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Wild Animals/Freedom of wild animals in zoos


Dear Jonathan,
I would just like to know how zoos limit the freedom of animals. Also, if you could, can you please give me some of your sources (ie., books, magazines, websites etc).
Nuhan Aziz

Dear Nuhan

Thank you for your question. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

First of all, zoos vary enormously as to how much freedom various animals have. For example, Whipsnade Zoo has several species of free-ranging animals, such as the mara (,257,). The free-ranging animals can move within the zoos' boundaries.

Various societies are concerned about the lack of freedom of animals in zoos. One of my friends is a member of the Captive Animals Protection Society and I have read a few of the newsletters.

PETA has an article (( zoos. I suggest you read the whole article as it has references that may be useful. It says that many zoo animals cannot run, roam, fly, climb, forage, choose a partner or be with others of their own kind. It says they are bored, cramped, lonely, deprived of all control over their lives and far from their natural homes. Birds’ wings may be clipped so they cannot fly, aquatic animals often lack adequate water and many animals who naturally live in large herds or family groups are kept alone or in pairs. Natural hunting and mating behaviors are virtually eliminated by regulated feeding and breeding regimens. Animals are closely confined, lack privacy, and have little opportunity for mental stimulation or physical exercise. These conditions often lead to abnormal and self-destructive behaviour. Virginia McKenna says that “wild animals suffer physically and mentally from the lack of freedom captivity imposes.”

Zoo Check ( that captive wild animals suffer physically and mentally from the lack of freedom that captivity imposes.  

Sasharyono ( has written an essay that you can subscribe to.

Lee Morgan ( that zoos cannot  provide the freedom associated with the animal's natural world. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) says that the animals are very unhappy in their enclosures, which may be unhealthy, physically and psychologically, for the animals. The enclosures provide far less diverse plant and animal interactions than in the wild and this can lead to extreme boredom and loneliness for the animals.

Other websites include, and

Please note that these websites indicate that zoos limit the freedom of animals. If you are going to write a balanced essay, you should also look at the counter-arguments that show how many zoos have improved conditions for their animals over the past few years.

All the best


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Jonathan Wright


I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.


I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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