Do wild animals belong in a zoo?

What does a zoo do for wildlife? The attitude towards them in our society is changing. People are wary of seeing wild animals behind glass or chain link fence. Sea World was arguably once universally recognized as park where children can go to become in awe in front of magnificent marine animals. Now they are being boycotted and protested.  Whether it’s to breed one of it’s rare animals or to euthanize one of the sick, every decision a zoo makes is questioned by the public.

In an ideal world, wild animals would be in the wild. They would have the freedom of movement. They would be able to live on their own accord without having to worry about interference from outside their environment.

The fact is, we don’t live in an ideal world. Wild animals all over the world are threatened by poaching and loss of habitat. Their food is disappearing. Herbivores are losing foliage and vegetation. Carnivores are losing their prey. Most of this is directly caused caused by human civilization. Multiple species of animals have gone extinct due to poaching, including the Western Black Rhinoceros, multiple subspecies of tigers, and countless more.

We have an obligation to care for these animals.

Snow Leopard at a zoo in Kansas.

A snow leopard at Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Goddard, KS.

Modern society has realized the damage we have done. Through campaigns to reduce our impact on the environment, we’re trying to reduce and reverse the negative impact we’ve had on wildlife. Zoos are an incredible tool in that fight. Not only are they great for keeping endangered animals from going completely extinct, they are also amazing sources of education, ensuring that generations of people learn to care about wildlife. Many renowned leaders and advocates for wildlife can attribute that love to seeing these animals up close at a zoo, myself included. Go to any zoo and ask what they’re doing for wildlife, and they will pridefully tell you about all the research they fund, the captive release programs they have, and every other program they run to be on the front lines of helping wildlife.

We have an obligation to care for these animals. Their habitats are being destroyed and they’re being hunted to extinction. Most of the wildlife in captivity wouldn’t survive in the wild, even if there was any place to put them. The animals are there in captivity, we are already using that to help wildlife everywhere.


The WildHeart Foundation’s stance on wildlife in captivity is simple: we just want them to be as happy as they can and to live the best life possible. Help us on our mission: donate here.