I've seen over the years of being a nature photographer that people tend to give negative thoughts on the subject of photographing captive animals as they consider them not to be 'wild'. I think this is a load of crap, why should a wild animal hold more precedence over its captive cousin. Photographing animals in zoos or conservation parks educates us on subjects that we may never be able to photograph in the wild and it also makes us fall in love with the subject that will give us the spark to want to protect them or photograph them in their homeland.
I had never been too interested in Red Pandas until I spent an hour photographing this little guy at the Galloway Wildlife Conservation Park in Scotland and now I really want to travel to China at some point in my career to document these adorable animals in the wild. I believe if I had never gone that day to photograph the Red Pandas I would not have the same feelings towards them as I do today. So if you're given the opportunity to go to a zoo or wildlife park make sure to take your camera with you as the animals there will inspire you to travel the world.
This subject is quite debatable with photographers but I believe if you're photographing the subjects in a place where the animals are looked after properly and are not caged up in small spaces and you can tell that they care about their animals it makes you feel at ease. I know it would be better for the animals to be out in the wild but the main aim of having them in these places is to educate people especially the younger generation about what's out there in the wilds of the world and hopefully this will give them the boost to want to help and protect the amazing wildlife that this planet offers!
And one other thing that I should mention is if you're going to photograph captive animals make sure to tell people that they aren't wild as I've seen quite a few photographers pass off images as "wild" which I feel is highly unprofessional.
Below are a few more of my favourite images taken at either zoo's or conservation parks. The images on this page were taken at Galloway Wildlife Conservation Park and South Lakes Wild Animal Park in Cumbria.