Talking Point: Zoos

6 Conversations

A group of elephants in a zoo.

The Zoological Society of London was created in Victorian times for 'the advancement of zoology and animal physiology and the introduction of new and curious subjects of the Animal Kingdom'. Zoos were already popular, although there were only a small number of them at the time; unfortunately the welfare of the animals came a long way down the list of priorities - entertainment was considered to be more important.

Now that the physiological effects of a life in a concrete zoo are known and efforts are made to make zoos more like the natural homes of the animals, this week we want to know have zoos had their day, or do they still have a role as a place of education and entertainment?

  • What are the best zoos in the UK and around the world? How 'natural' are their enclosures, and are the animals really happy there?

  • Should they all be shut down? And if so what should happen to the animals?

  • What are the benefits of zoos that aren't always obvious from this side of the bars?

  • Do zoos offer homes to animals in danger of extinction, or is this a fate worse than death for the animals themselves?

  • Should zoos be open to the public, or should they be only places of learning and conservation?

  • Would the money currently spent on zoos be better spent on helping the animals in their natural environments?

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