published on May 27, 2015
Zoo Animals as Specimens, Zoo Animals as Friends
The Life and Death of Marius the Giraffe
The international protest surrounding the Copenhagen Zoo’s recent decision to kill a healthy giraffe in the name of population management reveals a deep moral tension between contemporary zoological display practices—which induce zoo-goers to view certain animals as individuals, quasi-persons, or friends—and the traditional objectives of zoos, which ask us only to view animals as specimens. I argue that these zoological display practices give rise to moral obligations on the part of zoos to their visitors, and thus ground indirect duties on behalf of zoos to their animals. I conclude that zoos might take on interspecies friendship as a new zoological objective.