in my experience.

“Zoo animals endure inadequate living conditions with no space,” claims the ­article. It’s not fair to make this generalization. My own zoo, for example, is planning a one-of-a-kind, spacious ­exhibit for its elephants. The exhibit ­encompasses many acres, and will be large enough to support a breeding population. If zoos didn’t care about adequate space for their animals, why would they waste time raising millions of dollars to build this type of exhibit? Also, my zoo cares a lot for its animals; it houses the second oldest hippo in North America and its polar bears are twice the age of those in the wild.

I witnessed a life-saving surgery on a 13-year-old wolf. Veterinarians worked for two hours to save his life. Thirteen is very old for a wolf. Zoos do care for their animals, and do what they can to keep them strong and healthy.

“These animals are simply meant to ­entertain,” claims “The Modern Zoo.” That too is false. At the Cleveland Metro­parks Zoo, animals are never forced to do anything for the sake of visitors’ entertainment. We believe in positive animal/ ­human interaction. Zoo staff never force or coerce an animal due to this policy.

The author of “The Modern Zoo” is ­obviously very passionate in his opinion about zoos. I am also very passionate. I have not written this to personally attack him. Rather, I am simply stating facts. “The Modern Zoo” paints zoos as cruel, inhumane facilities, but it is both unfair and untrue to claim this about all of them. Many have state-of-the-art veterinary ­facilities and work hard to save endangered species.

I hope that readers will see that zoos seek to protect and save endangered species, as well as educate and encourage the public to do the same.

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This article has 75 comments.

foxlo4er2008 said...
on Feb. 6 at 11:30 am
foxlo4er2008, Lexington, South Carolina
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Yas I so much agree @cocorhino

cocorhino said...
on Jan. 25 at 4:03 pm
cocorhino, London, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I think that it all depends on the specific zoo.

the_fluffer said...
on Jan. 24 at 1:08 pm
the_fluffer, Newyork, New York
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
@kittypug hello

kittypug said...
on Feb. 1 2018 at 2:12 pm
kittypug, San Diego, California
0 articles 0 photos 21 comments
@kittypug yay hi world..

kittypug said...
on Feb. 1 2018 at 2:11 pm
kittypug, San Diego, California
0 articles 0 photos 21 comments
@kittypug wow

kittypug said...
on Jan. 30 2018 at 2:22 pm
kittypug, San Diego, California
0 articles 0 photos 21 comments
@ThePeaceDaisy I agree me to..

ThisIsEvan said...
on Jun. 29 2017 at 8:25 am
ThisIsEvan, Malvern, Pennsylvania
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:

The Modern Zoo was an awful article, so thank you for writing this.

darkflame said...
on Feb. 28 2017 at 2:50 pm
yeah zoos are not bad the people that work there are bad they are mean but some zoo keepers are good like in the movie zoo keeper one zookeeper is nice one zoo keeper is a big fat jerky crap face

mackayah said...
on Jun. 6 2016 at 12:46 pm
i agree that these reason are true

SJFS said...
on Jan. 26 2016 at 3:42 pm
It was very good. The Modern Zoo made my cry.

Semimajor said...
on Sep. 23 2014 at 1:27 pm
I agree - these two articles are perfect examples of opposing persuasive pieces. (I used them for my school assignment. Yeah, that is how good it is!)   However, it seems like it depends on which zoo you visit, not only the perspective. Maybe the author of "The Modern Zoo" saw a particularly bad zoo, while this author worked at a particularly good zoo. Maybe it is a spectrum.    

on Sep. 9 2014 at 12:52 am
TheDolphin ELITE, Iloilo, Other
210 articles 11 photos 51 comments
I really adore this and the "The Modern Zoo". After all, it still depends on the people on how they look zoos.

on May. 9 2013 at 6:01 pm
bookmouse BRONZE, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
1 article 90 photos 251 comments
Your article is well written and is closer to what I know about zoos than "The Modern Zoo." It was a great example of the format of persuasive writing my classes are working on in history and English. There are zoos which need improvement, but it is nice to see that there are so many others setting a good example. :)

on Apr. 18 2013 at 3:00 pm
Believebeluga BRONZE, Johns Creek, Georgia
3 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."- Baba Dioum

