Islam preceded animal protection societies by thirteen hundred years and made kindness to animals a part of the faith and cruelty to them a sufficient reason for a person to be thrown into Hellfire. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said that a woman entered the Fire because she did not feed her cat or allow it to hunt its food.
Dr. `Abdul-Fattah `Ashoor, Professor of the Exegesis of the Qur’an at Al-Azhar University, states the following: “Islam takes much care in treating animals kindly, protecting them against hazards. It is sufficient here to state that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have declared that “A woman was deemed to enter the Fire because of a cat. She imprisoned it and neither fed it nor set it free to eat the rodents of the earth.” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) related to his Companions the story of a man who found a dog panting with thirst. The man went down into a well, filled his shoes with water and offered it to the dog to quench its thirst. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Then Allah was grateful to him and forgave him his sins.” The Companions asked, “O Messenger of Allah! Is there a reward for us with relation to animals?” He replied “There is a reward with (relation to) every living creature.”
Contemplating over the meanings of the above Hadiths, I can say that what is prohibited is to imprison an animal with the aim of not taking care of it. If an animal is kept in a cage, such as is the case with zoos that we see nowadays, and those who keep the animal take care of it, then there is nothing wrong in keeping the animal in a cage.
Thus, it is permissible, as far as Islam is concerned, as long as the following guidelines are observed:
1- The animals kept in the zoo should be treated kindly, and those who keep them should take care of them. That is, the animal should be provided with the necessary food and drink, and the cage should be kept clean.
2- There is no harm inflicted on people as a result of keeping such animals in the zoo, as one of the primary objectives of the Shari`ah is that there should be neither harm nor reciprocating harm.
3- Those individuals and public authorities making zoos should preferably provide animals with a home-like environment such as the good zoos we see nowadays.
Hence, it can be concluded that it is allowed to make a zoo in light of the above guidelines.”