1. Limited enrichment. Animals need to have their mind active while they are in captivity. Good zoos do this by offering them toys or puzzles to figure out, by hiding food in the exhibit so they have to exercise their natural hunting. scavenging instincts and by using training. Training also helps with medical needs, a lot of animals are trained to lift their feet so they can be checked out, or to expose their side/rump in order to give injections safely. Zoos that do not work on enrichment or training leave the animal unnecessary stress.
Have you ever seen tigers or bears pacing in their enclosure? That’s a stereotypical behavior of animals in captivity when they are not stimulated enough. Bad sign. 2. Lack of education, research and conservation. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums is an international group that gives accreditation to facilities that strive to improve the welfare of their animals, educate the public about the wild and captive animals and environment and spend money on research to help both education, conservation and wildlife.
Zoos that are not accredited by the AZA may do these things, but it is unlikely. “Roadside zoos” are only there to make a profit. They make sure that their animals stay alive so they can make money off of them, but have no commitment to keep them healthy and they do not contribute to the scientific community. 3. Poor breeding programs. AZA institutions are part of an international breeding program with a huge data set that includes the genes and health records of all the animals that are used in breeding programs.
There’s even individual committees in charge of each species or groups of species to make sure that breeding is done only to make healthy offspring that can contribute to the genetic pool of captive animals. Good zoos very rarely use wild animals to breed, so they do not affect any of the natural, wild populations. Bad zoos, however, can partake in the illegal blackmarket pet and exotic animal trade. These animals can be taken directly from the wild, illegally, and/or bred with other animals with absolutely no consideration to their genetics. Inbreeding is a big problem, and is never done in good zoos.