Why I disagree with the argument that zoos help with conservation
I thought that zoos do a lot for conservation but actually the facts make for startling reading.
Figures from Freedom For Animals resources suggest 95% of animals in UK zoos are not endangered and 25% of zoos don’t even have threatened species.
So animals are being bred in captivity with no real intention of releasing them into the wild.
And surely if conservation was the aim, then organisations would be working directly in the countries where endangered animals live?
Sadly animals bred in zoos are rarely released into the wild so there is no tangible benefit to the species or the environment.
There are arrangements between zoos where they ‘swap’ animals if they have too many of a particular type, but frequently where there is a glut of one species, the animals are culled.
You may recall the outcry when Marius the healthy, young giraffe was killed by Copenhagen zoo and then dismembered in front of the public.
His crime was that there were simply too many giraffes at that time.
Closer to home a zoo in the North West was in the news a couple of years ago due to a ‘keeper’ being killed and 500 animals dying in four years.
Freedom For Animals – a leading organisation on captive animals – says that research shows that a lion will spend 48%* of their time pacing aimlessly – add to that their sleeping and eating time then they really don’t have much quality of life.
Even though you may think that the space given by the zoo is vast, it is still 18,000* times smaller than the space they would roam in the wild.
Many animals suffer boredom related injuries from insufficient stimulation and autonomy over their lives.
Have you ever wondered why birds in zoos but outdoors don’t fly away? It is because they can’t – they are subjected to a practice called pinioning which cuts one wing to stop the bird from flying.
Aquariums don’t fare much better, with animals captured, packed in crates and shipped thousands of miles to artificial environments like glass tunnels so we can be closer to them.
And if you are impressed by performing dolphins in aquariums when you go on holiday, consider the fact that for each dolphin you see, another 14 dolphins have been killed when their pods are captured for the entertainment and meat market.
Mobile zoos tend to be hired by schools and events like birthdays – but are we really teaching our children respect for animals and how they would live in the wild when we bring them out of boxes or cages for handling by inexperienced children?
We can learn a lot from seeing animals in their natural habitat but there is a very good reason why we don’t see lions, tigers, giraffes in our streets – they don’t belong here.
So let’s stick to educational TV programmes like Blue Planet and Dynasties where we can really see animals living as they should.
*Figures taken from Freedom For Animals resources