BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 426

BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 426

IELTS Academic Reading Test

The Role of the Zoo

There are not many people in the world who haven’t visited a zoo or safari park in their lifetime. Not only is a trip to the zoo a fun day out, it is a chance for many people to get relatively close to animals they are unlikely to see elsewhere. Most people nowadays recognise that not all zoos are considered equal: there are both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ zoos.

Most of us would agree that the stereotypical roadside zoos known for their negligence of animals are in the ‘bad’ category, while we would expect zoos in developed countries to maintain higher standards of animal welfare and be among the ‘good’ ones. To say that all zoos are bad, however, is a blunt and sweeping indictment and the judgement fails to account for how ethical institutions enrich and ultimately protect the lives of animals, both in human care and in the wild.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

The role of the zoo has evolved to prioritise research, education, and conservation. Some people still condemn the existence of zoos based on zoos’ past life of pure entertainment and it is true that zoos started as menageries and amusement parks. However, zoos have come a long way since the late 1800s and the current legislation protecting wild animals and guaranteeing their welfare make sure zoos and aquariums are a better place for animals to live.

Zoos have an essential role in conservation, as biologist Tom Compton asserts. “Given trends regarding the disappearance of various animals, the number of species requiring conservation breeding programs is likely to increase dramatically. Today’s zoos and aquariums are uniquely positioned to combat the evolving dangers threatening nature. Using robust and sophisticated breeding plans, these institutions fund and facilitate countless initiatives to propagate endangered animals and preserve genetic biodiversity, and then reintroduce critically endangered or extinct species into the wild.” Currently, most zoos in developed countries have their own breeding programs and all efforts in captive breeding have led to increased research.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

As researcher Jake Potter puts it, “many zoos have become places of rigorous scientific research. This is coupled with an active effort not just to preserve in captivity those creatures that are endangered in the wild, but to understand, save, and replenish unique natural habitats.” The benefits of zoos have been underestimated. Zookeepers, researchers, and vets now know a lot more about husbandry as zoos have evolved, and these improvements have led to increased longevity of animals in captivity and in their natural habitats.

The role of zoos in public education is also very significant. Resident zoo educator Anne Paisley points out that this is in turn important to conservation. “Zoos need to assign equal weight to teaching people and especially children about the threats that modern society offers to wildlife as they do to the entertainment value that zoos provide as a family day out. The children of today will be the ones who make decisions over conservation tomorrow.” Zookeeper Tony Wilde also emphasises the importance of people seeing the animals as individuals rather than an idea from a book or television programme. “The public visiting a zoo sees many kinds of animal.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Each species conforms to a set pattern, often based on facts gleaned at school. Elephants are just elephants; lions are just lions; bears are just bears. What the visitor often does not realize is that each animal is also an individual. All my zoo elephants are different to each other, and each one leaves me with a different memory.” Not everyone agrees that zoos fulfil this educational function, though. Peter Grant, the zoo critic, believes that “the zoo’s contribution to education is minimal and that most people show no more than casual curiosity about its animals. If zoos are teaching children anything, it’s that imprisoning animals for our own entertainment is acceptable.”

The main argument against zoos is the belief that, even with the best intentions and conditions, a zoo cannot provide the perfect environment for every type of animal. For example, it is extremely difficult for zoos to recreate the natural environment that an elephant is used to living in. This is because in the course of a day, an elephant can walk anywhere up to 50 kilometres. Elephants also travel in packs of thirty or forty in the wild. In most zoos, elephants will usually have just several acres to walk around in and maybe a couple of other elephants, if they are lucky.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

People against animals being kept in zoos are also unimpressed with the attempts to create an animal friendly habitat for each occupant. Activist Pia Lundstrom argues that “zoo enclosures, while attractive and a vast improvement on the past, are rarely big enough and do not prevent the animals from becoming depressed.” She goes on to argue that “by making animals live in artificial surroundings, the zoo is messing with natural mating activities, which can cause zoochosis in the animal, which is similar to the human Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.” Another problem is privacy, because the animals are living in habitats that are often extremely smaller than they are used to, the animal cannot enjoy much needed seclusion.

This can also cause depression and obsessive behaviour in the animals. There is no denying that the animals kept in zoos discussion is controversial, as both sides of the argument make valid points. However, global change represents an unprecedented challenge for the maintenance of biodiversity. It is expected that even under the most optimistic impact and adaptation scenarios, a great number of species may require the integration of a suite of wildlife preservation actions, including conservation breeding programs in zoos.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Look at the following statements (questions 14 – 19) and the list of people below. Match each statement with the correct person’s initials.

Write the correct initials in boxes 14 – 19 on your answer sheet.

14. The existence of zoos demonstrates that it is normal to put animals in cages.

15. Teaching the young about conservation should be as much of a priority for zoos as people just enjoying their day at the zoo.

16. Zoos today have programs to ensure a variety of individuals of threatened species to ensure healthy breeding numbers.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

17. The habitats provided for animals in zoos are better than they used to be.

18. Zoos help researchers understand the environments in which animals live.

19. Seeing an animal in the flesh allows the public to identify with the animal as a living entity.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

TC. Tom Compton

JP. Jake Potter

AP. Anne Paisley

TW. Tony Wilde

PG. Peter Grant

PL. Pia Lundstrom

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Write NO MORE THAN ONE WORD from the text for each answer.

20. _______________ is generally agreed to be a common fault of roadside zoos.

21. Laws ensuring the _______________ of animals is one way in which zoos have been made to improve since the bad old days.

22. Extinction _______________ indicate the growing need for zoos to plan the controlled increase of certain species’ numbers.

23. Better _______________ learned in zoos has led to certain species living for longer periods in zoos and in the wild.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Choose THREE letters, A – G. According to the text, what are some of the disadvantages of zoos?

Write the correct letter, A – G, in any order in boxes 24 – 26 on your answer sheet.

A. Zoos don’t invest enough money in providing effective educational experiences for visitors.

B. Zoos don’t teach people anything apart from on a very superficial level.

C. Carnivorous animals in zoos suffer from not being able to hunt their prey in a realistic way.

D. Some animals in zoos don’t have the opportunity to live in their realistic family groups.

E. Many zoos do not employ sufficient staff to care properly for their animals.

F. Animals suffer from not being able to breed in a realistic way in zoos.

G. Too many zoos engage in unethical practices when buying animals for their displays.

IELTS Academic Reading Test


BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 426

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IELTS Academic Reading Test

14. PG

15. AP

16. TC

17. PL


19. TW





24. 13*

25. D.

26. F

IELTS Academic Reading Test

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