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Bears or Butterflies? How Should Zoos Make Value-Driven Decisions about Their Collections?

Bears or Butterflies? How Should Zoos Make Value-Driven Decisions about Their Collections?

Chapter:
(p.179) Chapter Fourteen Bears or Butterflies? How Should Zoos Make Value-Driven Decisions about Their Collections?
Source:
The Ark and Beyond
Author(s):
Clare PalmerT. J. KasperbauerPeter Sandøe
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226538631.003.0015

Zoos are ethically contested institutions, not only in terms of their existence, but also with respect to their aims, policies, and practices. Many of these aims, policies, and practices are underpinned by commitments to widely shared values. However, these values may be in tension, forcing choices to fulfill some aims at the expense of others, or requiring trade-offs between them. Such tensions are particularly salient with respect to species composition in zoo collections. This chapter discusses what should drive the mix of species kept in zoos, given the aims and values that zoological associations claim to endorse. The chapter first explores key aims endorsed by three major zoo associations. Then the values underlying these aims, including animal welfare and competing understandings of conservation, are discussed. The chapter considers why these values are important and the dilemmas and difficulties they pose for decision making about the composition of zoo collections. It is argued that, given their value commitments, zoos may do best to expand their collections of less space-intensive, local, threatened, and invertebrate populations, especially in cases where animals’ welfare needs are relatively easy to fulfill.

Keywords:   zoos, conservation, ethics, animal welfare, species, zoo collections

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