The Morality of Zoos Essay

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The word zoo is a fairly broad term. Zoos are most commonly thought of as an attraction rather than a means for education. More importantly, they are rarely associated with the survival of the human race. While zoos are a form of entertainment for the public and a taxable industry for the government; most of them do in fact research the animals they have in their captivity. This research can be beneficial and life saving for humans and if it were not for this testing, we would not have many key vaccines that we have today. For the sake of this paper the term zoo can be applied to all animals in captivity. This includes those for entertainment, medical testing, and rehabilitation/protection. Tom Reagan wrote on if zoos are morally…show more content…
To ascertain that they have the same rationalization powers as humans do on deciding if their actions are causing pleasure or pain, is to give their awareness too much credit. A good paper to prove this point, is Carl Cohen’s Do Animals Have Rights? In it he responds to Regan’s theory that animals have rights.
Cohen decides that Regan’s biggest error is associating two different versions of the broadly used term “inherent value” to formulate his conclusion. Regan claims that because animals have inherent value they are moral agents and should not be used in a fashion that makes them less important than humans. However, Cohen says that just because they have inherent value it does not mean they are moral beings. Surely because they feel pain it is immoral to cause them to suffer needlessly but this does not give them the same rights as humans. Animals live in an amoral world without respect or knowledge of other living thing’s rights. Since they are unaware of morals and rights, it seems absurd to hold them to the same moral standard as humans.
It would appear then that when deciding on the moral legitimacy of zoos, it would be correct to separate human rights from the natural laws that animals live by. The natural world is based on survival. Animals kill other animals to survive and out of instinct. House cats torture their prey before killing it, and bears eat their prey alive. Animals act without the knowledge
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