A debate that has recently been brought into focus in the public eye is that of whether wild animals should be kept in aquariums, zoos, and other wildlife sanctuaries. Recent tragedies, like the one at Sea World in Orlando, Florida, where a trainer was dragged to her death by a whale, has increased continued scrutiny on the needs of wildlife and how captivity hinders their physical and psychological well-being. Some argue that animals in captivity provide a number of services for both the animal kingdom and humans. Others contend that the benefits are small or can be achieved by some other means. Indeed, when one examines the opinions in favor of keeping wild animals in captivity, such as in a zoo, one finds that these arguments can be discounted with viable alternatives that are more humane in the treatment of wild animals. In effect, keeping animals in zoos is not justifiable.
One reason that zoos and wildlife sanctuaries are so popular is that they feed a major tourist industry world-wide (Woods, 2002). Cities certainly do not want to lose revenue by dismantling their zoos. In addition, they argue that zoos provide a way for the.
public to view animals up close which they might never see in person otherwise. Zoo officials also insist that animals in captivity are well cared for and are made comfortable in natural-like settings. However, although the zoological industry goes to great expense and trouble to provide animals with a simulation of a natural habitat, it is a costly and time-consuming enterprise. Animals do not typically have access to vegetation. Dirt and grass contain harmful bacteria, and animals do fight among themselves. Furthermore, Woods (2012) cites some studies that indicate that the educational benefits of zoos are minimal. Besides, animals tend to stay out of sight of humans if their zoological habitats allow it. Furthermore, zoo animals suffer from freedom to move and to socialize.