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Articles on Zoos

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A makeshift shrine to Harambe, the zoo gorilla whose death has raised some uncomfortable moral questions. William Philpott/Reuters

How do we weigh the moral value of human lives against animal ones?

We tend instinctively to value human lives over non-human ones. But is there a point where the scales might tip the other way?
Menageries of the 19th century brought exotic animals (and people) to Western society – as do many zoos today.

Is it time to break with colonial legacy of zoos?

The shooting death of Harambe the gorilla has once again raised concern for the well-being of zoo animals. But animals in zoos may be fated by the very institution we have created to protect them.
A makeshift shrine at the Cincinnati Zoo, where Harambe, a male gorilla, was killed by zoo officials. William Philpott/Reuters

Gorilla’s death calls for human responsibility, not animal personhood

The death of Harambe the gorilla has sparked outrage and raised questions over the adequacy of zoos, but protecting some animals through legal personhood is flawed and dangerous, says legal scholar.
An orang-utan playing with the interactive digital projector at the Melbourne Zoo. Microsoft Research Centre for Social Natural User Interfaces at the University of Melbourne

Orang-utans play video games too, and it can enrich their lives in the zoo

An experiment providing interactive games for orang-utans is showing the potential for digital technology to enrich the lives of zoo animals.
The debate on whether animals should be kept in captivity or not continues to rage on. Reuters/Muhammad Hamed

Carnivores in captivity: a question of motive and ethics

Some say that keeping wild animals in captivity is cruel. Others believe they promote conservation and give people a link to nature.
Name or number? EPA

Should scientists name their animal test subjects?

A mystery bidder recently paid US$50,000 to name Dallas zoo’s latest baby giraffe. As we humans know, your name significantly affects your life. It has been shown to influence your career choice, a phenomenon…
Zoos provide succor for species having a tough time of it in the wild. B. A. Minteer

Can zoos save the world?

Today, many zoos promote the protection of biodiversity as a significant part of their mission. As conservation “arks” for endangered species and, increasingly, as leaders in field conservation projects…

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