Don’t Steal Safe and Healthy Animals for Display in Zoos

Target: Kevin Shea, Administrator, U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

Goal: Demand zoos use only rescued animals for human display.

Zoos can be a wonderful place to visit. They give us exposure to animals we may never see otherwise in real life. Through these experiences, people can learn more about all the creatures found on the planet and their habits and connections to one another. Zoos also offer opportunities for animals who are endangered or injured and will not survive in the wild. Not only does this give us a chance to fulfill curiosity about other creatures, it gives those animals a second chance at life.

Unfortunately, zoos do not operate so altruistically. Out of the estimated 800,000 animals in zoos, those that are bred in captivity also end up behind bars with generations after them never getting to run free. While it is understandable zoos have an invested interest in staying stocked with animals, they should not lose sight of their goal to operate in the best interest of wildlife under their supervision. Using all or mostly animals rescued from unsafe circumstances is the best way to improve zoo operations.

Rescued animals can include those that are injured or healthy animals close to extinction. Injured animals who may die in the wild can live safely in captivity given they have care sympathetic to the adjustment from their natural habitat. Those facing extinction can be protected, too, chiefly in the event any safely bred in zoos are correctly reintroduced to the wild. According to PETA, animals facing extinction only make up 18% of those in zoos, evidence there is much work to be done to make these establishments a place to sustain species the world may lose otherwise.

Sign the petition below to urge Administrator Shea towards an understanding for how important it is for zoos to be about animal conservation, not just human recreation.


Dear Administrator Shea,

Every year, animal welfare is more important to people than in previous generations. U.S. zoos have always operated on a platform revolving around conservation, though not much has been done to improve animal welfare efforts at a reasonable pace. Their cages are stocked with wildlife that may not need human help whether from injury or endangerment. Those who do face extinction are bred more for entertainment rather than their survival. This is where APHIS needs to step in.

Because zoos will always be popular for children and interested adults alike, they still can survive with a shift in business model. Plenty of animals with permanent injury can be sourced from the wild and nurtured in captivity given fair and understanding care. In addition, with more animals facing endangerment and extinction every day, zoos have a fabulous chance to not only facilitate the survival of these poor creatures, but maintain a population for people to enjoy and learn about. Remember, zoos are first and foremost for the animals.

We urge you to reevaluate the guidelines governing zoos and to enforce a more animal-centric approach to their operation.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Andrew King


  1. Christine Vigneri says:

    this is exactly my complaint with even the best of zoos.The best place for a healthy animal to be is in its natural habitat and I agree with the petition above regarding exceptions to that.

  2. Deborah Olson says:

    Please stop this!

  3. IMAO, animals, although rescued, do not necessarily need to be in a Zoo, they can be sent to a reputable sanctuary where they can live the life they deserve and not in cages or in a small space.

  4. I agree, NO animal should be in a cage or zoo. Rescue them, thank you, heal them and release them where they belong.

  5. I would prefer zoos not exist at all. They tend to teach people very little beyond what animals look like removed from their natural habitats and plopped into a theme park setting. Injured and orphaned wildlife can be better served by placement in accredited sanctuaries where their welfare is the primary goal, not the crowds of humans wanting a look at them. As for animals facing extinction, money and time is better focused on habitat preservation and protection from human activity than breeding programs, which are often physically taxing on animals given fertility drugs and forced to endure repeated artificial inseminations and other invasive medical procedures. In the end reintroduction means a traumatic upbringing full of handling by humans followed by frightening and stressful re-wilding to then instill a fear of humans. In the end the majority of these reintroductions fail. Most zoo animal breeding is done for the purpose of populating more zoos and, more importantly, to provide “zoo babies” to draw the public eye as well as their money. It’s not at all uncommon for these “zoo babies” to grow up to be unwanted adults who are either killed by the zoo themselves or sold off to brokers who either sell them to people as “pets” or as highly prized taxedermy mounts for the wealthy to display in their homes and offices. While there are some notable exceptions, in general zoos are no friend to animals and even the very best are problematic, imprisoning animals for entertainment and profit.

  6. Joseph Kenosky says:

    Stop imprisoning these animals.

  7. Of course, for animals that cannot be left in the wild for various reasons, to be taken care of by reputable sanctuaries is much better than being on display in a zoo.

    However, I am definitely signing this petition, unlike Lisa Finnigan, since there is no way zoos are going to just DISAPPEAR because that’s on the wishlist of many people. Until such a time that zoos no longer exist, which at best would take decades, we NEED zoos to do better NOW.


  9. All zoos need to transition over to sanctuaries. I know some of the animals would not survive in the wild but their offspring have a chance if weaned when it would happen naturally and moms and dads sent them on their way as if wild.

  10. Maria Lavorato says:

    Agree with Kerry above. Zoos should no longer exist in this day and age! Only sanctuaries that have each animals best interest at heart.

    No one should be profiting off animals in cages!


  12. Jim+Takahashi says:

    All forms of animal exploitation for stupid human entertainment must be banned.

  13. Stop relying on peta for anything and look up their crimes

  14. Disgusting it is legal to steal animals from the world and put them in captivity. Pure evil!

  15. Stop using filthy methods! Animals are living creatures like us.

  16. “Ban Veterinarian Accused of Beating Dog From Working With Animals”

    We look forward to hearing what happened, if anything, with that stupid and mean person, shown beating his dog. It is the obligation of ‘Animal Petitions’ to inform all of us who respond nearly every day to your petitions.

  17. Evan Jane Kriss says:

    Zoos should not lose sight of their goal to operate in the best interest of wildlife under their supervision. Using all or mostly animals rescued from unsafe circumstances is the best way to improve zoo operations.

  18. Muriel Servaege says:

    Please stop this. NOW!

  19. SHUT DOWN all ZOOS — Every day I learn about a new EVIL engaged by zoos — Even “good” zoos are HELL-HOLES for Animals — If Animals cannot live in their natural habitats they MUST be transferred to Sanctuaries where they can lead HEALTHY & happy lives — People can make arrangements with Sanctuaries for visitation

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