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Fall Of The Wild: Zoos, Conservation, And The Moral Cost Of Captivity

A couple watch a tree monkey at the Bronx Zoo's Congo Gorilla Forest exhibit in New York City.
A couple watch a tree monkey at the Bronx Zoo's Congo Gorilla Forest exhibit in New York City.

More than 183 million people in the U.S. visit zoos and aquariums each year. There are 218 zoos and aquariums stateside that are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The AZA says they are educational institutions working toward species conservation and protection.

“There are approximately 900 species classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Vulnerable to Extinct in the wild at AZA member facilities. AZA members are working to increase wild populations of species in our care through 117 reintroduction programs, including more than 50 reintroduction programs for species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.”

But Emma Marris, the author of the new book “Wild Souls,”  wants people to rethink the moral costs of captivity.

“In many modern zoos, animals are well cared for, healthy and probably, for many species, content. Zookeepers are not mustache-twirling villains. They are kind people, bonded to their charges and immersed in the culture of the zoo, in which they are the good guys. But many animals clearly show us that they do not enjoy captivity. When confined they rock, pull their hair and engage in other tics.”

We talk about zoos, their animals, and what purpose they all serve.

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