A lot needs to be changed and improved at zoos in order to make sure that animals are kept in a better setting, although no setting can ever meet the environment that they are supposed to be in.
Whether or not keeping animals in zoos will protect endangered species from loss of habitat and commercial poaching, I am undecided. It would be ideal if that was actually the case, but I do not think that it is possible to achieve that. The issue with protecting these animals is sadly the fact that too much money is involved and we can’t protect the animals from people’s greed and dishonesty. Considering that, I do not think that zoos are bringing the end of certain species due to bad safety regulations because if anything, zoos are contributing to prolonging the life of certain animals, thus delaying their extinction.
In the recent case in which a gorilla was shot to save the life of a four-year-old boy, there was simply no other choice than to shoot him. It is definitely a horrific accident but it was something that we had no control over. It stuns me as to how the boy was able to get away with doing such without anyone noticing or doing anything about it. Everyone is to blame for this. However, if my dog bites someone while on a walk, irrespective of who walks him, I am to blame for that. With that in mind, the parents of the child are accountable as they would have probably kept the zoo accountable if it was the other way around, and the boy died.
Debating whether zoos should close down is not viable because letting these animals back to their natural habitat is not an option. Keeping them in captivity is the best option, however, it needs to be done in a proper way that protects the well being of the animal — and not for the sake of display. At the end of the day, these animals have provided human beings with great educational input, how else would we learn about these animals? In conclusioon, zoos have a right to exist, for the sake of education and protection of endangered species.
— The reader is a Dutch veterinarian based in Dubai