Zoos Don’t Help Animals

There remains no compelling evidence for the claim that zoos and aquariums promote attitude change, education, or interest in conservation in visitors.

More here. HT Marc Bekoff who notes:

Elephants in captivity lived an average of 19 years compared to 56 years in the wild.

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  • http://www.google.com/reader/shared/saliency Scott

    Also a recent “How stuff works”, “stuff you should know” episode.

  • Robert Koslover

    Zoos are places that we go to see animals, to show them to our children (and thereby entertain them), and to learn (or help our children learn) more about animals. That, and some zoos are also places to see and learn something about plants. But help animals? Perhaps that applies to some especially- endangered animals, since I understand that at least some have been kept from extinction through the hard work of zookeepers. On the other hand, my local zoo includes some of the very same types of animals that I can also buy (nicely-butchered and packaged) at my local supermarket. So I think it is more accurate to say we “help ourselves to” those animals. And I think that’s A-OK. And nowadays, animals that taste good to humans seldom become endangered; it simply wouldn’t be good for business if they did!

    • http://lesswrong.com/ CannibalSmith

      Whales? Turtles?

  • josh

    Zoos are cool.

  • andrew c

    Huh? Someone did a study claiming to have evidence that visiting zoos changes people’s attitudes. Then someone else pointed out serious methodological problems with that study. From which you conclude ‘zoos don’t help animals’? Thanks now I have a headache.

  • Edward

    The first line is irrelevant. The second line: Elephants are more likely to be hunted or to suffer local environmental catastrophe in the wild, so zoo collections are insurance against extinction, which helps animals by increasing future expected population (isn’t this a repeated theme of this blog?).

  • frankl

    zoos are an interesting intersection of govt, charity, education and agriculture and travel – nonetheless, once our youngest gets to 8yrs of age, i don’t expect to return til i am a grandfather

  • http://www.gloria-trevi.com.mx Gloria Trevi

    Why is that? can you explain more why elephants dye faster? Where is the scientific evidence of that comment? when can we make a larger research?

  • Scott Bremner

    There are at least 2 types of Zoos: the first type has the specimens in confined cages clearly visible to all visitors (Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago) . The second type tries to make a natural setting and the specimens are able to avoid being seen. (Brookfield Zoo, Chicago). I prefer the Lincoln Park Zoo model. I go to the zoo to see animals. I do not want to see trees and shrubs. There are places that breed endangered and rare species; these animals will never be released into the wild.

  • http://google cheryl

    i think that all zoos have to have animals that can be let back into the wild so that they will not get hurt so much and they have a happy life in the wild.

  • mandi

    zoo’s were used as collections of animals (just like museums have collections of dead butterflies and skulls) in the days of the victorians, this too is where circuses come from. they have no place in this day and age. I used to think that zoos where great for conservation, they allowed people to find out more about them, become more aware of their plights in the wild, and allow people to want to become involved in the saving of endangered species. What I found out after working at a safari park and a massive zoo was – none of that is true. people go to zoos to look at animals, and they go home having had a nice day out, spent a load of money in the gift shop on shit they dont need, none of that money goes into helping animals in their natural habitats. Zoos put the con into conservation.
    The clue is in the name – enclosure. theyre closed in, elephants will walk 40 miles a day easily, elephants in european zoos are 50% heavier than their wild counterparts, a zoo will start to breed their females from 12 years and under, their wild counterparts wont do this until theyre 18-20 years – captive elephants are normally dead by this age. most calves that are born are stillborn or rejected from their mothers, it takes a whole herd of elephants to raise a calf – they just dont have those numbers in zoos – most are kept in herds of 2-6, in the wild that herd can be 20-30 + female elephants, consisting of sisters, aunties, mothers, grandmothers. i refuse to go back to another zoo, because what theyre doing, isnt helping anyone apart from lining their own pockets.

  • keira

    having zooz is a waste of time and cash.they are unffair how woulld you feall being a animal in a zoo i mean look at the second qwote lifes unfair in a zoo

  • keira

    lol