In what ways do zoos impact both society and the animals that live in them?

Expert Answers
jacquelineledoux eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Whether or not you think zoos are valuable for society is a matter of opinion. While it's up to you to determine how you feel about the matter and, in turn, decide which stance you'd like to take when writing your paper, I can provide you with a few facts.

Positive Impact of Zoos:

  • Zoos are educational
  • Zoos provide safety for endangered species 
  • Some zoos have captive breeding programs
  • Zoos allow people to interact with animals
  • Zoos can inspire people to donate to conservation efforts

Negative Impact of Zoos:

  • Captivity is less preferable to living in the wild (obviously)
  • Animals living in zoos can suffer from psychological duress/health issues
  • Recreating the "perfect" natural environment is extremely difficult
  • The Animal Welfare Act is made up of only minimum standards
  • Many captive breeding programs don't release the animals back into the wild

Those are just a few general pros and cons about zoos.

While you may form your opinion based on those facts alone, I would encourage you to remind yourself that different zoos have different standards and that all animals are individuals.

For example, two elephants could share the same habitat in the same zoo but one might be completely content and healthy while the other is totally miserable and stressed out.

It's hard to make assumptions about whether zoos are good or bad because, just like humans, individual animals react to the same stimuli in different ways.

One thing you should keep in mind when writing, though, is that, despite the contrasting ways they go about it, both zoo supporters and zoo opponents just want what's best for the animals.