Zoo vs Sanctuary: Difference and Comparison

Animals and birds are becoming extinct by the day. Poaching is one of the many causes of this. As a result, they may require protection from such activities. Zoos and sanctuaries provide food and shelter for the animals.

Although they are comparable in the sense that they are both host species, there are some significant variances.

Key Takeaways

  1. Zoos primarily serve as public entertainment and education venues, while sanctuaries prioritize animal welfare and rehabilitation.
  2. Zoos breed animals for display purposes, whereas sanctuaries focus on rescuing and providing safe habitats for their inhabitants.
  3. Zoos may capture animals from the wild or engage in animal trade, while sanctuaries accept animals from other facilities or those needing rescue.

Zoo vs Sanctuary

The difference between a zoo and a sanctuary is that zoos create artificial habitats to keep animals, and sanctuaries keep birds and animals in their natural habitat. The purpose of a zoo is to use animals and birds as public exhibitions, and the purpose of a sanctuary is to protect injured and endangered animals.

Zoo vs Sanctuary

A zoo is an artificially created habitat where animals and birds cannot roam freely because they are kept in cages. A zoo exhibits not just one type but all species of animals and birds.

The purpose of a zoo is to use animals and birds for public showcases. A zoo covers a smaller area as compared to a sanctuary.

A sanctuary is a natural habitat where animals and birds are not kept in captivity. They are free to roam around. Animals and birds are kept in a sanctuary for their own protection. Usually, such species are injured or endangered.

A sanctuary protects a specific species available locally. Sanctuaries cover a much larger area than zoos.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonZooSanctuary
Type of HabitatArtificially created habitatNatural Habitat
CaptivityAnimals and birds are kept in cagesAnimals and birds are not kept in captivity
Types of Animals/BirdsAll species of animals and birds are exhibitedThe species available locally are kept in a sanctuary
PurposeAnimals and birds are kept for public exhibitionAnimals and birds are kept for their protection
AreaZoos cover a smaller areaSanctuaries cover a much larger area

What is Zoo?

A zoo (short for a zoological garden; known as a wildlife park) is a venue where animals are housed in cages, cared for, presented to the public, and sometimes bred for conservation.

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Zoos house a diverse range of animals indigenous to all regions of the globe.

People have been keeping wild animals for thousands of years, but their herds have not always mirrored modern zoos. The first zoos were built as private collections by the affluent to demonstrate their wealth.

Such individual collections were referred to as menageries.

During the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century, the model of the modern public zoo became popular. People began to wish to study animals for scientific purposes in this period. Scientists were interested in studying animal behaviour and anatomy.

To do this, scientists and zookeepers had to maintain animals in environments that were similar to or identical to the animals’ native habitats.

Although zoos have prioritized conservation and compassionate animal treatment in recent decades, some detractors argue that keeping animals in cages is inhumane.

The inherent behaviour and instincts of wild animals are lost in confinement, according to critics. Zoo supporters argue that zoos serve a vital role in the conservation of endangered animals.


What is Sanctuary?

A sanctuary is a place where animals may dwell and be safeguarded for the remainder of their lives. Furthermore, sanctuaries serve as a testing ground for transforming human-animal relationships.

Wildlife sanctuaries and exotic animal sanctuaries are two of the four categories of animal sanctuaries that represent the species-belonging of the residents.

Unlike animal shelters, sanctuaries do not try to place animals with persons or groups, preferring to retain each animal until it dies naturally (either from disease or from other animals in the sanctuary). They can, however, assist with rehoming.

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In some cases, a facility may serve as both a sanctuary and a shelter; for example, some animals may be temporarily sheltered until they can find a suitable home, while others may be permanent residents.

The goal of sanctuaries is to provide safe havens for animals by giving the best possible care.

Animals are never bought, sold, or traded, and they are never used in studies on humans. In addition, no animal parts or secretions, such as eggs, wool, or milk, are traded.

In a secure environment, the resident animals are able to behave as naturally as possible.


Main Differences Between Zoo and Sanctuary

  1. A zoo is an artificially created habitat, and a sanctuary is a natural habitat that’s meant for the protection of the animals.
  2. The animals and birds are kept in captivity in a zoo, but in a sanctuary, they are not kept in captivity.
  3. All species of animals and birds are available in a zoo, but only locally available species are found in a sanctuary.
  4. In a zoo, animals and birds are kept for exhibitions, whereas in a sanctuary, the animals and birds are kept for their protection.
  5. A zoo covers a smaller area compared to a sanctuary.
Difference Between Zoo and Sanctuary
  1. http://www.blog44.ca/emadsen/files/2015/09/A-List-of-Arguments-for-and-Against-Zoos-1469ib9.pdf
  2. https://cdr.lib.unc.edu/concern/honors_theses/v979v836s

Last Updated : 22 June, 2023

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8 thoughts on “Zoo vs Sanctuary: Difference and Comparison”

  1. It seems that this article has touched upon some of the controversial issues associated with zoos and sanctuaries. There’s much to reflect upon concerning the treatment and welfare of animals.

  2. This is an interesting perspective, however there may be differing opinions on what constitutes an ‘artificial habitat’ or ‘captivity’. It would be good to delve deeper into these nuanced definitions.

    • I think this article has raised some valid concerns about animal welfare in zoos. It’s important to consider both sides when assessing these issues.

    • I couldn’t agree more. It’s essential to have a comprehensive understanding of the complex ethical and practical considerations involved.

  3. I have learned so much about zoos and sanctuaries from this article. It has shed a light on the ethics of animal captivity and protection.

  4. The article has effectively presented zoos and sanctuaries in a clear manner. It’s crucial to understand the differences between these two types of animal care facilities.

  5. The meticulous comparison table has outlined the specifics of zoos and sanctuaries quite effectively. It has brought clarity to a topic that can often be misconstrued.

  6. The article provides a compelling comparison between zoos and sanctuaries. The conservation and protection of wildlife is a matter that requires thoughtful evaluation from all perspectives.


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