Endangered Species in Zoos- Beneficial or Harmful?

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In the hot summer sun a hungry African lion paces back and forth in his cage. His instincts tell him to hunt, but he cannot. Instead, he restlessly eyes the doorway from which his food is brought to him. This brings a sad picture to mind, that of a wild animal held captive, unable to stalk his prey and revel in his catch when the chase is through. However, this lion’s natural
African habitat is all but gone now; if he were in the wild, he might be on the edge of starvation, or more likely, in danger of being killed. A lion kept in a zoo is safe, but is he is no longer one of nature’s most feared hunters. At the heart of the matter is the decision to either keep him safe in a zoo or let him live in the wild, where he will be
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In fact, as Hurley points out, “in order to catch one young endangered animal, several adults of the species are often killed as they attempt to protect the young one” (par. 7).
Even if animals flourish in a zoo, they are not likely to be equipped to survive in the wild after release, especially if they have never learned from their elders how to hunt their prey. Because of the low success rate, reintroduction into the wild is often not even attempted for many species. It is obvious that zoos are committed to preserving species and providing a safe place for animals. While this is a noble cause, it seems that their money and effort may be better utilized by working toward preserving the animals’ natural habitats rather than building bigger and more modern cages. Again, it is commendable that in the modern era zoos are being redone or built new to accommodate animals as much as possible, but even so, nothing can fully replicate an animal’s wild habitat. In “Zoos Harm Animals”, Jennifer Hurley states that “Zoos, above all, are financial institutions”. Since the bottom line is to bring through the gates as many visitors as possible, “money is put into the exhibits and displays that will attract the most people, not necessarily to the ones that will best benefit the animals”

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