In 2008 at the Singapore Zoo, three white Bengal tigers attacked and mauled a zoo cleaner, Nordin bin Mondongto, to death after the man walked through a moat surrounding their enclosure. Researchers asked themselves what would be the cause of these vicious behaviors being reported from many zoos across the globe, the answer being the harsh environment zoo animals are surrounded by. Many people are not aware of the harsh treatment the animals endure. Zoos, circuses, and famous attractions like SeaWorld do not offer the best of circumstances for their animals. These uncomfortable conditions may be the cause of the hundreds of violent behaviors being reported by zoos around the world. Of course, most families enjoy taking a trip to the zoo because they offer a unique experience of encountering exotic animals. However, people need to realize that animals are living creatures that should not be forced into show, or held behind glass walls to be gawked at. The first point that this essay will address is the simple fact that zoo owners have propaganda in mind, and not preservation. “Zoos help save endangered species, by saving hurt animals and rehabilitating them,” is an excuse many zoo officials use. Zoos claim to want to protect species from extinction, which sounds like a noble goal, but zoo officials usually favor exotic or popular animals, rather than threatened or endangered local wildlife. The Chinese government, for example, “rents” pandas to zoos worldwide for fees of more than $1 million per year. It is questionable whether the profits are being directed toward panda-conservation efforts at all.
Also, because tigers are the most favorable “crowd pleasers,” recent studies prove that there are more tigers in captivity than those that exist in the wild. There are thought to be between 5,000 and 10,000 tigers in U.S. cages and 90% of them are in miserable roadside zoos, backyard breeder facilities, circus wagons and pet homes. Before long, the few tigers left in the wild will wither off, and the animals in captivity will not be able to be relocated and thrive in their what-once-was natural environment. Next, the reader should know that the animals that are said to be “in their natural habitat,” are in confined areas that are less than a tenth of the area they would naturally be in, and are restricted by many factors. Birds’ wings may be clipped so that they cannot fly, aquatic animals often go without adequate water, and many animals who naturally live in large herds or family groups are kept isolated. Animals are closely confined, lack privacy, and have little opportunity for mental stimulation or physical exercise. These abnormal conditions often result in abnormal and self-destructive behavior, known as “zoochosis.” An Oxford University study based on decades of observing animals in captivity and in the wild found that animals such as polar bears, lions, tigers, and cheetahs “show the most evidence of stress and/or psychological dysfunction in captivity” and concluded that “the keeping of naturally wide-ranging carnivores should be either fundamentally improved or phased out.” Last but not least, the reader should know that keeping animals in captivity is not the only danger posed at the zoo.
Even when the animals are bred in captivity, generations later, exotic animals will retain all of their natural instincts. They cannot be considered “domesticated” or “tamed.” Every year, captive, exotic animals are involved in incidents in which humans are injured or even killed. In 2007, Tatiana, a Siberian tiger, escaped her substandard enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo and was shot to death after she killed one person and injured two others. This was not the only fatal incident occurring because of the animals being held in captivity. On February 26, 2010, a 12,000 lb. Orca whale called Tilikum mauled and killed his trainer Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld during a performance. Also, in Colorado, on April 24, 2009, a volunteer was vigorously mauled by a tiger at “Big Cats of Serenity Springs.” The list of these aggressive outbreaks goes on and on. Researchers say that the awful conditions animals are unnatural and are the cause of animals expressing abnormal behaviors. Zoos may be fun for the family, but are definitely not fun for the animals. Taking animals out of their natural habitat, forcing them to live miserable lifestyles, and putting humans at risk is not worth a fun family trip to the zoo. Treating living creatures like they have no feelings is never okay and should be considered inhumane. Zoos need to be exposed as the pitiful prisons they are, and actions should be imposed to stop the animal abuse.
“Captive Wildlife Crisis | WildAnimalSanctuary.org : America’s Premier Sanctuary For Large Carnivores.” Captive Wildlife Crisis | WildAnimalSanctuary.org : America’s Premier Sanctuary For Large Carnivores. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2014. . “Get The Facts:.” Ten Fast Facts about
Captive Exotic Animals. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Apr. 2014. . “News Facts.” The Tiger Next Door. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2007. . “Zoos: Pitiful Prisons.” PETA. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2014. .
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