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Where the Wild Things Aren’t

This+chimpanzee+is+communicating+its+sadness+through+expressions%2C+much+like+humans+do.
This chimpanzee is communicating its sadness through expressions, much like humans do.

This chimpanzee is communicating its sadness through expressions, much like humans do.

Michael Nichols

Michael Nichols

This chimpanzee is communicating its sadness through expressions, much like humans do.

Isla, Editor

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Zoos have been around since 1874 and can be found everywhere. They are commonly viewed as a fun day out and a chance to see wild animals up close.  But there is much controversy surrounding the idea of safari parks, zoos and aquariums. Films like ¨Blackfish¨ expose gruesome details about the conditions and capture of killer whales while several animal scandals have emerged, such as the shooting of the gorilla Harambe and the giraffe Hsiao Chiu’s anxiety attack. As a result, the morality of zoos is increasingly being called into question. One should not hold an animal in captivity for their own enjoyment.  

Exploiting animals for human entertainment raises innumerable ethical questions. Captive Animals Protection Society (CAPS) says, “wild animals in zoos suffer physically and mentally as their social, behavioral, and physical needs cannot be met in unnatural man-made environments.” Certain animals such as elephants should not be kept captive as this lifestyle does not meet their requirements. For example, Elephants travel 80 kilometers (50 miles) a day, meaning that even if an elephant walked around the largest zoo in the world (San Diego Safari Park) they still wouldn’t have enough room. Elephants also live in tight herds that can consist of 100 elephants. The elephants live in pathetic conditions, and they are not the only ones. Other animals, like polar bears, express distress when humans just make eye contact with them. They are more prone to going into depression than other animals.

An ongoing study by Liz Tyson shows that even strict regulations regarding wild animals being held in captivity aren’t helping. Because of “… non-compliance with legal standards…” better law enforcement is needed.  Often when zoos and aquariums register animals for educational purposes they are really used for entertainment. For instance, when Seaworld uses orcas and dolphins in a show, they refer to that as “educational entertainment.” Zoos, theme parks, and aquariums all do this. It is paradoxical to claim that they are trying to imitate natural habitats when they force animals to perform for humans.

Zoos are often described as a massive misuse of resources. On average, it takes one million dollars to maintain a single exhibit. A one day adult pass is $50. This same money could be used to buy bio-diversity hotspots or promote breeding programs. Zoos place business before the well beings of animals. Alaina Burke, a student at Diegueno Middle school, claims that “no animal should be held captive unless they are unable to be released into the wild.”

Many zoo supporters point out that zoos reintroduce endangered animals back into the wild. However, this is a rarity and only happens once in a great while. Another reason people support zoos is because they inform the public of conservation by offering tours, classes and courses. But allowing people to observe animals in their natural habitat would be much more educating and would not disturb the animals. Advocates of zoos also claim that animals are treated well. This only is true for certain zoos, and does not change the fact that keeping an animal in captivity is wrong.

Therefore, zoos and other in-situ conservation efforts are a violation of animal rights. Because of this, the amount of zoos should be minimized and stricter laws should be placed. Otherwise, animals will continue to live in unacceptable conditions.

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