Why You Should Never Visit/Support Zoos

Why you should never visit or support zoos

Why You Should Never Visit/Support Zoos

We all love wild, exotic animals. They’re fascinating and unique creatures that, were it not for zoos, many of us would never get to see up close and personal.

But unfortunately, zoos are not the animal wonderlands they claim to be. In recent years, zoos have come under fire from animal rights activists and other concerned citizens. And rightfully so—the conditions in which animals are kept in zoos are often deplorable.

So before you book tickets to your local zoo, let’s look at some of the reasons why this particular animal attraction should be avoided at all costs.

11 reasons why you shouldn’t support zoos

1. Animals in zoos are confined to cramped, unsanitary spaces

This is perhaps the most obvious reason why zoos are bad for animals. Most zoos keep their animals in cages or enclosures that are unsanitary and far too small for them.

For example, elephants in captivity often suffer from foot problems due to the lack of space to walk around and exercise their feet the way they would in the wild.

The environment is oftentimes extremely filthy, as the animals are confined in a small space with their own waste. This can lead to health problems and even death.

2. Animals in zoos are put on display for public entertainment

Another major problem with zoos is that animals are put on display for human amusement, rather than for their own benefit. This can lead to all sorts of mental and physical health problems for the animals involved.

One study found that, due to the high levels of stress caused by being on public display, zoo elephants have shorter life spans than their wild counterparts.

This is exploitation, plain and simple, and it’s something that would never be tolerated if the animals involved were humans.

3. Animals in zoos are often separated from their families

In the wild, animals live in family groups or herds. But in zoos, animals are often separated from their families and put into enclosures with other animals that they wouldn’t normally socialize with.

Imagine if you were taken away from your family and put into a room with a bunch of strangers. You would probably be pretty stressed out, too.

4. Zoos cannot provide adequate enrichment for their animals

Enrichment is anything that keeps an animal’s mind active and engaged; it can be as simple as providing a toy for a dog to chew on or as complex as designing an obstacle course for apes to climb.

In zoos, however, enrichment is often lacking; animals may be given the same toys to play with day after day, with no variety or change. As a result, some animals become depressed or anxious, while others may develop obsessive-compulsive behaviors such as excessive grooming.

5. The animals are sometimes mistreated by staff

There have been numerous reports of animals being mistreated by zoo keepers and staff. For example, employees of the Papanack Zoo in Canada were caught on video abusing animals and locking them up in small, dark cages.

6. Many animals in zoos are not native to the climate where the zoo is located

This means that they often do not have the proper shelter, food, or water that they need to survive. For example, some zoos keep polar bears in hot climates, where they are unable to cool themselves off and are at risk for heat stroke.

Likewise, animals native to the tropics may be kept in cold climates, where they are unable to stay warm and are at risk for hypothermia.

7. Zoo food is often unhealthy and lacking in nutrition

Animals in zoos are typically fed an unhealthy diet of processed foods that lack the nutritional value that they would get from eating their natural diet in the wild.

In addition, many animals are given FDA-approved drugs such as antibiotics and hormones to prevent disease and promote growth—drugs that would not be necessary if they were living in their natural habitat.

8. Animals in zoos are frequently exposed to harmful visitors

Many people who visit zoos do not have any respect for the animals; they will shout, tap on the glass, throw things into the enclosure, and even reach into the cage to try to touch the animal—all of which can be terrifying (and sometimes dangerous) for the animal involved.

And in those rare instances where the animal fights back, they are usually the ones who suffer the consequences. For example, Harambe, a gorilla was shot and killed in 2016 after a child fell into its enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo.

9. Zoos frequently do not invest in conservation efforts

Despite what many people believe, zoos do not significantly contribute to global conservation efforts; instead, they tend to focus on captive breeding programs designed to maintain captive populations of endangered species.

While captive breeding can play a role in conservation efforts, it is important to remember that it cannot replace habitat preservation and protection—the only way to truly conserve endangered species is by preserving their natural habitat.

10. Zoos are unnecessary when you can watch animals in their natural habitat

There are many ways to watch animals in their natural habitat without having to visit a zoo; for example, you can go on a safari, take a nature hike, or even watch animals on TV or online.

And if you really want to get up close and personal with animals, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer at wildlife sanctuaries and rescue centers—places where animals are truly respected and cared for.

11. Animals do not belong in captivity

No matter how “nice” or “ humane” a zoo claims to be, animals do not belong in captivity; they belong in the wild where they can live free from harm.

Their natural habitat cannot be replicated in captivity, no matter how large the enclosure or how many toys and enrichment activities are provided.


Animals do not exist for our entertainment or amusement; they are sentient beings who deserve to be respected and treated with compassion.

Stealing them from their natural environments and putting them on display for disrespectful people to gawk at is cruel and exploitative, and it’s time for it to end.

There are many other ways to watch animals without supporting the cruelty of the zoo industry—ways that do not involve confining animals to small cages, subjecting them to a lifetime of captivity, and depriving them of their freedom.

Go on safari or take a nature hike—just don’t visit a zoo.