Animals in Captivity Term Paper

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Animals in Captivity

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Zoological parks and aquariums continue to exist because they have respect for dignity of the animals in their care. Zoos found in different locations of the world have their own code of animal welfare. The World Association of Zoos and Aquarium in a bid to develop an ethical tradition has come up with a standard of conduct for zoo keepers the world over. The zoo keepers are therefore compelled to adhere to the highest code of ethical conduct. Zoo keepers are therefore compelled to assist in achieving the conservation and survival of species. Any action they take must factor in the welfare of individual animal. Zoo keepers must promote the interests of wildlife conservation, biodiversity and animal welfare (WAZA, 2003). They have to co-cooperate with wider conservation community like the wildlife agencies, conservation organizations and research institutions. The proprietors of zoos must also co-operate with the governments in order to improve standards of animal welfare. They have to encourage research and dissemination of the research findings through publications and forums. Dissemination of professional information and advice should be done fairly. Zoos have always advanced that they take animals into their facilities to save the endangered species from going extinct and educate the public (Hediger, 1964). Animal rights activists on the other hand believe that the cost of keeping animals in the zoos outweigh the benefits accrued. They contend that keeping animals in a zoo is tantamount to violation of rights of individual animals which is unjustifiable. Is it ethical or unethical to keep animals in captivity? This paper shows why it is ethical to keep endangered animal species in zoos by providing examples from scientific researches and articles.

Term Paper on Animals in Captivity Assignment

Animals living in their natural habitats are faced with a lot of challenges that threaten them with extinction. Human activities continue to encroach on game reserves thus denying the wildlife their natural habitat. Poachers have also taken to killing wild animals for myriad reasons. Some of them benefit from selling game meat to the unsuspecting public while others kill animals like elephants because of the lucrative international market for their tusks. Those apposed to keeping animals in the zoos claim that animals kept in the zoo are denied the freedom of living in their natural habitats. They are either oblivious of the fact that zoos are normally built to conserve precious animal species or have just chosen to feign ignorance. By conserving endangered species, generations to come get to see these animals that if were left in natural habitat could go extinct (WAZA, 2003). It is evident that with the current changes in environment brought about by ecological vandalism the only sure way of ensuring that precious animal species are sustainably kept for posterity is by keeping them in a zoo. Animals in the wild are always struck down by natural predators and diseases. These limit their freedom. Animals cannot make choices and therefore the issue of denying them freedom should not arise.

Animal zoos serve as educational facilities. Those who go to the zoos are informed about the decrease in animal life. This stimulates sentiments that favor better protection. The zoo goers see the need for co-operating with other scientific bodies to secure perpetual preservation of higher vertebrates. Zoo goers learn the physiology and behaviors of various animals, the survival of endangered species and to be compassionate about animals (Leahy, 1991).

Animals kept in zoo are very instrumental in scientific research. Zoos fund field research by scientists; they employ other scientists as zoo staff and make animals available for study as long as the guidelines laid down by the zoo's ethical committee are adhered to. Animals kept in the zoo have been invaluable in behavioral research since they are free from predation. Such animals also exhibit a wider range of physical and behavioral characteristics that animals in the wild do not show (Lin, 2013). This allows scientists to view full range of their genetic possibilities.

Keeping animals in a zoo is not in any way unethical. In fact, animals kept in the zoo are treated with utmost care since their welfare is paramount to the proprietors of the zoos. If in ant case an animal is to be used in presentation, the presentation has to deliver a sound conservation message, focus on natural behavior and not demean or trivialize that particular animal in way (WAZA, 2003). Such presentations are never allowed to proceed if it appears that they compromise the welfare of an animal. Arguments have been advanced to the effect that animals kept in zoos are not given the freedom that their counterparts in natural habitat enjoy. This is not true because the off-limit areas in the zoos allow these animals sufficient space to express their natural behavior. Moreover, zoos have adequate items for these animals' behavioral enrichment. All exhibits used in the zoos are always of size and volume that allow animals to express their natural behaviors (WAZA, 2003). The enclosures normally allow for these animals' behavioral enrichment. The animals normally have areas to which they retreat and separate facilities like the cubbing dens where different animals are put. They are normally protected from conditions detrimental to their well-being. Appropriate husbandry standards are always adhered to in the animal zoos.

With regard to acquisition of animals, the expert input of the species coordinator is always sought and this is always adhered to whether the animal is to be used for conservation breeding program, education program or basic biological studies. Acquisition is normally done in such a manner that it never impacts the wild population negatively. In fact, it always the endeavor of the zoos to ensure that, the source of animals is confined to those born in human care (Ralls, Brugger & Ballou, 1979).

Facilities housing the zoos normally have appropriate facilities to hold the animals and skilled staff capable of maintaining high standards of husbandry and welfare. Animals transferred to the zoos are normally accompanied by appropriate records that indicate their health status, diet, reproductive and genetic status and behavioral characteristics (WAZA, 2003). The argument by those advancing that keeping animals in the zoos is unethical because such animals health requirements are not properly looked into is neither here nor there. The records that reflect the animals' health, diet and behavioral characteristics are integral for the management when it comes to making appropriate decisions regarding the future management of these animals (Peterson, 1989). Transfer of animals normally conforms to the international standards and laws that apply to specific species. Animals being transferred to the zoo are normally accompanied by qualified staff.

It is a fact that animals growing in the natural habitat have the freedom to freely interbreed as opposed to those kept in the zoos that are at times subjected to contraception. Those terming subjection of animals in the zoo to contraception unethical should know that contraception is only used wherever there is need for population management. In instances when contraception is used the possible side effects of both surgical and chemical contraception and its impact on the behavior of animal is first of all weighed before the actual process of contraception is initiated (WAZA, 2003).

Before any animal I the zoo is subjected to euthanasia, care is normally taken to ensure that the whole process is carries out in a manner that ensures the animal dies quick without suffering. Euthanasia normally conforms to local customs and laws. It is normally used in preference to keeping an animal alive under conditions which do not allow it to experience an appropriate quality of life (Lin, 2013). A post-mortem examination is normally performed and biological material preserved for purposes of research and conservation of gene.

Zoo keepers do not allow for mutilation of animals for cosmetic purposes or changing of the physical appearance of animals. Pinioning of birds for educational for management purposes only takes place when no other form of restraint is feasible (WAZA, 2003). Marking of animals for identification is normally carried out under professional supervision in a way that minimizes the animal suffering. There is nothing wrong with marking animals for identification. In fact, even human beings have unique identification that is given to them (Lin, 2013). It is funny that none has termed this unethical. It would be a hell of problem for zoo keepers to track development of different animal species if they are not marked leave alone administering treatment.

Zoos are always actively involved in research and scientific activities regarding their animals. The results from these researches are normally distributed to colleagues. Researches that zoos are normally involved in include exhibit design, observations, welfare, behavior, management practices, nutrition, animal husbandry, veterinary procedures and technologically assisted breeding techniques (Lin, 2013). Zoos therefore have research committee and properly constituted ethics committee that approve procedures used in conducting these researches. It is therefore very difficult for unethical research procedures arising from these researches. Invasive procedures used in medical researches are never performed on zoo animals (WAZA, 2003). Under circumstances when opportunistic collection of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Animals in Captivity" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Animals in Captivity.  (2013, April 7).  Retrieved June 24, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Animals in Captivity."  7 April 2013.  Web.  24 June 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Animals in Captivity."  April 7, 2013.  Accessed June 24, 2021.