Are zoos a good thing?

Hands reaching out to touch an elephant's trunk

How do you feel about keeping animals in zoos? Read both sides of the argument to help you decide.


Do the preparation exercise first. Then read the text and do the other exercises.


Are zoos a good thing?

Zoos are hugely popular attractions for adults and children alike. But are they actually a good thing?

Critics of zoos would argue that animals often suffer physically and mentally by being enclosed. Even the best artificial environments can't come close to matching the space, diversity, and freedom that animals have in their natural habitats. This deprivation causes many zoo animals to become stressed or mentally ill. Capturing animals in the wild also causes much suffering by splitting up families. Some zoos make animals behave unnaturally: for example, marine parks often force dolphins and whales to perform tricks. These mammals may die decades earlier than their wild relatives, and some even try to commit suicide.

On the other hand, by bringing people and animals together, zoos have the potential to educate the public about conservation issues and inspire people to protect animals and their habitats. Some zoos provide a safe environment for animals which have been mistreated in circuses, or pets which have been abandoned. Zoos also carry out important research into subjects like animal behaviour and how to treat illnesses.

One of the most important modern functions of zoos is supporting international breeding programmes, particularly for endangered species. In the wild, some of the rarest species have difficulty in finding mates and breeding, and they might also be threatened by poachers, loss of their habitat and predators. A good zoo will enable these species to live and breed in a secure environment. In addition, as numbers of some wild species drop, there is an increased danger of populations becoming too genetically similar. Breeding programmes provide a safeguard: zoo-bred animals can be released into the wild to increase genetic diversity.

However, opponents of zoos say that the vast majority of captive breeding programmes do not release animals back into the wild. Surplus animals are sold not only to other zoos but also to circuses or hunting ranches in the US or South Africa, where some people are willing to pay a lot of money for the chance to kill an animal in a fenced enclosure. Often, these animals are familiar with humans and have very little chance of escaping.

So, are zoos good for animals or not? Perhaps it all depends on how well individual zoos are managed, and the benefits of zoos can surely outweigh their harmful effects. However, it is understandable that many people believe imprisoning animals for any reason is simply wrong.


What do you think about zoos? Are they a good thing, or is it cruel to keep animals in captivity?

Language level
Average: 4.3 (26 votes)
Personal online tutoring
EnglishScore Tutors is the British Council’s one-to-one tutoring platform for 13- to 17-year-olds.


Submitted by RAHUL RAHUL on Sat, 04/13/2024 - 09:41

I think animals should be free in their natural environment. Zoos are basically a prison for animals and a lot of the animals get abused. They get taken away from their families and homes and put on display for the public to see. A lot of sea animals need a pack to live

Submitted by Mr J on Wed, 02/07/2024 - 04:21

Motion: "Zoos are a good thing."

FOR: I agree that zoos are a good thing. This is because...
- S: Some zoos can protect animals by giving them healthy foods and safe habitat. For instance, some wild animals can’t find their habitat sometimes or their habitat have been destroy by people. Also, if the season turn winter, they can’t find food in the jungle. So, zoos can provide them enough and good food.
- H: When we want to see animals we don’t need to go to the jungle or sea or desert. Just go to zoo and we can see the animal, at there. Additionally, if you have children or friend you can go with them and you will have fun. For instance, when your children didn’t saw animals before and you can take them to the zoo and see animals or animals show.
- R: Zoos can show us animals we haven’t sees before. Moreover, zoos can protect endangered animals. For example, like pandas. Zoos in China can protect pandas, and to show us. There’s more panda in the world.