I just wanted to say I adored you article! I first joined TeenInk in a response to a blatantley "anti-captivity" article about cetaceans. While I respect the rights of people to be against the keeping of wildlife in human care, I draw the line at uneducated rants. Many of the articles I've read since joining however, have all shared common ground- "Zoos are evil". But I digress. Thank you so much for posting this educational, logical, informative and overall fabulous article!

on Dec. 5 2011 at 5:20 pm
hedwigy13 PLATINUM, Piscataway, New Jersey
27 articles 2 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Only in the dictionary does success come before work." -unknown

I loved this peice mostly for its message. I know a lot of people who claim zoos are inhumane. But, in truth, those "mistreated" animals are a lot better off in captivity. If you want inhumane, go check out some puppy mills or talk to some poachers.

on Dec. 5 2011 at 5:06 pm
camohunter19 GOLD, Sedro-Woolley, Washington
14 articles 13 photos 128 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Girls are so queer you never know what they mean. They say No when they mean Yes, and drive a man out of his wits for the fun of it." "Violence is never the answer! It is a question, and the answer is yes."

If it is expository/persuasive then stacked paragraphs even more important. Your job as an author is to knock me (the reader) out of my socks. Articles are not as long as fictional books, so you need to get to the point, and quick. Or else your reader may become bored. Does this clarify what I said earlier?

on Dec. 5 2011 at 4:43 pm
TouchOfARose SILVER, Winter Garden, Florida
7 articles 1 photo 118 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We all have ability. The difference is how we use it." -Stevie Wonder

I noticed that too, but this is more of an expository/pursuasive and listing can be quite helptful and simplifies things for the reader to make them easier to digest. You yawning by the third paragraph suggests the problem is with your mental aptitude, not a problem with her writing.
I'm sorry...I really sounded like such a b**ch there...and it WAS b**chy, but stuff that that just bothers me. :/

on Nov. 23 2011 at 2:50 pm
camohunter19 GOLD, Sedro-Woolley, Washington
14 articles 13 photos 128 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Girls are so queer you never know what they mean. They say No when they mean Yes, and drive a man out of his wits for the fun of it." "Violence is never the answer! It is a question, and the answer is yes."

Ok. Here is the problem with your writing, you list too much. You chose your topics and titles very well, but do away with listing. stacking your paragraphs so that you can't know one thing without the paragraph before it is key. also, work on different sentence lengths; I was close to yawning by the third paragraph.

on Oct. 18 2011 at 3:28 pm
ThePeaceDaisy BRONZE, Albany, New York
4 articles 5 photos 224 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Laundry is the only thing that should be separated by color.” - Unknown
I will change this every week!

I don't remember the author saying that ALL zoos are inhumane.

on Aug. 17 2011 at 12:04 pm
EllenVellenSpellen, Wheaton, Illinois
0 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I've never let my school interfere with my education."
Mark Twain

I keep reading 'zoos are bad because they lock animals up'. Okay fine. But let me say something.

1) Most of the animals in zoos nowadays are in the zoo specifically for their protection. To save them from extinction, or if they are to injured to function properly in 'the wild'. The other animals are there because they were bred there. 

2) All you people who still insist that the only point of a zoo is to entertain people need to poen your eyes. And go to a zoo. The purpose of a zoo has not been to entertain for a long time. The modern purpose is to remind people of the beaty we are missing. They are saying: Look! Look at this amazing animal, who, because of you, is suffering. Zoos are meant to educate, inspire, and motivate people aboutthe protection of our worlds animals.

3)My last point is on cages. It's ironic how one way thinking can affect the meaning of this point. You say cages keep you in. I say cages keep bad things out. Or that is the intention for this kind of cage. As I mentioned earlier, many of the animals at zoos have a reason to be there:they need protection, or help, from something that is ultimately humanity's fault. The cage is a protection, a safe haven for animals who need it. It includes shelter, food, water, space and anything else the animal needs without the dangers. And in time, when it is safe for the animals to go back to 'the wild' we will do it. 

As I see it a zoo is like a bandaide. As soon as we don't need it anymore we'll take it off. Though I guess we will always need someplace safe for permanently injured animals to go. We'll probably also always need a place to educate people too, because humans never seem to learn. 

The above is how some zoos are and how all zoos should be. If you see something in a zoo that does not fit within 'good zoo', get off your complaintive backside and do something about it. Quit arguing and act.

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