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Candidate D

The candidate was awarded 11 marks for this broadly discursive piece of writing.


This is a broadly discursive piece of writing in which the candidate discusses the controversial issue of zoos. The candidate considers arguments for and against zoos, providing evidence to support the points made, before coming to a conclusion and suggesting a possible compromise on the future role of zoos.


In the opening paragraph, the candidate considers the contentious nature of zoos – behind the ‘amazing experience’ of most families visiting zoos is the ‘harassment’ of the animals leading to the ‘commonly held belief that animals do not belong in zoos’. The candidate suggests ‘another point of view’, that zoos can be ‘beneficial…serving as a place of safety’ for animals endangered by human activity; ‘hunting’ and ‘reduction of their natural habitat’. The essay remains focussed on these conflicting views throughout, exhibiting a clear attention to purpose.

Following the introduction, the essay explores ‘why zoos should be banned’. The candidate first considers practical issues: insufficient space and the stressrelated impact this has on animals; the inability of animals born in zoos to acquire survival skills; and how removing an individual animal from the wild might impact on the survival of its species. These issues are dealt with clearly, with supporting evidence and reasons. For example, the candidate provides the shocking example of elephants, ‘held captive’ in enclosures ‘on average a thousand times smaller’ than they need to travel their typical ‘30 miles a day’. This combination of emotive language and research-based evidence recurs throughout the essay, showing the candidate’s clear engagement with the topic. There are also references to increased use of medication to manage the mental health of zoo animals and the danger of species becoming ‘less genetically diverse’.

The candidate moves on to consider the issue from a moral perspective, challenging our ‘right to capture, confine and breed other animals’. Various examples of suffering are used to support this line of thought, leading to the conclusion, clearly stated by the candidate, that ‘often zoos are unable to replicate the normal living conditions that wildlife survive in’, even at times failing to ‘provide safe or secure shelter.’

The link, ‘On the other hand…’ signals a change to arguments in favour of keeping animals in zoos. The candidate first points out that zoos have ‘improved significantly’ over time and now provide ‘mini-habitats that resemble the animals’ natural environment.’ Other positive aspects of zoos are explored: breeding programmes for endangered species, research into animal ecosystems and animal husbandry. Various examples are cited to provide clear support for this line of thought.

The conclusion of the essay is clearly signalled, with the candidate acknowledging both sides and putting forward a compromise position – ‘zoos should only contain wild animals on the endangered list.’ This, the candidate argues, would provide a positive solution for both animals and humans.

Throughout the essay, the candidate demonstrates a clear understanding of the areas of contention: practical and moral objections balanced against improvement to zoos and their research function. There is clear evidence of careful research and selection of evidence, for example, the Scarborough Sea Life Centre, Virginia Zoo and the Pere David’s deer breeding programme.


Appropriate linguistic features are clearly used to develop the argument. There is emotive language, for example in the first paragraph (‘gawking’ of the humans, the way visitors ‘chuck food…knock on glass’, the ‘boredom or frustration’ of the animals) which contrasts with the language of the last paragraph (the ‘respectful behaviour’ of the children, the animals ‘safer’ and ‘provided with food, shelter and medicine’). This contrast is clearly used as a structural device to persuade us of the benefits – for both animals and humans – of the candidate’s compromise. The final words, describing children with ‘acres of space to run wild and free as memories are captured for a lifetime’, evoke an idyll where both children and animals are (relatively) free.

Expression is clear, with varied sentence structure, for example the inversion of ‘Gone are the old steel-bar enclosures and cement cages’.

The essay maintains a clearly structured line of thought throughout, reinforced by the use of signalling words to indicate the stages in the discussion: ‘on top of this…in addition…on the other hand…furthermore…finally…in conclusion’.


This piece was placed in the 12-10 mark range. Engagement with the topic, use of evidence, line of thought, structure and linguistic features are all clear. This piece is described fully by the statements in the 12-10 mark range and was awarded 11 marks.