The Lariat

Opinion: Why You Should Never Go To Any Zoo Again

Maddie Smith

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It does not take a keen eye to see how cruel and disgusting foreign zoos are. However, American zoos are no better and are no exception. Zoos do not really care about the wellbeing of their animals, educating the public, nor conservation of endangered species. They only care about the cash.

If you have ever seen a zoo animal pacing their cage or acting strangely, they probably have ARB, Abnormal Repetitive Behavior. It occurs in captive animals that have depression, psychoses, or are just extremely bored. Almost all zoo animals have this disorder and are put on antidepressants or tranquilizers. Imagine living in your bedroom for your entire life. Polar bears roam dozens of miles a day while elephants can cover 50 miles in search of food and water. But at zoos, there is little room, regular feedings, and no room for natural instincts. These mental disorders result in behavior problems that can lead to fatal situations. With the combination of captive-born illnesses and insufficient regulations on the zoo’s part, countless animals and people have died. At the San Francisco Zoo, a Siberian tiger named Tatiana leaped out of her enclosure and attacked a group of men throwing rocks and taunting her. One man did not survive and Tatiana was fatally shot by police officers. It was later discovered Tatiana’s walls were four feet short of requirement. At the Toledo Zoo, a Sloth bear named Medusa was locked up for hibernation and later found dead. Toledo zookeepers did not know her endangered species does not hibernate. At the Copenhagen Zoo, a healthy two year old giraffe named Marius was publicly killed, skinned, and fed to the zoo lions because he “outlived his cuteness”. Marius was killed despite a petition with thousands of signatures, offers from other zoos, and a $680k offer from a private individual. And most famously, at the Cincinnati Zoo, a lowland gorilla by the name of Harambe was fatally shot after a toddler fell into his enclosure. It is highly debated whether the boy’s life was in imminent or immediate danger and whether Harambe should have been shot.  All of this is caused by the inevitable effects of locking an animal in a space that could never compare to its natural habitat no matter how big or brightly painted.

Zoos lie about where they get their animals and their “conservation” efforts. Despite what they say, zoos do import endangered animals from the wild or from illegal poachers. In 2016, zoos in Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas imported elephants from Swaziland. Taking animals out of the wild is obviously counterproductive and detrimental to the wild elephants’ health. Zoos breed animals without limit, from the first year of life on, an animal can be expected to be shipped from zoo to zoo, or even from continent to continent. They are forced to breed and in many cases receive harsh punishment or beatings from their temporary keepers. Sissy, an Asian elephant from Thailand, experienced just that. She was torn from her mother and shipped, bred, and held captive for countless years. Fortunately, Sissy now lives in an elephant sanctuary where she lives peacefully. However, Sissy is a rare and lucky case, as almost no zoo animal has a happy ending. And opposite of popular belief, captive animals die prematurely. For example, even working Asian elephants live longer than those in captivity. 40% of lion cubs in captivity die before they are one month old which is higher than in the wild where there are many more fatal factors, like predation and inclement weather.

Speaking of baby animals, nothing draws in more people, or money, than a new baby animal at the zoo. But what happens when those babies grow up? They are either slaughtered, euthanized, fed to other zoo animals, or even worse, sold into a circus. It does not stop at baby animals though, any animal deemed unprofitable can become a surplus animal and face the horrific fate that follows. In fact, the chief veterinarian of Cleveland Zoo has encouraged members of the zoo community to experiment on surplus animals. Zoos say they breed to release and help repopulate the species, but animals born in captivity cannot survive in the wild. They don’t develop the instincts or abilities their wild counterparts do.  Right down the road at the Houston Zoo, not one of the 14 known elephants born there are alive. Our local zoo has also made several lists titled Worst Zoos for Elephants. The Houston Zoo continues to breed the elephants despite the deaths in hopes to ¨get rid of the disease¨, but the gruesome procedures are anything but hopeful.

The solution is simple: stop giving your money to these horrific institutions. If you must, go to animal sanctuaries, do your research and make sure they are true sanctuaries. Be the change that will save these animals all over the world.

1 Comment

One Response to “Opinion: Why You Should Never Go To Any Zoo Again”

  1. Maddie Smith on January 13th, 2017 8:57 am

    Marius in his glory days as he was loved by all who interacted with him.

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Opinion: Why You Should Never Go To Any Zoo Again