AGAINST: In my opinion, zoos are a bad thing. This is because...
- Z: Animals which working at zoos without pay-off. Most of the profit from tickets it actually won’t be spend on animals. If you’re the animal in the zoo, you’re to working compulsory. Even they catch you without your permission. It just let me associated slavery. A majority of animals living in zoos lifespan are reduced a huge gap compare with wild animals according scientific experiment.
- Ri: It could harm people. My reason for this is zoos has to much animals so they are spending to much money for the animals and they don’t have anymore money so the people would be stressed for money. So that is good thing to kill animal. For example, the spend food, water and everything. What animal wants so that you kill animals and gets less money.
- SA: Animals need to be free because they feel stress and some zoos can kill animals. For example, if people are stuck in the cage, they will be crazy like animals too! And last time a giraffe was dead.

Submitted by Teddygoldinou75015 on Tue, 12/12/2023 - 12:42

I think zoo are bad. They shouldn't exist because animals are locked for their whole life, they see everyday the same things, the same landscapes, they can't walk away, they can't do anything, they don't have their perfect environment. They see everyday humans who look them. They are in prison. Humans go in prison if they do something bad, animals in zoo are in prison because humans decided it. They don't ask permission. They do. It's horrible. Imagine yourself in prison because something decided to? We can understand because we ARE animals.

Submitted by han_ene_kjekke… on Mon, 09/04/2023 - 09:07

My opinion is that zoos should not be illegal and that free enterprise is more important than just a couple of common animals. But when it comes to endangered animals it's a whole other story. They should either not be in zoos or only be in zoos operated or run by the government or regulated by the government. The reason I say this is because it's very easy to abuse the fact that you have a rare species to make money if you are a private company. But if the government does not have the financial motivation or the approval from the press to pull something like this off.

Submitted by Poffen09 on Mon, 09/04/2023 - 08:57

The zoos, the place where animals are kept in against their will. The Animals have borders and a environment that is far from what they could have lived in, they have no choice other then to just sit there. Think about that, you just sit in a environment that you can´t escape(sounds like school). As you may have understood, I am against zoos. You may ask why, the reason is freedom. Even though one may think they save some species from dying, they keep animals that aren´t endangered. And all of this is for your entertainment. Don't you think that they should be released and live their life out.

Submitted by nafra003 on Mon, 09/04/2023 - 08:55

I think animals should be free in their natural environment. Zoos are basically a prison for animals and a lot of the animals get abused. They get taken away from their families and homes and put on display for the public to see. A lot of sea animals need a pack to live. It is actually illegal in some places to have only one dolphin, or any other sea animal of that sort captured. This is because in some situations they end up committing suicide. I get that it is entertaining to watch but is it really worth it? Sacrificing almost entire species and lives? Some zoos are good tho, because they are rescue zoos. They take in injured animals and give them a home and let them go back to nature when they are fine again. That i think is okey, but the entertainment kind is just horrible.

Submitted by Hello hello he… on Mon, 09/04/2023 - 08:49

I think that whether a zoo is good or not demands on how they treat their animals. If the animal attempts to commit suicide there is obviously something wrong, but if they treat their animals well and feed them well I think it could be a good way to educate children on animals and how to care of them. There are multiple downsides, but also a lot of good sides. In my opinion we should keep zoos, but make them more surveillanced and force them to take way better care of the animals.

Submitted by Sophie.1234 on Thu, 08/31/2023 - 08:33

I think zoos are a great attraction for learning and entertainment. However, some zoos don’t treat their animals good at all. Some zoos don’t give their animals enough food or a big enough habitat to live in.
One thing that was mentioned in the text was that multiple dolphins and whales try to commit suicide, because they don’t want to be in captivity anymore. And instead of trying to escape, which is almost impossible they commit suicide, so they don’t have be in captivity anymore. I think it’s sad that animals want to commit suicide because they get treated badly, and I want that to stop.
Zoos also sometimes take animals away from their family without knowing, most of the time thy take their child away from their mother. Many animals have a hard time surviving without a parent that can teach them how to live life.’
I do also think zoos sometimes zoos save animals, but I don’t think they like being on display for humans, instead I think they should get the help that’s needed without having to be in a zoo.

Submitted by Dennisbro09 on Thu, 08/31/2023 - 08:20

I think that zoos can be a little cruel for animals because they have to live in a climate that is not good for every animal and they also have small space to live in. The good thing is they are well looked after and get the food and things they need wich can be hard in their habitats. They also prevent some animals that are in danger because of climate change. Most zoos put in as much animals as possible and i dnt think that is good. My suggestion is that they take foraxample the animals in danger or if they hurt and the can been taken care of theire while people can visit, when the animals is cured again or they have a nice place to stay in they can realese them and find new animals that have the same problem

Submitted by daena007 on Thu, 08/31/2023 - 08:06

i think zoos are a good way to teach small kids abaot animals and have fun

Submitted by Janiboy23213 on Thu, 08/31/2023 - 08:05

I think that zoos are a good thing. Zoos keep an safe environment for the animals and they help with mating and safety for the Endangered species. Without zoos soo many species wouldnt exist right now.

Submitted by Slade on Thu, 08/10/2023 - 05:54

I think zoos are not a good things for animals. I prefer them to live in their natural environment. Even though zoos can provide breeding programs, medicine process and other good things , most animals will live longevity in their natural environment in excess of zoo.

Submitted by mariyka.prohorova on Sun, 07/02/2023 - 11:00

I think there are good zoos in which animals are really given a good place to live, they are fed well and so on, and by the way, zoos in which animals are not valued, they live incomprehensibly how and this causes a lot of deaths.

Submitted by pomelo on Fri, 04/07/2023 - 14:25

I don’t think that zoos are a good thing for animals.

Submitted by student19 on Tue, 03/14/2023 - 14:49

I don’t think that zoos are a good thing for animals, this is because zoos will never be able to recreate the size of the animals’ natural habitat. In conclusion, animals could feel depressed because of them being enclosed.

Submitted by Amanda_Nay Chi on Wed, 11/16/2022 - 05:40

I used to like going to zoos when I was young. It was an enjoyable and unforgettable memory for me to be able to see a variety of animals I had never seen before. But now I realized it's like a cage and prison for most animals and it really broke my heart. There are many advantages and disadvantages for zoos but I genuinely think it's still wrong to keep animals in zoos forever and not let them back in the wild. Of course, helping them breed safely in the zoo and with protection is a good thing, but since most of the zoos didn't release them back is a hard reality.

Submitted by lucalvesilva on Fri, 06/10/2022 - 09:55

Like everything, zoos have benefits and drawbacks. I don't believe that we should ban since in terms of scientific research, it can be considered that zoos are really useful and important. It's a good way as well to protect animals from extinction, for instance. On the other hand, regulations must be done to assure it and protecting animals from abuses and violence inside the zoos. In addition, it's critical that the people claim for public policies for conservation.

Submitted by 10AN615 on Tue, 06/07/2022 - 18:30

I don't like zoos I would love for an animal to be free I don't go to the zoo it's best to leave the animals in nature
Profile picture for user Capixt

Submitted by Capixt on Tue, 05/31/2022 - 00:29

Talking about my country the zoo is horrible, I´m not sure if they taking care of the animals... I rarely go to the zoo because I don´t like see animal like in prison, the have small spaces for all the animals... this is too cruel, animals, are not to have on display, animals are made to be wild and free.
Profile picture for user Darkside

Submitted by Darkside on Wed, 12/15/2021 - 06:39

I think it depends on kind of animals. Sometimes if an animal would be free, it might be catch by predator. But some animals in the zoo might miss their natural environment. It's a difficult thing actually, but generally I prefer leave animals in nature

Submitted by vlampert on Sun, 12/12/2021 - 23:14

Undeniably, zoos are one of the greatest attractions in a city. They have a huge impact on our culture in the 21st century. There are cartoons, books, series, and lots of other things being about or mentioning zoos at some point. But I don't think they're necessarily a good thing. To start, I see zoos as a double-edged sword. They are longstanding places, that can save the animals from the dangers from the wilderness and extinction, and it can also be a really interesting place, discovering species and more, which in theory is a good proposal. They are also where kidnapped animals become alienated, are indirectly tortured, and forced to live their lives in a box. This is a dark concept, but it is what happens in the majority of zoos. Many consider zoos prisons. In conclusion, I think the concept of zoos are great, saving animals from dangers and preserving species, but they're applied in the wrong way. I feel like animal sanctuaries are a better alternative to zoos. If the problem is that animals are in some kind of a prison, where they don't have freedom, an animal sanctuary is a better option than zoos. Although they are not as open to the public as zoos, they can be open to school excursions, for example.

Submitted by strawberry123_ on Sat, 07/31/2021 - 14:07

I think that zoos have both advantages and disadvantages. Firstly, as was said in the text, there are a lot od disadvantages in the wild too, for example, poachers. But in some zoos conditions are awful. So, I think at totally depends on a zoo.

Submitted by m_lys123 on Sun, 05/23/2021 - 16:03

Zoos should be banned: a for and against essay Throughout the past few years, many people have been debating on whether zoos are actually relevant in this day and age. Undeniably, since they still exist, it means that the cons of banning them overweigh. Or do they, actually? Certainly, zoos can be considered as a great source of entertainment for people of various ages. Lots of families have the opportunity to visit and teach their children about numerous animal species which they alternatively could only view in textbooks. Another explanation as to why these places are currently beneficial is the fact that the existence of zoos creates many job opportunities, which in result boosts the country’s economy. These justifications are probably the main reasons for why zoos remain to this day. However, it is definitely worth mentioning that there are quite a lot of disadvantages regarding the existence of zoos. First of all, even if being there brings lots of enjoyment to people, it may be rather on the contrary for the actual animals. No living creature wants to spend it’s whole life being stared at and contained in a cage, overall. Surely, animals deserve to live in their natural habitat. Second of all, it is crucial to remember that the amount of deaths which occur at zoos every year must not be ignored. A good example would be Harambe, a monkey who got killed by zoo officials to ensure the safety of a three-year-old boy, who climbed into the gorilla enclosure on May 28, 2016. As many state, this was not at all necessary and could have been avoided. To sum it up, I believe that there are reasons for the existence of zoos, since they employ lots of people and bring entertainment to many families. Nevertheless, in my opinion, the extent of danger that comes from these places overweighs the perks significantly.
Profile picture for user Benjamin2009

Submitted by Benjamin2009 on Thu, 06/01/2023 - 15:08

But it also has its benefits. Agreed, we don't let that animal just spend the day in their cage. But there are also benefits to it:
1.No zoo also means not seeing the natural beauty of the ecosystem. Although we can see the trees, the air is not as fresh as the zoo.
2. About the boy Harambe, actually for some reason the zoo accidentally or intentionally made that cage, and the boy deliberately climbed in, agreeing not to kill the gorillas, but there is a reason . for a number of reasons.

Everything has its bad side, but it also has its good side.

In reply to by m_lys123

Submitted by Teddygoldinou75015 on Tue, 12/12/2023 - 12:31

You are alright! Animals in zoo are sad! They don't live! They dies!

In reply to by m_lys123

Profile picture for user Kimchi

Submitted by Kimchi on Sat, 04/24/2021 - 12:38

I think that zoos must be more closed and people shouldn't stress and touch animals. We must reduce the number of tourists. As VR is getting better we can hope for virtual zoos? But does it even makes any sense?

Submitted by Ilias6997 on Tue, 06/08/2021 - 19:34

I think people should invest the money, which they made of the earnings of the zoo, to Protect the animals in their natural environment. The ought to maintain the animals and obviously keep them safe of the poachers.

In reply to by Kimchi

Profile picture for user Kostantinus

Submitted by Kostantinus on Sun, 02/28/2021 - 06:50

It is a coin with two sides. On the one hand, animals which are kept in the zoos have safer life, always have food, although the quality of food isn't always perfect. It's easier for them to find their mates for breeding what can help to conservate and protect the endngered species. On the other hand, as the author said, the animals in the zoos lack natural necessary habitat. The food given to them not always very good and fresh. The space isn't enough big and, of course, sometimes they forsed to perform for the visitors. This fact can cause some illnesses and therefore shortened their life span. To sum up, the issue about do zoos good or bad things depends on zoos' management and many different facts. There are two sides of the medal.

Submitted by lama on Sun, 12/27/2020 - 11:43

I think zoos are both good and bad. The downside is that animals need to live in the habitat and live in their environment, people never want to live in a cage. Animals never want to live in a cage, but they live in cages in zoos. The good news is that animals can easily find food. Zoo workers feed and take care of them. Animals can find mates more easily in the zoo than in nature.

Submitted by Jenny201 on Sun, 11/01/2020 - 01:20

I think everything in life has to be a double-edged sword that is both positive and negative. About positive aspects, most of the large, zoos are doing great work at helping to educate people and also helping conserve many of the endangered species. In other words, zoos save the genes of endangered species for future preservation attempts and captivate visitors, educate them about the value of wild animals, and why we have a responsibility to protect them. Regarding negative aspects, animals have to suffer in zoos. They get depressed, psychologically disturbed, frustrated, they harm each other, become ill, go hungry, and are forced to endure extreme and unnatural temperatures. It's cruel to use them for research. In general, we have to know what's good for them and improve an environment close to them. Don't just care about our purpose!!!

Submitted by aljmnz on Thu, 10/29/2020 - 01:38

I think it depends on the circumstances in which it is used. If it´s used for entertainment and pleasure, its a very cruel thing. But in the other hand , if it helps to preseve te species and take care of them in case they are endangered, I thinks its a good thing.
Profile picture for user Kalenkhoe

Submitted by Kalenkhoe on Mon, 08/17/2020 - 17:19

I agree with the writer that it depends on the management of zoo and indeed benefits of zoos outweigh its harm. Although, noone should be allowed to captivate animals or birds in cages for sake of pleasure.

Submitted by AREVALOo on Wed, 08/05/2020 - 12:37

I think it is something very cruel and zoos should not exist, less those that help preserve species, in that case if it is okay that they exist.
Profile picture for user IGYOON

Submitted by IGYOON on Sun, 07/19/2020 - 10:52

I think its never a good idea to keep animals at the zoo. Because the animals needs freedom . They should be independent. its also not a lie that they harm people but maybe only the savage going animals should be taken to zoo. And about the scientific research the animals should be taken to the zoo but later on they needs to be given back to the nature. And sometimes keeping animals at the zoo is the main cause for extinction of most of the animals.

Submitted by ThanhBong on Fri, 07/10/2020 - 14:54

Zoos are places where animals feel safe and they are maintained. They are also developed in natural environment and they are protected by staff here. So, zoos are a good thing.

Submitted by kimthao_60nna2 on Wed, 07/08/2020 - 07:49

I am sure that animals that are raised in zoos are less vulnerable. They will be protected and taken care of by qualified personnel. Its provides a suitable environment for them to thrive as well as they live in the wild. In addition to, preventing from the negative effects of humans on animals. That can be the best way to protect them.

Submitted by kimphung6569 on Wed, 07/01/2020 - 13:55

I claim that zoo may be good or not for animals cause it depends on how well zoo are managed and organized. Some species should be live in their nature environment such as tiger, bear, lion to avoid depression or mental illnesses and develop their inner wild. Besides, several species which is endangered should be kept in zoos to protect them from extinct like Panda. Eventually, the awareness is most important of people who visit the zoo and contact with animals.

Submitted by AyuNguyen on Sun, 06/21/2020 - 15:40

Zoos are both good and bad for animals. On the good side, it is possible to protect them from hunters. There are some zoos with good conditions to protect animals, sometimes they live here better than living alone in the middle of nature. However, there are zoos where animals can only stay in small cages or they are beaten, tamed to serve visitors. They gradually lose their inherent instincts and only do what is taught. Worse still, there are places that are known as zoos but are actually places that trade and breed illegal animals. This is awful! So, I think that it is better for them to live in wildlife sanctuaries than in zoos. Not only live more free, it also protect them.
Profile picture for user Yennhi

Submitted by Yennhi on Sun, 06/21/2020 - 03:15

I consider that keeping animals in zoos has both advantages and disadvantages. Firstly, people will keep an eye on their health and provide foods for their lives. However, we cant actually do sure that it makes animals comfortable , it's unnatural and makes them lonely. They do not adapt to the environment instantly, even die. So zoos are good or not depend on individual manager and human's awareness

Submitted by thaoyen258 on Fri, 06/19/2020 - 09:15

In my point of view, keeping animals in the zoo is a good way because it would be safer for animals and they won't be extinct. The amount of them dying by hunters or any other reason, still higher than the chances of their survival...Letting them loose and returning them to the wild is not necessarily a safe option. Zoo brings certain benefits like is the only place that we can have an opportunity to see animals life really close and sometimes we can touch them. Zoos also provide lots of information about certain animals, children can have chance to get out of the classroom and learn so they can see natural beauty from different species of animals. In conclusion, I fully support keeping animals in the zoo

Submitted by Trinh123 on Thu, 06/18/2020 - 14:02

In my opinion, It is cruel to keep animals in the zoo. If people always want the needs for freedom and happiness, so do animals. Today, to attract tourists, most animals in the zoo are beaten and forced to do things that they do not want. That is very cruel. Although some zoos provide a safe environment for animals, I think we should release them into the natural environment, so that they exist according to the laws of nature.

Submitted by thuchien on Thu, 06/18/2020 - 01:12

I think zoos are a good and bad thing. Firstly, animals which live in zoos are protected, so they live without any risk of being attacked. Secondly, they are fed and checked regularly so the incidence will be low. However, living in zoos can make them lose some of their natural instincts and abilities. The animals have limited choice in habitats and mates.

Submitted by HamyNguyen10 on Thu, 04/16/2020 - 03:56

Well! Do you believe that zoo are completely cruel to animals? I consider that keeping animals in zoo has both advantages and disavantages. First of all, people will keep an eye on their health and provide food also water for their lives. Furthermore, People can watch the way animals live and behave even educate them for intelligent reply. However, we can't actually do sure that it makes animals comfortable. Obviously, it's unnatural and perhap make them lonely and not adapt to the environment instantly even die.So, zoo are good or not?it depends on individual manages and human's awareness.
Profile picture for user Giovannichoi

Submitted by Giovannichoi on Fri, 03/27/2020 - 07:20

I used to enjoy going to a zoo when I was young, but I agree with the opponent side. Because even though the animals were released, those can't be adjust with the wild or their own habitate. Also, the cages and the aquariums in zoo are very small for them, so those will be stressed more and fight with themselves for the places. There was a fact that the noises of the tourists (or else) make animals to die earlier than their averaged age. The best thing to do for the enclosure animals is don't make any more zoos. In my opinion, I think it's better to make shelter or conservation place or nature preserve for the wild animals like DMZ in Korea. Artificial environment cannot be compared with real wild. So, I think trying to preserve the nature well for the endangered species' breed is the most important thing
Profile picture for user pidixtoulis

Submitted by pidixtoulis on Mon, 03/16/2020 - 15:55

I believe that there are some advantages and some disadvantages on this issue, because zoo is made for people's entertainment, but animals may not find this entertaining

Submitted by Elife on Tue, 02/11/2020 - 23:08

In my opinion, the zoos is good things and cruel to keep animals in captivity. This depends on the responsibility with zoos, some help animals and give a better lifestyle, and others do not.
English courses near you