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Zoos: The Federal Animal Welfare Act

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Zoos often claim they are modern day arks, providing a safe, comfortable environment; making animals happy and content; educating the world about wildlife; and saving species from the brink of extinction while at the same time providing vital research into the lives of animals. There is a moral presumption against keeping wild, defenseless animals in captivity. The zoo is a prison for animals who have been sentenced without a trial. Either we have duties to animals or we do not. I feel that we have a duty and responsibility to animals and need to provide them with respect not neglect.
Living conditions are crucial to an animal’s survival. Captivity cannot begin to replicate what it means to be free. Living in an enclosed prison cell, animals are prevented from natural activities like running, roaming, flying, climbing, foraging, choosing a partner, and being with others of their own kind (“Pitiful Prisons”). Zoos also cannot provide the amount of space animals have in the wild especially for species who roam larger distances in their natural habitat. “Tigers and lions have around 18,000 times less space in zoos than would in the wild. Polar bears have one million times less space” (10 Facts About Zoos). The federal Animal Welfare Act establishes only the most minimal standards for cage size, shelter, health care, ventilation, fencing, food and water. A zoo is no place like home.
Zoo animals’ behavior reflect their feelings. Behavioral research conducted on zoo animals is controversial because nothing can be learned by studying animals that are kept in unnatural conditions. Environments trigger behaviors. The Born Free Foundation in the United Kingdom has investigated how animals feel about captivity by studying t...

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