Brookhurst Primary School
A place to think and grow

Gifted and Talented RE Debating Day

On Monday 30th November I had the pleasure of taking four pupils to North Leamington School to take part in a debate. There were twelve Warwickshire schools present from places as far away as Wilmcote and Alcester.

Brookhurst’s talented pupils taking part were William Hawkins, Seren Hartwright, Henry Fisher and Isabella Porch.
The five of us got together before the event to craft our arguments. This was made easier by the fact that pupils had prepared or thought about their speeches in advance.

During the event schools took it in turns to debate with each other. Each pupil took turns to speak on their subject for several minutes and tried to persuade other children that their viewpoint was the correct one. This was followed by opening the discussion up to the ‘floor’, which was then followed by a vote.

Subjects being debated on the day included:

‘Does God exist?’
‘A person cannot be truly happy unless they are very well off.’

Brookhurst pupils debated for the motion :

Zoos should be made illegal as keeping any animal in a cage is wrong.’

Main points we covered included:

Most animals in most zoos are kept in cramped spaces.
Most captive breeding programmes do not release animals back into the wild.
Zoos cause behavioural problems.

It was a contentious issue, with pupils from all schools wanting to join in the debate long after Brookhurst had finished speaking.

As one school had dropped out, a scratch team was formed, which included Henry. He had to improvise his responses, and in the end his team won!

Brookhurst’s side of the zoo debate can be seen below.

Thanks, and a big well done to everyone concerned.
Sara Snatt

Good afternoon. We are children from Brookhurst school and we are arguing for the motion that zoos should be made illegal
1. Intro (Isabella)

Have you ever been to a zoo? There are lots of zoos throughout the world. Some take good care of their animals, some do not. One thing is clear – no zoo is the same as an animal being in its own environment.

Some people think that it’s alright to keep animals in zoos; others say that it’s wrong for a number of reasons:

Some animals need to be kept in a suitable habitat, however keeping perfectly happy animals in a cage is wrong as they are fine where they are and do not need ‘looking after’.

Animals need freedom, not to be stuck in a zoo, often in a cage that is too small for them. In zoos throughout the world, animals clearly suffer from mental distress due to the unsuitable habitats that zoos offer.

In addition, it is unfair for animals to be transported thousands of miles across the world, as this too causes a huge amount of disorientation and distress. How would you like it if you were to be woken up and you were halfway round the world separated from family?

A person who thinks zoos are a good idea might say that the zoo is a great place to learn about animals. This is not true: zoos don’t teach us much because the animals there don’t act the way they would in the forest, jungle or ocean, where they belong. We can learn more about animals by reading books or watching wildlife programmes on TV.

Did you know – in the wild, elephants walk up to 30 miles each day, bears are active for up to 18 hours a day, and tigers and lions love running many miles to hunt? When these wild animals are imprisoned in cages or small enclosures at zoos, they don’t get to do the things that are natural and important to them.

Taking animals out of their natural environment is not what nature intended.

2.Problems with zoos (William)

In a recent internet survey, 68% people said that they believe zoos should be made illegal. I agree with them for the following reasons among many:

We do not have the right to capture animals and keep them in cages. Most animals in most zoos are kept in cramped spaces with hardly any privacy and have very few opportunities to exercise or keep their minds active. Living without these important things often causes “zoochosis,” a condition in which animals act strangely and even hurt themselves out of boredom and frustration. Here is one witness statement … ‘When I visited a zoo recently one of the elephants was swaying her trunk back and forth – clear signs of stress.’

Many zoos claim they exist to breed animals and so help protect endangered species, but that’s not true. In fact, most animals in zoos aren’t endangered, and those which are will never be released into natural habitats. Zoos and wildlife parks almost always favour big, “popular” animals while ignoring smaller animals which need protection. Plus, keeping animals in cages does nothing to help their species in the wild. If zoos really wanted to save animals from extinction, they would be helping protect animals’ natural habitats, not keeping them in prisons.
The vast majority of captive breeding programmes do not release animals back into the wild. Younger animals attract more people to the zoo, and therefore the all-important money. But, as animals grow, they become less popular. What happens to them then? Some zoos kill older animals; some sell them to other zoos or even circuses. How is this caring for the animal population? And how is this protecting animals from extinction?
Taking a healthy lion away from its natural habitat, for example, is endangering the population more by taking away healthy breeding stock.
At the end of the day, what are zoos for? Making money.
3.Safari parks (Henry)

Whilst some people agree with zoos, some say that safari parks are a more humane option. Although in a safari park the chance of seeing animals is less, this could be overcome.

With the technology available to us today we could easily find ways to watch animals in the wild:
Larger, safari type settings could have viewing areas for people;
There could be CCTV with live feed at points around a park;
Technology could even begin to replicate animals’ natural environments but on a giant scale – think Jurassic World for lions, zebras, elephants and giraffes!

I believe however that no pen or even drive-through safari can compare to the freedom of the wild. A 2010 government inspection report said of Woburn Safari Park: “The animals were very crowded and there was no provision for individual feeding or sleeping areas.” Lions there had been locked in small enclosures for 18 hours a day.

If people want to see wild animals in real life, they should observe wildlife in the wild or visit a sanctuary. A true sanctuary does not buy, sell, or breed animals, but takes in unwanted exotic pets, surplus animals from zoos or injured wildlife. Sanctuaries also help wildlife and offer an engaging, interactive experience, allowing you to get right up close to the animals, which surely is a more pleasurable experience than seeing some sad lonely animal in a dirty cage.

Some people say that zoos are educational. How can this be when most visitors spend only a few minutes at each display and learn very little about the animals they’re seeing? Signs outside displays barely cover more than an animal’s species, diet, and natural habitat. Animals’ “normal” behavior often isn’t seen in zoos because they don’t get to live “normal” lives there. For example, birds’ wings may be clipped so that they can’t fly, aquatic animals often go without adequate water, and many animals which naturally live in large herds or family groups are kept alone or, at most, in pairs.
Think safari, sanctuary or a technological alternative to zoos.

4.Conclusion (Seren)

So to sum up, we believe that zoos are wrong, for the reasons outlined above.

Still not convinced? Here are some statistics that might help you make up your mind:
In zoos, tigers and lions have 18,000 times less space than they would in the wild.
Polar bears have one millionth the amount of space when kept captive in zoos!
A government survey of UK zoos found that 54% of elephants showed behavioural problems.
40% of lion cubs in captivity die before one month old.
And at least one study has shown that elephants kept in zoos do not live as long as elephants in the wild.

In 2010 a German zoo was prosecuted after it killed three tiger cubs because they were not the right pedigree.
CAPS (the captive animals’ protection society) found out that at least one UK zoo has had direct links with animal circuses. Are our zoos now being used to breed victims for this cruel trade?

And as for being educational…if zoos are teaching us anything, it’s that imprisoning animals for our own entertainment is unacceptable. We believe that zoos are wrong and should be made illegal. If we could ask the animals what they think, I wonder what they would say?