Importance Of Keeping Animals In Zoos And Aquariums

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Given that over five million animals are kept in zoos and aquariums around the world, ethical questions about keeping animals in such environments should be given serious consideration (Garner 2005: 140). In this essay, I shall evaluate the practice of keeping animals in zoos and aquariums from a utilitarian perspective, an approach which I will offer reasons for adopting. In doing so, I will reflect upon what it means to be held captive in such institutions, before critically analysing two principal justifications that are used in support of zoos and aquariums. Namely, that they provide worthwhile benefits in terms of education, and wildlife conservation. But first, I will consider the moral status of animals, and make a case that animals are indeed deserving of moral status, which should prompt us to carefully consider whether we can justify keeping them in zoos and aquariums. To ascribe an entity with moral status is to declare that its treatment by moral agents is morally important (DeGrazia 2008: 183). Moral status depends upon an entity being, at a basic level, sentient. This means that it must have the ability to experience sensation or feeling, which will see it having interests in avoiding sensations like pain, and desiring others, such as pleasure. Without this basic capacity, and therefore the ability to be harmed, moral status is meaningless and cannot be awarded to an entity (Jaworska & Tannenbaum 2013). We may think an object, such as a rock, has value

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