Z is for Zoo

Zoo    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  zoological garden: public garden or park with collection of animals for exhibition and study.

Our definition:  Place where wild animals are kept and/or bred in captivity.  Zoos are prisons.  Prisons in which innocent individuals are kept incarcerated for their whole lives, though they have committed no crime.

Elephants, for example, in the wild, are used to travelling many miles a day in herds of about ten related adults and their offspring. They are very social animals.

elephants captive and wild

In zoos, elephants are usually kept in pairs or even isolated.  Their enclosures are incredibly small, compared to what they are used to in the wild, and as a result they often show many signs of being stressed out or bored, like engaging in repetitive movements.  Stress behaviours can include repetitive movements, pacing back and forth, head bobbing, rocking, repeatedly retracing their steps, sitting motionless or biting the bars of their enclosure or themselves.

What makes life so difficult for zoo animals is that they hardly have any privacy and lack mental stimulation and physical exercise.  Even though you might think that zoo animals would get used to a life in captivity, they really don’t.  Even animals that are bred in zoos still retain their natural instincts after many generations of captive breeding.

Hippos captive and wild

Animals like polar bears or felines are used to hunting; this habit is replaced by the zoo with regular feedings.  Most animals kept in zoos would naturally roam for tens of miles a day.

Zoos claim to help with conservation. However, hardly any zoo registers their animals on an international species database and most zoo animals are not endangered at all.

Even though there are thousands of endangered species, zoos have only been able to return about 16 species to the wild with varying level of success. Most zoo animals released in the wild don’t survive. This is because zoos don’t provide the right environment for a successful captive breeding project. The animals would need to live in habitats resembling their natural ones, especially in terms of climate and fauna. The animals would also need to be raised with minimal human contact and in populations large enough to provide a natural social balance and a suitable gene pool.

Surplus animals are the unwanted animals for whom there is no more space, when zoos have bred yet another cute little baby to attract visitors. They can even be the cute babies themselves when they’ve stopped being cute at the end of the season. Zoos have a systematic “overproduction” of animals. These surplus animals are either killed – and sometimes fed to their fellow zoo habitants – or sold to other zoos or dealers.  Selling animals is a profitable way for zoos to dispose of them. Dealers will sell them to hunting ranches, pet shops, circuses, the exotic meat industry and research facilities. Surplus animals are also found for sale on the internet.

To sum up: DON’T GO TO THE ZOO!  If a school trip is being organised, tell your teacher why you don’t like zoos and ask them to take you somewhere better.  If they won’t listen, explain what zoos really are to your friends and then get together to petition the school.  If they still won’t listen, just ask your parents to let you stay home from school that day.  Maybe they could take you on a better trip instead, such as to a museum or art gallery.

That reminds me – see what Luke Walker, ‘animal stick up for-er’, did when he was forced to go on a trip to the zoo – now that’s a boy who acts on his conscience! (Though he is sadly unappreciated by those who know him 😉 )

10 thoughts on “Z is for Zoo

  1. OK, another great post, gets the old thought processor working. I can see what you are doing, and you are right, but until we get rid of 95% + of the human population the only way for some species to survive is via the zoo or a wildlife park. Plus it is the only way which I will see the likes of the Big Kitty, just to connect with.

    People are stupid, they do not fear nor respect animals, after watching Jenny the Jaguar I clicked on the Kids at the zoo vid link and that really made by blood boil, no respect, but I would rather keep 200 in zoos than save only 4 in the wild, just teach the staff of the zoos how to respect and treat the animals. A Bear or kitty needs a lot more space than an otter, which needs more space with fresh live fish than a badger.

    Sorry if I offend thee, but that is the way I see it.

    Like

  2. My kids never go to the zoo – it’s such a sad thing that simply should not exist any longer.
    That ‘s too bad, because they are aimed at people who care for animals , but they just do not realize the sad reality of the situation .
    Great post!

    We are thrilled about the dictionary!

    Like

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