Zoo Life, Entertainment Life...Wildlife!
Most of the photos are provided by yours truly from my day at the Buffalo Zoo on Wednesday July 22, 2015
So, how many times have you visited a zoo or circus when you were a kid? How many times since adulthood with your own children? Yeah, I'm guilty of it too. As recently as last Wednesday, in fact. That visit, has rekindled a fire in me that had started to be suffocated by my work in the corporate world.
So what did you see when you went to the zoo? I'm sure you walked around (possibly with a "zoo map") through buildings and walkways and "habitats". I'm sure you saw the Hippos and Giraffes. The Lions, Tigers and Bears...I think you get it. I'm sure you saw their young and couldn't help but, "awe" at them. I don't blame any of you for it. I did it too. I'm sure you saw all of it...but did you?
Did you see the tiny "habitats"? Did you see the cages? Did you stop, even for a moment, to remember that they were once roaming wild? Once happy and restriction-less? Once free? Did you stop and put yourself in their hooves? I know I did.
So, I started researching to see if these great animals that we all "know" and love really were affected by these conditions. I questioned it myself.
On one hand, they are protected by these zoos and circuses from the poachers and harsh conditions that their natural habitats are experiencing. But, on the other hand these places are keeping them from being what they were born to be...wild and free. I think that most of us often forget that these amazing creatures are creatures of the world, like we are, and that they had homes and families that they were taken from. I refuse to acknowledge that they are "protected" by these cages for one more day.
But once I saw them “up close and personal,” I realized that the animals were miserable. It instantly became very clear to me that the animals imprisoned in zoos are sad and don’t want to be kept in artificial environments, have people gawk at them, listen to children who bang on the windows of their enclosures, or have cameras flashing in their faces. To put it simply, zoos are imprisoning animals who want to be free.— Michelle Carr
- The Reality of Zoos | Animal-Free Entertainment | Living | PETA
Next up in our "Dear Abbie"–style series, we are going to answer a question about the cruelty of imprisoning animals at zoos.
So let's compare with facts, shall we?
I have a huge soft spot in my heart for Elephants. They are some of the most majestic, intelligent and loving mammals. Yet, they are closer to extinction every day because of poachers killing them for their ivory tusks. Elephants (in or out of captivity) depend on a lot of exercise and close contact with other elephants.
- They live with as many as 100 other elephants
- They have constant companionship
- Emotionally attached to other members
- Show signs of mourning when a member dies
- They walk up to 40 miles a day
- They play, bathe in rivers and engage in constant exercise
- Can live up to 60-70+ years
- Often kept alone or in units of two or three
- Deprived of socialization
- Frequently shows abnormal signs of stress (like head bobbing or swaying)
- Chained in place, little to no exercise
- Become depressed and overweight
- Often subjected to physical abuse with bullhooks etc.
- Often die before the age of 40
- Prone to major health problems ( tuberculosis, arthritis, and foot abscesses, and breeding programs have proved unsuccessful, with many calves dying prematurely)
*During my visit to the Buffalo Zoo on Wednesday, I longed to find the Elephant habitat. They are my inspiration for this article. Finally, on our way out of the zoo, we found it. It was a brick building with a little window near where the elephant was and a larger "viewing" window on the front of the building. As we approached the viewing window (with the rest of the people herd) I over-heard a lot of people saying things like "Oh, how beautiful!" or "Look how happy she is, she's dancing". Then I got my chance to see her. She was beautiful, they were right about that. But, she was anything but happy. As I peered inside to get a look (remember how I had been waiting the whole trip to see her?) my heart broke. She was alone, which is a horrible situation to begin with. But, the "dancing" that they thought she was doing, was actually more of a swaying motion. As I mentioned earlier, elephants in captivity will often sway or "head bob" which are signs of mental breakdown. I guess you could say she was "losing her mind" and that, that was hard to watch. All my anticipation to see an animal that I love so much, and then to see her being wasted away and being broken down...it was time to leave.*
>The following photo is the only picture I could bare to take of her<
- Largest of the "big" cats
- Can weigh up to 850 pounds
- Territorial, solitary, but still social
