A Thought on Animal Rights

{This paragraph is excerpted from a paper on the ethics of zoos and their roles in conservation.]

Ethical behaviour can be broadly defined as right action or right deed. However, on a deeper level ethics are a set of actions that are seen as correct, just, and moral. Ethics are often inflated with rights; however, animals do not have rights, which must be considered as derived from the natural ownership of oneself’s that is inherent in humanity. Yet, humans do have certain moral, or ethical, responsibilities to animals. As animals are both living and thinking beings, as oppose to plants which are merely living or rocks which are neither living nor thinking, humans have a certain ethical responsibility to not unnecessarily kill or abuse animals. Abuse of animals is never justified, though killing certain animals is justified in cases of utility, i.e. if a person must kill a snowshoe hare to survive because of a lack of alternative food source. Conservation of species that are not threatened from natural sources may be seen as a prevention of unnecessary, that is unuseful, killing of these animals. Zoos can and should play a large role in modern species conservation.