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What do Zoos do for animals and the environment?

What do Zoos do for animals and the environment?

Zoos often get a bad rap. Some people view zoos as nothing more than prisons for animals. While there are some legitimate concerns to be had, it’s also important to acknowledge the amount of good that many zoos do. In general, most work very hard to take care of animals and the environment.

 

Zoos help and protect their animals

Zoos do a lot for their animals. Hard-working zoologists understand the needs of their animals and provide the right food and care for them. When an animal gets sick, these experts know what treatments and medicines to give them in order to help them get better. As well, these animals live in well-maintained enclosures that mimic their natural environments, although admittedly far smaller.

 

Zoos protect wild animals too

Conservation is another way in which zoos help animals and the environment. Many have specific programs or centres that work to preserve and protect endangered species. The Centre for Conservation Research at the Calgary Zoo is a good example of this. The Centre engages in a number of programs intended to protect some of Canada’s most endangered animals, like the greater sage-grouse for example. Without programs like those at the Calgary Zoo, numerous species both across Canada and around the world would be further threatened or even extinct.

 

Zoos conduct research to do even better

Another benefit of zoos is the opportunity they give to researchers to learn more about animals. Some zoologists focus their research on animal behaviour while others, like those at the Centre for Conservation Research, investigate ways to maintain or even grow the populations of endangered species. By conducting research, zoologists learn more about their animals and accordingly are better able to meet their needs and protect them.

 

Zoos care about the environment

When they aren’t conserving or researching animals, zoos are often directly working to protect the environment. Many, both in Alberta and around the world, are adopting green and sustainable business practices. Again, the Calgary Zoo is a leader in this regard. The centre has established a thorough waste reduction program, recently built two LEED Gold Certified buildings (read more about sustainable buildings here), and implemented a number of energy saving measures.

 

Contrary to what some people think, zoos are not prisons for animals. Most strive to take good care of and protect their animals and many also engage in conservation, research, and environmental initiatives. Ultimately, while zoos remain primarily for entertainment, the benefits they provide both to animals and the earth make them more than worth while.

(Cover image provided by the Calgary Zoo)

Q&A with Lea Randall, Researcher at the Calgary Zoo’s Centre for Conservation Research

Q&A with Lea Randall, Researcher at the Calgary Zoo’s Centre for Conservation Research

This Term's Writer: Sofia Osborne

This Term's Writer: Sofia Osborne