Do zoos really teach visitors anything?

I’m all for knowledge for knowledge’s sake, and I’m glad some people felt they learned that “biodiversity is related to biological phenomena.” However, learning about biodiversity, and perhaps some about the lives of the animals who are locked up in cages, without learning about the “need for biodiversity conservation ,” doesn’t convince me that zoos are really doing much at all.

Do the data justify keeping animals in captivity and using them as breeding machines? No. Do the data justify what zoo workers call “managementeuthanasia” — what I call “zoothanasia” rather than euthanasia — of the numerous individuals called “surplus animals” who don’t fit into a zoo’s breeding program? No. Do the data justify keeping animals in zoos, even those that are accredited by the United States’ Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) or other organizations? No.

Could zoo visitors gain the same knowledge in others ways rather than at the expense of the animals who are kept in zoos? We don’t know, but it seems likely that there are better ways not only to show them that “biodiversity is related to biological phenomena,” but also that there is an urgent and dire need for biodiversity conservation, and they need to do something right now. The visitors need to put their newfound knowledge to work.