Jaco – Is It Time To Outlaw Zoos?

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Data pix.
ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - It's time to have a debate about zoos.  Zoos raise public awareness about animals. They also help save endangered species and perform basic scientific research. Zoos also rescue entire species from extinction and in absolutely the only thing Newt Gingrich and I agree on, we both love zoos. But maybe zoos shouldn't exist at all.

The St. Louis Zoo is a case in point, a world famous research institution? You bet. A place where generations have seen and come to appreciate animals? Yes indeed. Is it a global leader in research to save endangered species? It most certainly is. The zoo is all of that and more. However, since 2007 a number of animals have died there: seals, sea lions, chimpanzees, a gorilla and polar bears.

Animals die at zoos all over the world all the time. Sometimes it can't be avoided. Mostly the animals receive world class veterinary care. But a study from the University of Kent in England documents that mental illness is rampant among zoo chimpanzees worldwide. Abnormal behavior, self-mutilation and all sorts of behaviors one expects with mental illness.

A six year study from Canadian and British scientists found elephants in the wild live a good deal longer than their zoo captive cousins. There are zoos around the world that are significantly less caring and less scientific than St. Louis or other major zoos. Many in developing world or small town zoos end up abusing the animals.

So here's the question. Is it worth keeping animals locked up so we can see them? Is it worth risking physical and mental illness for the animals in the name of conservation and research? Should we have zoos? Or only a few tightly regulated and licensed


I'm Charles Jaco and that’s Jacology.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.