Endangered Species in Zoos- Beneficial or Harmful?

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In the hot summer sun a hungry African lion paces back and forth in his cage. His instincts tell him to hunt, but he cannot. Instead, he restlessly eyes the doorway from which his food is brought to him. This brings a sad picture to mind, that of a wild animal held captive, unable to stalk his prey and revel in his catch when the chase is through. However, this lion’s natural African habitat is all but gone now; if he were in the wild, he might be on the edge of starvation, or more likely, in danger of being killed. A lion kept in a zoo is safe, but is he is no longer one of nature’s most feared hunters. At the heart of the matter is the decision to either keep him safe in a zoo or let him live in the wild, where he will be free, but in danger. “Zoos Can Benefit Wild Animals,” an Opposing Viewpoints article written by Jennifer A. Hurley, states that zoos are radically different places than they used to be. “Contemporary zoos reproduce natural habitats as accurately as possible” and animals are no longer held captive in small, cramped spaces (par. 4). In many cases, an animal’s natural habitat is no longer available, so the zoo habitat with its spacious roaming area and lush surroundings provides a place that the endangered animal could no longer find in the wild. Rather than supplying animals for public entertainment, the modern zoo’s focus is education of the public, inspiring and motivating people to advocate for environmental change. Many people feel passionately about the protection of animals, and each time a person visits a zoo there is a chance that he or she will be newly inspired to work for a better life for animals, especially those that are endangered.

In Hurley’s article, she also points out that “…endangered species have literally been brought back to life by the work of zoos” (par. 1)....
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