Each year hundreds, if not thousands, of people and families flock to the zoos all around the country to view animals they’ll never see in the wild. From tigers to elephants, the zoos of the world are packed with a menagerie of critters on display for the world to see.

However, there are many people that boycott the zoo and never take their children there. Why would you prohibit your child from the fun and joy of seeing a lioness lick her paws or penguins taking a swim? Here are five reasons why it’s be better for you to show your child pictures and videos of these animals in the wild instead of caged representations of them at the zoo.

Too Little Space

For a lot of animals, the space they are given to roam in zoos just aren’t enough. While not all zoos are the same, recent news is out that some of the zoos that have smaller spaces for their elephants are making some changes. The Oregon Zoo is building a new space for their oldest, most famous elephant, Packy. This change in layout is following the euthanization of Rama, Packy’s son, who was put down due to leg and foot injuries – all due to captivity.

Not Clean Enough

While the part of the zoo you see when you take a stroll may seem clean and spacious, most of the zoo animals spend night inside small cages where they may have to sleep in their own excrement, until the morning when they are released back into their daytime enclosure and cleaning commences. Trash is blown or even thrown into exhibits regularly which can be a major health hazard.

Bad Habitats

Zoos notoriously offer bad habitats for animals to live in. Animals used to a hot temperatures with dry air all year are forced to live in a zoo where there are frigid winters where they’ll have issues. The same goes for animals used to living in frigid temperatures being forced to endure 80 degree temperatures and higher while kids gawk at them behind fences.

Safety Concerns

A zoo can seem like the safest place on earth when you look at all the fencing. However, safety precautions for both the animals and humans aren’t always proficient. When animals escape from the zoo, they are often hunted down and killed because they could pose a danger to society. However, if they were left to live in the wild, they’d be less likely to even go near populated areas.

The Lies

You may buy into the fact that zoos are essentially animal sanctuaries where sick animals are nursed back to health and then kept to live long and happy lives. Many animals, including elephants, die at far younger ages in the zoo than they would if they lived in the wild where they belong. Perhaps you have seen animal activists outside zoos, similar to Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants, protesting the elephant breeding that furthers the abuse to continued generations. Famed actress, comedian, producer and advocate, Lily Tomlin, even wrote to the Oregon Zoo about retiring Packy to a real elephant sanctuary.

A recent investigation sparked by activists, Koin 6 News exposed the Oregon Zoo’s lies concerning each elephant’s medical records (which are now available to the public through Koin’s website). There is a surplus of evidence documenting previously refuted animal ailments, all due to the conditions the elephants have to put up with. There are multiple videos of the intelligent beings bobbing their heads, which is stereotypically anxious behavior of elephants chained and confined for extended periods of time, unable to achieve the exercise they’re born for. The zoo denied ever using chains and ailments, despite pictures exhibiting awful physical conditions, including abscesses and lesions on his body and feet, which Packy’s recently deceased son, Rama, was put down for. Additionally, Packy suffered from both anemia and tuberculosis, which lead to an over 500 pound weight loss. The Oregon Zoo has a history of putting elephants down due to mere leg infections and arthritis. Obviously, these kind of atrocities towards zoo animals happen all over the world in varying conditions. But overall, it’s not hard to see that animals in zoos live miserable, confined lives that threaten their health. It’s abuse. And the people who take care of them aren’t nearly as trustworthy as we all grew up thinking.

If you took some time to do some research you could probably find some good things that zoos do. But take that info with a grain of salt, because the facts are: the bad will outweigh the good. Don’t support zoos.


Do you think zoos are good or bad places for animals? Do you ever visit the zoo? Do you think schools should continue taking young kids on field trips there?

Additional Image: Flickr / John Morton



Yvonne Stegall
Yvonne Stegall
Yvonne Stegall has been a freelance writer for over 15 years. She has written for magazines, newspapers and all over the internet. Yvonne's main passions (other than writing) are health & wellness, pets and the paranormal. Yvonne is also a published author.