Needs more examples
Needs new title
In works of fiction, it's common for zoos to be portrayed as hellholes. The animals are poorly treated, living in tiny, cramped, and sometimes dark cages as opposed to many modern zoos that give animals large, roomy enclosures made to resemble their natural habitat. Often a character will comment on the poor conditions of the zoo, and sometimes it becomes a plot point.
May sometimes be Truth in Television
, though it depends on the time and era. Modern zoos in many countries tend to avert this heavily, thanks to regulations and concerns for animal welfare. The US, Canada, and European countries have strict regulations on exhibits and must meet certain standards. However, this trope is played straight in countries and areas with few regulations.
- Working with the Video Game Cruelty Potential, this can easily be done in the Zoo Tycoon games. There are also several challenge mode games that involve fixing up zoos that keep the animals in these conditions.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang visits a zoo where the animals live in tiny, cramped exhibits. This is done less out of lack of concern for the animals' welfare and more out of the fact that the government wouldn't give the zoo any more money to improve conditions because kids weren't visiting the zoo. (because the zoo wasn't very good in the first place) Aang uses earthbending to create large, roomy enclosures outside the town's walls, enabling the animals to live comfortably.
- In an episode of The Replacements, Riley is concerned about the welfare of animals living in a zoo. Fitting in with this trope, the animals live in tiny, cramped concrete cages with steel bars. Initially she blames the grumpy zookeeper and has him replaced with a crazy animal rights activist who releases all the animals. Naturally this turns out to be a bad idea, and Riley soon learns that the conditions weren't the zookeeper's fault: the owner of the zoo, a rich Corrupt Corporate Executive, didn't bother having conditions improved because he wanted to keep the money for himself. Eventually they threaten him into converting his golf course into a nice, roomy zoo for the animals.
- Sadly Truth in Television from time to time, though it mostly occurs in countries with few or no regulations, or those which have been wracked by war (c.f. the Berlin and Baghdad Zoos).