The ASPCA distinguishes between roadside menageries, which exhibit wild and exotic animals in substandard conditions, and accredited zoos and aquariums, with their mission of conservation and education. The ASPCA believes that legitimate zoos and aquariums, with their direct support, scientific research, technological developments and educational efforts, can contribute significantly to field conservation efforts that preserve wild animals in their native habitats. Moreover, the ASPCA believes that stringent criteria must be met to ensure appropriately humane care for the animals who are housed in zoos and aquariums.
The ASPCA supports the exhibition of animals in zoos and aquariums providing that the following conditions are met:
The zoo or aquarium is staffed by individuals who are educated and trained in the physical and psychological needs of the animals in their care;
All enclosures meet or exceed the standards set by the Animal Welfare Act and enforced by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture;
Zoos and aquariums strive to meet the more exacting requirements necessary for accreditation by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA);
Zoos provide educational displays that stress the themes of endangered species, wild habitat destruction and reduced biodiversity;
Zoos and aquariums demonstrate humane treatment of animals by not only meeting animals’ physical needs, but also by providing safe and appropriate social groupings of animals, and by using positive reinforcement methods to train animals as necessary to allow for facilitating medical procedures and for providing mental stimulation believed beneficial to animals in confinement;
Zoos and aquariums participate in tightly controlled breeding programs and take responsibility for all their animals and their offspring, even when they are no longer under their direct care, with excess young not permitted except to maintain proper gender balances and social groupings; no zoo or aquarium should send their “surplus” animals to “canned hunts,” auctions or medical research facilities, and placing animals with private individuals should not be considered an option for all species.