Sunday, September 5, 2010

Humane animal exploitation - Zoos

During a discussion with my colleague on a fiction book, she told me the author said it would be better for animals to be kept in zoos as it is just like returning back to the safety of home. I couldn't agree with what the author said.

Firstly, the animals were not in cages when they were born, a cage is not their home, but it's more like a prison cell which they were put in later. The small "territory" for them is hardly enough for them compared to what they get in the wild. Although they do get some safety from the harsh elements and predators, being enclosed in small space for life brings about stress in them and many of them exhibit stress by repetitive actions such as pacing around in their cages. It's just like at first we can roam our own neighbourhood, but now we have been confined to moving about only in our house with no TV, no music, no books, no computer, no snacks etc. for life. Who wouldn't go crazy? It's hardly a better choice then running around in the wild.

We discussed on the ability of zoo-bred animals to adapt to the wild too. In my opinion, zoo-bred animals were not zoo-bred in the first place if their parents were not caged, they were supposed to be born in the wild. Besides, the reason for breeding zoo animals is basically to rake in more money. Everyone loves to see cute little baby animals, breeding them helps in profits. As for adapting to the wild, many animals have successfully been re-trained to do so.

When I was in Thailand many years ago, I visited their zoo with my classmates. It was basically a money raking place. Before we enter the animal enclosures, we can choose to buy food to feed the animals. When the zoo bus arrived at the enclosure for herbivorous animals, they came rushing salivating at us before we could reach out to them, gobbling down our food in no time. When we reach the giraffe enclosure, the giraffes rushed towards us and stick their heads into the bus and gobble down whatever fruit and stuff we have left in the containers, splattering their saliva on our bags and us. Are they that greedy or it's because they are so hungry?

There was a horse where we have to pay to ride on in the zoo. The horse was very weak and almost can't take it when you mount it (and I was not even an adult), it was almost reluctant to walk. The worse thing was, when we are about to leave, those zoo workers made 2 people sat on it, and the horse stumbled, they almost fell off the horse. I hate to remember that I actually rode it.

We could also pay to take picture with a drugged tiger. It looked so tired it just lay there, chained and letting us stroke it's fur with our hands. When the zoo worker took it back, it just followed dumbly behind the worker. It's not known how frequently they drugged it.

Elephants carry us around too. The zoo keepers used elephants hooks to pull them by their ear while they bring us around. I am not sure if they are too happy.

Now thinking back, I regretted riding these animals. The animals are really in a pitiful state, supporting the zoos keeps their food supply, but their ill treatment continues. Not supporting the zoo may cause the zoo to close and the animals killed. It's a lose-lose situation for them. The ultimate solution is not to have zoos at all and watch nature documentaries instead which we can learn from the animals in their natural environments. I remember going to the zoo when I was young, I hardly learn anything from it, besides what a real tiger etc. looks like and behaved in their enclosures.

Some zoos in China devised a "buy animals to feed the other animals" money raking method. It's really disgusting and cruel, but the people seem to be desensitized to the suffering.

This video brings me to another issue which is the carnivorous animals in the zoos have to be sustained with meat - dead or alive. This is also too going to support animal husbandry industry. The best solution is no zoos ever.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, but you are misinformed. There is no "exploitation" of animals going on in zoos. Instead, animals are well fed, given great medical care, stimulated, kept safe, and loved in zoos by some very dedicated and skilled animal keepers. If not for zoos, many species would already be extinct. The next time you see a buffalo (bison), thank the zoos.

Allen Nyhuis, Coauthor: America's Best Zoos

dreamy said...

Hi Allen,

I am afraid this is my own experience in the thailand zoo I have visited. This isn't something that someone told me, I have seen it with my own eyes - they are not happy.

But I am sure they try to keep them happy, for what reason? So people will continue to visit and the money will come in. This is a form of exploitation. They used them in shows and photography sessions, this is also a form of exploitation.

As to species extinction, if everyone will eat less meat and conserve the forests and habitats, there won't be too many problems of extinction. How does a zoo promote species continuation if it only produce a few baby animals each year and not incoporating them back to the wild?

Besides, extinction is a natural part of evolution, if you can't adapt you get extinct. Old species will die off, new species will come about. There will never be an end to the number of new species discovered.

Anonymous said...

I am not Vegan. I am not even vegetarian. I believe in the circle of life and although this might disgust others reading this post -- I like meat. But, I don't believe in useless killing and I definitely don't believe that it's okay to steal animals out of their homes and away from their families, all for the name of "education." I don't buy it. It's money that makes the world go round and it's money that drives the Zoo engine. Animals aren't stupid and I believe that they understand the "circle of life, but I have a hard time believing that they understand the useless jailing of animals for the entertainment of two legged, weird looking animals that come walking buy every so often. It goes against their natural instincts, what they are programmed to do. It makes them feel unfulfilled. I wouldn't want that for myself or anyone in my family and I don't think it's okay to do so in the name of "humanity" to animals, because we think that they are primative or stupid. They are not and it's not humane, it's cruel. I wish there were more people who felt this way or at least would open their minds and their mouths about it. It's wrong to steal animals from their natural habitats, where they have purpose and fulfillment, to give them a useless and unfulfilled existence - all because we think that we have a right to do so. I mean get a clue. We know that animals have and continually have issue with breeding in captivity. Come on that's one of the purest, most natural and animalistic desires and they're not doing it. Hmmmm? And if they somehow are successful, we pat ourselves on the back as if we did something wonderful. I'm watching Animal Planet right now and the amount of arrogance is amazing. Simply amazing and really, really sad.

Anonymous said...

Most zoos are more humane in how they feed tigers and lions. This video is more like it is done in the wild and maybe that is what they were trying to show. I do wish they had more respect for the meat they fed to the animals and tried to teach the circle of life in a different way though.

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