Greenwashing Zoos

There are several conservation benefits that are claimed by zoos, things like how zoos preserve the collections of animals, they protect endangered species of many at-risk animals, they are a safe-haven for animals, but in fact don’t zoos actually rob animals of their own natural, normal life? In many ways zoos have tried to fight their position as “Wildlife Conservationists,” but the fact is that wildlife conservationists should restore habits and be able to reintroduce these species back into the wild. Yet, the animals that are presented in zoos are rarely introduced back into the environment. In fact, I would argue that zoos care more about conserving their own stocks of animals in their zoos than the animals and species outside in the wild. Although, zoos had a good intention to protect and conserve animal species, it has only turned into a way that eco-tourism has taken over to create a market value from the observation of animals. Zoos have used their good intentions to present an ‘eco-friendly’ solution to the protection of animals, but instead have captured these animals and robbed them of their normal life and have charged people to see these exploited animals.
To solve this problem of greenwashing zoos, I would suggest to have more government and non-government agencies involved in the restoration and reintroduction of habitats. Organization like the National Wildlife Federation and the World Wildlife Fund are excellent organizations that protect and preserve animal species by sheltering them in their natural environments. This method is more eco-friendly because it ultimately does not alter the animals ecosystem. Zoos have tried to build bigger cages, or create an area where the animals feel at home with no stress, but the only way for the animals’ to not suffer from anxiety and abnormal behavior induced by captivity is to allow them to be in the wild and we need to meet the needs of the wildlife in their own habitat. This can only be done through social and political change.

Monica Rivara