Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Not All Zoos Are Inhumane This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By
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.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





Join the Discussion


This article has 63 comments. Post your own!

jessenielsen said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 6:48 pm:
I was raised in Kenya (east Africa) and have seen my fair share of zoos. the only point of a zoo is to profit and provide entertainment. if you disagree with this, you may ask "how did those animals end up thousands of miles away from there natural habitat?" Africa has its parks and has many orfinages for the young animals that are unable to survive on there own in the wild. there is no reason rather then for entertainment purposes to have zoos. How ever you may take this comment, the facts ... (more »)
 
jessenielsen replied...
Nov. 7, 2010 at 9:30 am :
so what your saying is, we should ulter the course of nature? there are many places in africa that provide safety for animals that are getting killed off by hunters. zoos are not the salvation of poor indangered animals, its just a place for the public and there entertainment. not saying that the keepers dont care about their animals, just stating facts. there are enough protectd areas in africa were these animals can still be animals. when you cage, or fence in anything, how is that kind? how i... (more »)
 
Dart replied...
Feb. 20, 2011 at 2:24 pm :

Those are not facts.

Now, there are bad zoos. I'm not talking about those. Those are akin to circuses and should be eliminated. A good zoo's goal is to educate the public and breed animals. Grouping those in with bad zoos is insulting and disrespectful.

Many animals were born in captivity, many were injured in the wild and were rescued from certain death. Few animals are taken from the wild anymore, and they shouldn't be, unless they are hurt. That is something that should be st... (more »)

 
Lilliterra replied...
Apr. 7, 2011 at 9:41 pm :

Well hang on a sec. I agree with the beginning of your post (Dart's post), but... for one, what's wrong with teaching animals tricks? Who here teaches their dog tricks? What's the difference? As long as it's not something dangerous, or they don't be mean like cracking a whip or something.

I do agree with your other point. Zoos are very educational. If I had only seen giraffes in picture books or on TV, they wouldn't exactly seem real, would they?

Although I don't quite understan... (more »)

 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
jessenielsen said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 6:48 pm:
I was raised in Kenya (east Africa) and have seen my fair share of zoos. the only point of a zoo is to profit and provide entertainment. if you disagree with this, you may ask "how did those animals end up thousands of miles away from there natural habitat?" Africa has its parks and has many orfinages for the young animals that are unable to survive on there own in the wild. there is no reason rather then for entertainment purposes to have zoos. How ever you may take this comment, the facts remain.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
tomtamtimmy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 21, 2010 at 12:38 am:
i agree with hazydreamsbroken. most of the time its orphaned animals. or animals that seemed to be alone or in immedate danger.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Writer24This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 3, 2010 at 1:46 pm:
This is a very well written and informative article. I wonder though, the person who wrote the first article, if they had stated that most zoos rather than all, if incase yours a rare kinder zoo. I don't know for myself at all, I'm just wondering if this other person's article, if they had been more careful not to use words such as "all" if they point would have held true.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Imaginedangerous This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 17, 2010 at 2:57 pm:
I think a point that was missed in this article is that zoos are often used to help an endangered species breed, so the species can become stronger (the well-known pandas at the San Diego Zoo are a good example).  Other than leaving that out, the article was very well written. I enjoyed and agreed with it.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
SocialCollision said...
Jun. 25, 2010 at 1:34 pm:
okay. Here's what makes me mad. Lots of people say that NOT ALL ZOOS ARE INHUMANE. That's not true, It's inhumane to keep an animal against it's will. If an animal was born into the wild and taken into captivity, THAT is inhumane. Yes zoos have the means to take care of an animal, but to take the out of the wild to breed them? ABSURD! ALL ZOOS ARE INHUMANE.
 
grasslova replied...
Jul. 16, 2010 at 8:20 pm :
AGREED!! So then you'd agree with me when I say: it is positively cruel and cold-blooded for humans to keep plants cooped up in a plot of dirt, or so-called "garden" in countless backyards accross America! It's crazy man! These days, people are just so jacked up; so sick, SO twisted. It is unbelieveable. We should just go back to being cave men. (And women--to appease the femminists).
 
beautifulworld replied...
Jul. 17, 2010 at 7:59 pm :
I thnk you should read Life of Pi. It talks all about the subjects your bringing up and explains just how you can tell that most zoos actually DO care.
 
guineapig324 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 8, 2010 at 8:32 pm :
Life of Pi is a great book, especially if you like animals! And most zoo animals are bred in zoos, not taken out of the wild "against their will". Besides, animals do not think of this as a loss of freedom, but rather a means of easily obtained food, shelter, and protection! 
 
HazyDreamsBroken replied...
Aug. 30, 2010 at 12:30 pm :
So you want to leave injured animals that can be saved in the zoo to die? I understand your views, but I also think you need to get off your closed minded track, and look at the GOOD zoos do for YOUNG ABANDONED animals, and INJURED animals that would never survive in the wild.
 
Zora. replied...
Aug. 30, 2010 at 12:53 pm :

grasslova, look up anarcho-primitivism, I think it might interest you. ;]

My opinion: Some people are cruel. Some of these people work at zoos. Some people care. They also work at zoos. Some zoos as a whole can be cruel, and some intend to be kind to the animals in their care.

I understand that, and so on physical level, zoos more often than not (as people are, more often that not kind as opposed to cruel) do not harm animals, and all levels, do not seek to harm animal... (more »)

 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
BlueberryPoptartHasAnAmazinglyLongScreenname said...
Jun. 25, 2010 at 8:02 am:
But it's the whole concept for me. It just is disturbing to me that people feel they have such athority, and take animals into conditions that couldn't possibly replicate those in the wild. You bring up age as a measure of care. I disagree years liveed is equivelent to quality of life. Death isn't a bad thing. It's the natural end, and if you push and push and medicate and perform so many sugerys are you just cuasing animals unneeded pain and sufffering in the name of humans wanting to watch wol... (more »)
 
Steph0804 replied...
Aug. 17, 2011 at 9:46 am :
I agree with you. This idea that some of us humans have that we have total control over animals' lives is false. However, sometimes, if the animal is injured, orphaned, or dying, I think it's better to take them into our care (but I think it would only be fair to release them back to where they came from).
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Jane_P This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 3, 2010 at 7:59 pm:
Has anyone seen San Diego zoo? They have recreated the animal's natural habitats, and take such excellent care of them. Many of the animals are happier and healthier than they are in the wild.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
skywitch said...
Jun. 3, 2010 at 5:09 pm:

Not all zoos are bad, but some are, I guess that when you really look at it its party on how much money the zoo has.

I went to Disney World two years ago and was pleasantly surprised at how well the animals were treated. They had large enclosures (notice how I didn't say cages) and some of them were even able to interact with other animals.

I believe that people have come along way in how we treat their animals. In school I learned that the first elephant that came to America wa... (more »)

 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
JBfan4ever This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 3, 2010 at 6:31 am:
This is a great review. You have really  strong evidence and you took the article and broke it into pieces and gave certain evidence to that thing exactly. This is great writing and an excellent review.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
AprilBlue said...
May 12, 2010 at 8:45 pm:

You totally pwned whoever it was that wrote that last artice. 

Cyberhighfive!

 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
SassyJones said...
May 12, 2010 at 6:28 pm:
great article. How do i apply to  get a job at a zoo? 
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback