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Should lions be kept in zoos?

Friday 8th June 2018




We are often asked our opinion about keeping lions in zoos.

So here are our thoughts on the subject:

Our basic policy is that there should be no lion kept in a zoo unless there are clear conservation benefits for wild populations by doing so.

Zoos get around this by claiming that they conduct "conservation breeding" - whatever that is - and maintain populations of lions and other animals to facilitate reintroductions to the wild if such need arises.

Trouble is, reintroduction to the wild from a zoo population in the case of large predators is almost impossible as zoo animals have lost natural hunting instincts and are too habituated to humans. Apart from some claims by George Adamson, there has been no instance of successful reintroduction of any lion into the wild from a zoo source.

Zoos also claim to conserve wild populations by providing "education" to the public about the species but various organizations have shown that the public hardly take even minimal information about the animals on board when they visit zoos.

Zoos further claim that their captive populations are integral to research (on reproduction, vaccine development, veterinary research, physiology, etc) to benefit conservation in the wild, but again this "research" has little application to wild populations as zoo animals are kept under conditions that hardly resemble those of wild animals.

And finally, zoos claim to conserve wild populations by making "research grants" - but these are usually very limited in amount and continuity.

 The reason why zoos keep wildlife is for entertainment purposes, plain and simple.

Justifications citing the "greater good" for wild populations are mostly hollow and self-serving, but are trotted out to attempt to maintain a modicum of positivity among the public towards these establishments.  

Picture credit: Martin Fowkes

Tags: lions, zoos,

Categories: Extinction

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 15:43