- Females usually live/travel across a 7.7 square mile area
- Males usually live/travel across a 23-39 square mile area
- Love water
- Excellent swimmers
- Sometimes kept as pets
- Small enclosures, little to no enrichment
- Poor diet
- More in captivity than in the wild
- Zoochosis- Similar to the elephant, the tigers (and other big cats) will often pace or show other signs of major depression, and anxiety
- 500 times more deadly than dogs in the United States
- "One form of tiger you are sure to see in captivity, the White Tiger, cannot even be found in the wild. For years, humans have inbred tigers with the genetic defect that causes white pigmentation, leading to deformities and crippling disabilities – all for the sake of using these “rare” tigers as attractions"
*I bet you never would have thought that this "peaceful" looking kitty was going through so much "silent" pain*
- Closest primate relatives to humans
- They play, interact and travel with each other
- Develop lifelong family bonds
- Mothers and their young are inseparable for at least the first seven years of life
- They make and use tools
- Communicate with one another
- They choose their friends with care
- Forage for different foods
- Groom themselves (and each other)
- Play with children and their friends
- Take naps
- Often kept in zoos, as pets or even captured for biomedical research
- Lack the chance to solve problems
- Can't forage for their food
- Shows signs of stress including: over grooming on arms and legs;constant rocking, spitting, and throwing feces
The Nonhuman Rights Project is working to have chimps classified as “persons,” but it hasn’t happened yet.
Gorilla video from my day at the Buffalo Zoo
I started filming too late...The large male gorilla featured in this video had jumped at the glass and scared the kids in front of us. He was fed up and agitated by the daily entertainment that he and the other gorillas had to provide to humans.
Marine animals in captivity
There are many stories of humans being injured by Orcas in captivity. If we look at the "shows" that the Orcas take part in (usually with an employee swimming with them and doing tricks) compared to how an Orca acts in the wild, we would see that when the Orca is throwing the employee into the air to do a flip, it is demonstrating how it treats its' prey in the wild. No wonder employees are getting hurt. When you act like prey, you will be treated as prey.
- Can live 30-50 years, many make it much longer than that!
- Swim up to 100 miles per day
- Eat fresh fish
- Live in "pods" (similar to a herd) with their family members
- Have complex relationships with others
- Yet to have a report of an Orca harming a human in the wild
- Usually only live up to 9 years
- Very stressed by the unnatural conditions
- The stress causes them to become aggressive and have killed three humans and have injured others
- Little to no exercise
- Little to no mental stimulation
- Often suffer from dorsal fin collapse
- "Lolita, who was tragically captured in an infamous round up in Puget Sound that left four calves dead, has been kept in the smallest orca tank in the U.S. at the Miami Seaquarium for 43 years"
*I'm sure we have all heard about the accusations towards places like Seaworld. I'm also sure we have seen their "know the facts" Seaworld commercial where they say that the accusations are false and that they wouldn't work for Seaworld if they were true. From the research I have done, I believe that even if the workers aren't "beating" or physically injuring the animals, the conditions they are kept in and the training methods used are still inhumane*
Act like prey, treated like prey
- Complex social and family bonds
- Swim between 40-100 miles per day
- Socializing, playing and foraging for their food
- Little, to no stimulation
- Far less space
- Trained for entertainment via food deprivation
- There is a recorded case of a captive dolphin committing suicide from her misery and depression of being in captivity
- In the words of Laura Bridgeman, program associate with the Earth Island Institute, “With mounting scientific and anecdotal evidence, it is no longer possible to assume that dolphins are not cognitively complex, self-aware beings.”
Enough is enough...
I know that there was a lot of information to absorb here and there is still so much information out there about these situations. I chose to talk about a few different species that I found quite a bit of information on. But, there are so many animals out there that need our help! Supporting zoos and other unnatural "habitats" that were simply created for our selfish entertainment is so upsetting. I know that I won't be back to the Buffalo Zoo. I plan to be part of the movement to end animal cruelty of any kind. I hope you will join me.
Here are just a few ways to help: