two lions

wild animals in zoos

How to help animals in poorly kept zoos?


For thousands of years, zoos have offered people the opportunity to observe dangerous or shy wild animals at close quarters. Our perspective is that only certified zoological facilities and sanctuaries that prioritise animal welfare standards should be allowed to keep wild animals like bears, lions, tigers, etc. To justify its existence, zoos should also show how they are contributing to conservation, public education and research.


Our vision

FOUR PAWS’ vision is a world where wild animals live in the wild, without direct human influence. FOUR PAWS believes that wild animals should not be kept as pets or for entertainment. If living under human care is not avoidable, keeping conditions have to meet species appropriate needs.

From an animal welfare point of view, keeping wild animals in captivity can only be acceptable if the animals are from captivity already or in need of support, and are accommodated in such way as to allow keeping them free of pain, suffering, harm and illness. The keeping conditions should facilitate and promote natural instincts and behaviour, and they should be provided for their natural lifetime.

In instances where captive wild animals are kept for profit, there are serious concerns around the issue of 'surplus animals'. This is a term commonly used when a zoo does not have the space or resources to keep animals of the same breed, or an animal is no longer required for breeding. These animals are either traded with other locations, or even euthanised (for example: when Copenhagen Zoo euthanised two-year-old giraffe Marius in 20141). 


what can you do?

  • Do not visit badly run zoos and animal parks.
  • Never take part in wild animal photo or petting opportunities.
  • Consider how animals experience the zoo. While for you it is just a day visit, for them, it is a lifetime.
  • Complain about inadequate keeping conditions directly to the zoo management and the responsible (local) authorities.
  • Check the education and conservation value that the zoo provides.
  • Be informed about projects to protect wild animal species in their home countries and support them.
  • Choose responsible animal-friendly alternatives to wildlife tourism, such as admiring animals in the wild, visiting wildlife sanctuaries that do not exploit animals, or watch them on television.
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