Letter to the Editor – National Geographic Re: Is it time for zoos to be banned?

In his article, Is it time for Zoos to be Banned Mr. Draven is confusing an essential component in the critical discussion about whether zoos should exist.

Is time to shut down road-side zoos, circuses, and facilities unwilling to commit to the highest standards of welfare? Absolutely – without a doubt.   But the poor conditions representing zoological operations of a bygone era should not be confused with the standard of care and attention provided at Canadian institutions accredited by the country’s leading accreditation and animal welfare body, Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA).

Out of hundreds of zoos operating within Canada, only 31 are accredited by CAZA.  Held to the highest standards of animal welfare, veterinary care, research and educational programming, the animals in our care are contributing more to research, and our expertise is growing. Our standards are consistently reviewed and evaluated to ensure they are modernizing as public perception and expert opinion shifts.

No one cares more about animals than the teams of veterinarians, researchers, nutritionists, educators, and volunteers who directly care for them at CAZA facilities. We all would like it if zoological facilities were not required. However, it would be naïve and idealistic to assume that natural habitats can be saved at the rate required to save the 2-3 species per day that are going extinct. The bleak reality is that without accredited facilities, many of the species in our care have no wild left to go back to.


Dr. Susan Shafer

Executive Director

Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums

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