Roadside zoos, petting zoos, and smaller animal exhibitors tend to keep animals in smaller pens or cages. Sometimes, barren concrete and metal bars is all a tiger or bear will know for their entire lives. Larger zoos try to distance themselves from these operations by stating how well the animals are treated, but the issue is not how well the animals are treated, but whether we have a right to confine them for our amusement or "education." Animals in captivity suffer from stress, boredom and confinement. Family bonds are severed when animals are sold or traded with other zoos. Baby animals may bring in visitors and money, but this incentive to breed new baby animals leads to overpopulation. Surplus animals are sold not only to other zoos, but also to circuses, canned hunting facilities and even for slaughter. Researchers found that elephants in zoos only live for 17 years compared to elephants in the wild that live for 56 years. Ned the Asian Elephant was born at an accredited zoo, but later confiscated from an abusive circus trainer and finally sent to a sanctuary. If the emotional side effects on animals aren't bad enough, there are physical torments inflicted on some of the more “scary” animals. In some of the worst zoos in the world, tigers teeth are pulled out and bears are chained through the nose in order for visitors to take photos and feel safe. Once again, our amusement is put before the basic rights of the animal. Aren't zoos supposed to be simulating the animals natural habitat. I've never heard of wild bears having the urge to tie one another up and have a “photo shoot”. This must be torture on the poor animals, not to mention they must have great difficulty eating without teeth or with something chained through their nose. This in turn could lead to malnutrition and death. How is this any better than living in the wild? Plus, removing individuals from the wild will further endanger the wild population because the remaining individuals will have more difficulty finding mates.
Animals sometimes escape their enclosures, endangering themselves as well as people. We may be keeping these animals for entertainment and money but we are becoming the enemies of these creatures and risking the lives of our own species. Many animals kept under supervision of zoo keepers have caused harm and death to visitors and workers. Just two years ago in October, a female elephant at Moscow Zoo killed it’s handler with a kick due to nervousness while being moved into a truck. Another incident involved a tiger who had escaped from its cage and attacked two visitors of the zoo; the same tiger had attacked a zoo keeper the previous year. The tiger was then shot to death after being found. Animals from zoos may cause death and injuries but that is because we give them pain and hunger. It’s a vicious circle. These animals are wild animals, and ironically the frustration caused by their captivity has made them even wilder. They undergo tremendous stress as their natural movements are limited by the boundaries of the zoo. And the sad reality is that no matter how good the facilities of a zoo are, animals are bound to suffer.
Finally, it’s said that Zoos exist to educate people. People don't visit zoos for educational purposes. It is just a means of entertainment for them. Moreover, if people get used to watching animals in zoos, a deep-seated thought of zoos being an ideal place for animals may take root in their minds. It is observed that visitors tend to abuse animals by throwing objects or shouting at them; such kind of careless behaviour by visitors has a negative effect on animals. In fact, such type of abuse can also be fatal. As seen in the previous paragraph, tigers and lions are generally at the receiving end of such kinds of abuse. The majority of the educational benefits of zoos aren't even looked at. Think about it, how many times have you stopped to read one of those little plaques? – No, we’re most likely a few meters away, laughing at some monkeys through their faeces at each other.
In conclusion, zoos don’t educate. They may succeed in preserving endangered species to some extent, but in terrible conditions, and the effects of captivity on these animals is unjustifiable. How can zoos possibly teach or show us anything positive? It's wrong to teach generations that nature is something that needs to be caged, we are nature. So looking at zoos now, stripping away all the false positives they lay claim to, it is very easy to see that they are just “internment camps for animals and should be shut down”.