Zoos claim to educate people and preserve species, but they usually fall short on both counts.
Most zoo enclosures are very small, and rather than promoting respect or understanding of animals, signs often provide little more information than an animal’s species, diet, and natural range.
Animals’ normal behavior is seldom discussed, much less observed, because their natural needs are rarely met. Birds’ wings may be clipped so that they cannot fly, aquatic animals are often without adequate water, and many animals who live in large herds or family groups in nature are kept alone or, at most, in pairs. Natural hunting and mating behaviors are virtually eliminated by regulated feeding and breeding regimens. Animals are closely confined, lack privacy, and have little opportunity for mental stimulation or physical exercise. These conditions often result in abnormal and self-destructive behaviors or “zoochosis.”