The ZOO: Fur, Fun & Depression?

Stupid, Irritating Humans

Wild animals like to live their lives in privacy. Instead of privacy, zoo animals are openly exposed to crowds of noisy, irritating humans who throw food at them or make stupid animal noises and gestures to force their attention. The animals spend day after day, week after week, year after year in the same prison enclosure in a state of total monotony. There’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. Zoo animals would like nothing more than to tear their human prison guards and visitors to shreds…and for good reason. The problem with zoos is that the animals are confined against their will by their human captors or breeders in enclosures that prevent them from living their lives in a natural way. No matter how big the zoo is, it can’t compare to the natural habitat the animals were meant to be in.

Anti-Depressants For Zoo Animals

Repetitive movements are clear signs of stress in zoo animals. If you see a zoo elephant swaying her trunk back and forth or bears, wolves and tigers pacing back and forth, this is stress behaviour. Other signs of stress or boredom are pacing backwards and forwards, head bobbing, rocking, repeatedly retracing their steps, sitting motionless or biting themselves. The scientific term for repetitive behaviors in captive animals is “Abnormal Repetitive Behavior” also know as ARB. These repetitive behaviors are caused by depression, boredom and psychoses. Some zoos actually give anti-depressants or tranquillizers to control the behavior problems of some of their animals. Elephants in the wild are used to traveling many miles a day in herds of about ten related adults and their offspring. They are very social animals. In zoos, they are usually kept in pairs or even isolated. Their enclosures are incredibly small, compared to what they are used to in the wild. It is no surprise that elephants don’t do well in zoos at all. The average lifespan of zoo elephants is about 16-18 years, but wild elephants live 50-70 years.

Zoo Animals Are Unhappy

Animals love privacy. Zoo animals have no privacy. They 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. Animals like polar bears or felines are used to hunting. In a zoo, they are deprived of this natural need. Most animals would naturally roam for tens of miles a day. Once you start recognizing the signs of stress in zoo animals and understand how sad and claustrophobic their lives must be, zoos will look completely different to you.

Forced Breeding Programs For Profit

Zoos spend huge amounts of money on their breeding programs, even though breeding animals in captivity isn’t the best way to help in conservation.  It is at least 50 times more expensive to maintain elephants in zoos than to protect equivalent numbers of elephants in the wild. Animals need tpo be protected in their natural habitat to balance the whole eco-system. So why are zoos so interested in breeding animals? Because they attract huge amounts of people and huge amounts of money! Zoos main interest is making money and baby animals are their most powerful marketing tool. It is common for zoo babies to be rejected by their mothers in this unnatural environment. In some situations zoo keepers will step in and take care of the rejected babies, in other situations they choose to simply let the babies die.

What Happens To Surplus Animals?

Zoos have a systematic “overproduction” of animals. Surplus animals are the unwanted animals for whom there is no more space at the Zoo… like the cute babies when they’ve stopped being cute at the end of the season. These surplus animals are either killed  – and sometimes fed to their fellow zoo habitants – or sold to other zoos or dealers.

Zoos: What’s Good About Them?

Almost all of us grow up with fond memories of visiting the zoo with our parents, grandparents or friends. Where else do you get to see those amazing, large elephants? Or the cute monkeys climbing and playing? Or giraffes with their long, long, long necks? Unless you are able to afford a trip to Kenya, the zoo is the only place where you can see these amazing animals up close. Zoos claim to help with conservation but most zoo animals are not endangered animals. Zoos don’t even bother to register their animals on an international species database. Most zoo animals released in the wild don’t survive. 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. 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.

What’s the Alternative?

If we don’t support or visit zoos, how else can we learn about these amazing animals? Animals need to live the life they were meant to live. Learn about these amazing wild animals by watching wildlife videos, television programs or by reading about them on the internet or in books and magazines. It is unloving to watch depressed and imprisoned animals who are living a horribly sad life for our own selfish enjoyment.

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4 Comments

Filed under Social Economics, Urban intelligence DVD Vol 1.

4 responses to “The ZOO: Fur, Fun & Depression?

  1. nice post really zoo is the great house of animals in which we can see lots of animals thanks for sharing a great information about zoo

  2. Pingback: Zoos. What do you think? | Living Life in Glorious Colour

  3. Pingback: social animals and cultural evolution of herds « the magic of language blog: partnering with reality – by JR Fibonacci

  4. luann

    I agree with your statement. I was just at the Phoenix Zoo and saw a elephant, by herself, sad, lonely, depressed, swaying back and forth, looking away from the people in the corner of her pen. It was so depressing to watch this intelligent, beautiful and social animal exhibiting these actions. A volunteer was there by the enclosure, and I asked why there were not other elephants in the pen with her. Her reply is that they let them be in the pen by themselves at times. They all don’t get along with each other. I also remarked that the elephant was moving and acting like she was depressed. She told me, why would you think the elephant is depressed? My response was, the swaying back and forth, in one place. People who are depressed will do repetitive motions. Her response was “They are not human”. My response was then if we are so human then why would we treat this animal so inhumanely by letting her be alone, and captive in this small pen with nothing to do. She looked away from me, and I left with a heavy heart.

    I did write them and tell them what I felt. Hopefully I will be able to talk to them soon. I feel these animals in these confined environments are all sad, lonely and depressed. I however have seen animal refuges where the animals roam free in a huge acreage and they seem pretty happy.

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