I’m still divided on zoos. When visiting them I feel awful watching miserable animals trapped in cages, moving from one wall to the next ad infinitum. However, reading the ‘Life of Pi’ went someway to making me see the good in zoos: the security they provide animals, the affection the animals can have for their carers, or as Pi puts it, the “home and hearth” they provide.

Now another account on the positive qualities of keeping animals in captivity comes from conservation experts who believe that zoos are allowing many species to survive and stave off their extinction. Among the animals who are surviving thanks to UK zoos are the African penguin, the Chinese Blue-crowned laughing thrush, the Ecuador Amazon parrot, and the Bali starling.

This so-called ‘Noah’s Ark concept’ that zoos provide is crucial for severely threatened species which cannot be saved from extinction by field conservation alone.

Dr Andrew Marshall from the University of York and Flamingo Land Theme Park attests that "Globally zoos have contributed billions of pounds to conservation causes, have trained and employed thousands of experts in every aspect of conservation and have published thousands of scientific articles on biodiversity conservation, in the fight to save both species and their habitats."