University of Bristol
Wellcome Trust
Recommended by:
Society of Biology
PEEP for Physics & Ethics at GCSE


A 1950's TV picture of three men debatingZoo Activities - A debate

Debate the following proposition:
‘Zoos are cruel places and they cannot be justified
on the grounds of their contributions towards conservation.’

Many people objected to Zoos because of their experiences of a few decades ago, when zoos housed animals in small unnatural cages. Modern Zoos have removed many of these early objections and now justify their existence on educational and conservation grounds.

Activity:  Using the table below, decide on your own personal position with regard to zoos and try and support or object to the question:

‘Zoos are cruel places and they cannot be justified on the grounds of their contributions towards conservation?’



Zoos are good places for learning positive attitudes towards animals

Some zoos can do the opposite

Zoos are good places to learn about animal behaviour.

Animals in captivity do not behave naturally and even become stressed.

Zoos are excellent educational resources.

Some zoos have no educational programmes both for schools and the general public.

Using living animals is the best way to inspire people to care and learn about conservation.

Conservation is about habitats not specific animals in artificial environments, such as a zoo.

Zoos have saved some species from extinction.

Zoos keep many species that are not endangered.

Breeding in zoos can ease pressures on wild animal populations. Most zoo animals are zoo bred.

There is still an illegal trade in wild caught animals – some of these are even bought by zoos.

Zoo animals can be reintroduced back into the wild.

Only a few have been released successfully, often because their habitat has been destroyed.

Zoos are leisure facilities and people enjoy zoos.

People tease animals and make them perform. Some zoos are purely there to make money by exploiting animals.

Animals have a safe home and have excellent health and plenty of food. They also live longer.

Some animals do not respond well to captivity. They behave in an ,un-natural’ way which is cruel. Space is also very limited for some species.


 Seed banks


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