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When I was young I visited a zoo maybe a half dozen times. At the time, I thought it was amazing to be able to see animals that I wouldn’t normally ever come across in the wild, though most of them (lions, tigers and bears) I probably didn’t want to! I thought it was educational to see how they ‘lived’ in what would appear to be their natural habitat. Later on, I would discover there wasn’t anything natural about it. Like many of us, I simply didn’t know any different, but I do now. I have friends that still take their children to zoos to ‘learn’ about the animals, but what are they really learning? Animals aren’t supposed to BE in captivity, so what are we actually teaching our children? Think about that for a while.
It breaks my heart to hear about some of the abuse at zoos and marine exhibits. And even if the animal isn’t particularly ‘mistreated’, they’re still locked up. Consider a human being locked up, for no reason what so ever. So why on earth would we lock up these beautiful creatures? We don’t have to have a half dozen tigers roaming around inside an enclosure to be able to learn about them. We have biologists that go to Africa and learn about them in their true natural habitat. They then share their knowledge with the rest of us. And if you want to truly better understand the life of a wild animal, then head to a conservation. Your donation, or cost of your visit will help pay for the important research. And some may even help pay for the anti-poachers. But that’s another matter, for another blog post.
Lets take this conversation back to the zoo, or the animal exhibit, or marine exhibit. You can call it anything you want, but its all the same. Animals put on display for our amusement. We are a cruel society, but I believe with each new day, we can change the direction of how these animals are treated. And with all these animals being kept in confinement, it isn’t surprising when there have been attacks at zoo’s and wildlife parks. Have you seen the documentary Blackfish ? According to data from Bornfree.org, in the past 26 years, there have been 256 injuries from animal attacks at accredited and non-accredited zoos, menageries and wild animal parks in the U.S. This includes our own human stupidity, like climbing into an enclosure, or letting your child climb into one.
Here’s the bottom line. Just don’t go. Tell your friends don’t go. Why not save up your vacation money and instead of heading off to the Bahamas, go to a Nature Reserve and See The Wild. You can help rehabilitate a chimpanzee in South Africa, or volunteer with the Costa Rica Wildlife Expedition. The opportunities are endless and I guarantee it will be a life changing experience.