Just about every zoo in the world claims to be actively involved in the preservation and conservation of wild animals.
The question is, what are zoos actually doing, and how much of your admission fee is being put to use?
When it comes to research, species preservation, and reintroduction, not all zoos are created equal.
The unfortunate fact is that only 5% to 10% of all zoos and aquariums have any involvement with wild or captive conservation programs.
While some zoos go above and beyond by funding field expeditions and research, other zoos make decisions that actually hurt wild animal populations.
In 2003, the San Diego Zoo and Lowry Park Zoo captured 11 African elephants in Swaziland for display in the United States.
The zoos claimed that they saved the elephants from being euthanized due to overpopulation.
The Save Wild Elephants Coalition confirmed that several sanctuaries in Africa had offered to take the elephants. This capture had a detrimental affect on the already fragile population of elephants that were designated as threatened.
Preservation and Conservation
When it comes to zoo contributions, a study in 1999 revealed that accredited zoos and aquariums donate only one-tenth of 1% of their budget to conservation.
If zoos want to make a difference in the mass extinction that many species currently face, it has been suggested that they allocate at least 10% of their income to conservation efforts.
It is also important to consider the great cost of keeping animals in zoos compared to keeping them in wildlife preserves.
AZA accredited zoos spend an annual $16 million on elephants in captivity. That’s $58,000 per year to keep one elephant in captivity.
The Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya protects 1,400 elephants with an annual operating budget of $400,000, costing less than $300 annually to take care of one elephant.
The issues of surplus animals, and the human and animal deaths that occur in zoos, are enough to deem these facilities morally questionable.
The negative aspects of zoos greatly outweigh the positives.
Knowing that God expects us to watch over animals, we can conclude that it is not His will to have them suffering in cages for our entertainment.