Dealing with Ethics and Morals means distinguishing the difference between “good and bad” or “right and wrong". Ethics are external. They can be codes of conduct you follow at school or work or a list of rules to follow. Morality, on the other hand, is internal. It is your own personal belief about what is right and wrong.
When your morality doesn’t line up with the ethics of the institutions that you live with, it may cause negative emotions in you.
If you are the kind of person who loves going to the Zoo and watch the animals but feels challenged by your morality, thinking Zoos are bad for the animals, you are not alone. This is one of the most common dilemmas people with a tuned moral compass encounter when it comes to Zoos, Aquariums, and Animal Sanctuaries.
To answer this ethical concern we need to understand that the central ethical justification for many zoos and aquariums in the modern world is their commitment to conservation.
Above profits, an Ethical Zoo prioritizes Conservation, Education, and Research programs that are designed to preserve and protect wild populations of animals as well as educate the public about the threats that face them. Many Zoos in the world are doing fundamental work in saving species from extinction. They work on conservation plans to save and conserve wildlife and minimize the number of threats by providing suitable habitat, food, shelter, and veterinary care.
What you should know to be able to identify whether a zoo is ethically-conscious or not?
Ethical Zoos acquire animals from ex-situ breading programs instead of directly from the wild. This acquisition process of animals requires deep planning and zoos avoid changing the habitat of animals so they adopt animals from breeding programs.
Interaction with animals
Ethical Zoos do not allow human-animal interaction. They just allow watching animals in natural sitting and respecting this from a distance. They try to take care of their animals as well as visitors too. Riding on animals, cuddling, and performing tricks are not a sign of an Ethical Zoo.
A good way to find whether a zoo is ethical or not is by seeing their enclosures either through photos or videos. Photos showing the animal enclosures' size, cleanliness, feeding, and how closely they mimic their habitat are good indicators to judge the intentions of the zoo.
Accreditation is important
Zoo Accreditation is an official recognition and approval of a zoo, aquarium, wildlife park, or sanctuary by a group of experts. It can be regional, national, or international. Having an accreditation means zoos maintain the highest standards of care for animals and also provide funds worldwide for conservation programs.
A reputable zoo will use the financial earnings for developing more conservation, education, and research programs, in the rehabilitation of animals, in their veterinary care, and in providing them comfort. You can always check the zoo's website to know if they are involved in these programs or not. If they don't provide this information, alarm bells should go off in your head and you might want to reconsider your visit.
Zoos are not just a source of entertainment. They also provide information about animals, their habitat, their food, their habits, and many other things. They play an important role in the conservation of threatened animals by reducing the risk of extinction. Observing and studying animals in captivity, allows zoos to provide valuable and practical information that may be difficult or impossible to gather in the wild.
We need to praise and acknowledge their efforts by visiting the zoos and by contributing to help them create the best possible environment for animals living there and to continue with the great conservation work that they do.