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Should All Zoos and Aquariums be Banned as They Extort and Abuse Animals?

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We all have a childhood memory of being taken to the zoo or an aquarium as a child, these memories hold much value in our hearts. But what if as children we understood that zoos were just institutions that held animals captive in order for our amusement and our parent’s money? How amused would we children be after learning that zoos and aquariums were unfit to provide a safe and liveable environment for the animals that we gazed upon? Zoos and aquariums are believed to be institutions that are built to help animals in need and animals that cannot handle living in the wild but these claims are now known as false as activists in support of the betterment of all animals continue to uncover the horrors that happen within the walls of zoos and aquariums.

Zoos are beneficial as they are a system built for wildlife conservation and allow society to reconnect to the living world that they are unable to discover in their everyday lives. The Irish Times, Washington Post, New York Times, and The Guardian are all news outlets that have indulged in this conversation of abolition of zoological parks and aquariums. When contemplating the shut down of all zoos and aquariums, whilst considering the positive contributions of zoos and aquariums, it’s also very important to give thought to the increased rates of deaths and abuse endured by these wild animals which is a much more powerful sentiment that all zoos and aquariums should be banned.

The first zoo was established in 1500 B.C. by Queen Hatshepsut with animals from all over Africa. Emperor Wen Wang later on built his own zoo in China in order to show off his power and wealth. Zoological parks have definitely changed since the menagerie time period, as modern zoos are now built with the excuse to provide conservation wildlife instead of being built to show power and wealth. During the 1970s activists arose in NYC against Central Park Zoo, “All the big animals in the Central Park Zoo…would be taken from their homes at the zoo…it was cruel to keep large animals in the limited space at the Central Park Zoo.” (NY Times) The author of this article acknowledges the zoo as the “home” of these animals but how can this be possible if these animals were taken from their true habitats in the wild which led to generational differences between the animals who grew up in the wild or in the zoo as animals that grow up in zoos cannot survive out in the wild.

These animals were also being treated so cruelly, a testimony by the director of the New York Zoological Society, that the New York Zoological Society had no choice but to give the Parks Department an ultimatum of giving up responsibility of the Zoo or shutting down the zoo completely, The new renovations of the Central Park Zoo would include small animals only as previously elephants, gorillas, lions, and more, were bound by bars, not allowing the movement and daily exercise these animals would naturally take in the wild. The effects of these animals are described within the Irish Times as elephants held in captivity at the Dublin zoo exhibit chronic health problems that are the cause of being confined, that include but are not limited to arthritis, foot disease, skin ailments, psychological problems, and reproductive difficulties as the areas within the zoos do not meet their needs for exercise and natural behavior.

The Irish Times also explain the serious injuries that have also been experienced by the animals being held captive in the Dublin zoo, “A white rhino was shot on zoo grounds, penguins died from toxic paint in their enclosure, sea lions went blind from the chlorine in their pond. Two polar bears went insane, with typical pacing back and forth continuously. A situation with another polar bear cub, ‘Knut’, in Nuremberg zoo, is causing a major debate about the rights of caged animals in Germany.” (Right) All kinds of animals, big or small, are unsafe in the walls of zoos and aquariums. Zoos claim to be a beneficial system towards wildlife conservation, whilst animals continue to die at the hands of animal curators, resident zoologists, and zookeepers. These animals do not live the long lives that they would live in the wild. Instead these animals have no choice but to be held captive and suffer horrible injuries due to the habitats that were built for them.

Animal activists have been protesting for the better treatment of wild animals long before recent news and the New York Times has digitized most of their articles to be able to back track the rise in activists in New York City, “In October, a 28‐year‐old zoo keeper locked himself in an office of the monkey house at the Prospect Park Zoo and smashed its windows in protest over the treatment of the animals. In November, several hundred people marched in front of the Central Park Zoo to demand that it be closed, as a kindness to the animals.” (NY Times) People who don’t even acknowledge the treatment of these animals are overlooking the abuse and terror that these animals go through. Protests of animal captivity are not only being committed by activists but people who don’t believe in these institutions that are built for the death and abuse of animals. Animals are unable to advocate for themselves so while they fight through their pain it’s also our responsibility as the leading and overpowering race on this earth we have to take action in support of the better treatment of all animals.

As previously stated, zoos and aquariums claim to be systems that are advantageous when it comes to wildlife conservation and saving species from extinction, animals “Trapped from the wild, sometimes with parent animals being killed (young animals being easier to train and manage), many of them died on their long and horrific journeys to other continents and climates. These animals were treated as prized public attractions or captive slaves. They experienced fear, hardship, an alien environment, barren enclosures, and their mental and physical needs were ignored.” (Right) This industry uses these excuses knowing its good marketing to not only attract the public towards visiting a facility with animals they don’t see in their everyday lives but that they are investing their money into an industry for the good of saving these animals.

Not only do these animals suffer inside the walls of these facilities but also on the way there. Animals are most likely forced into crates and travel far distances with no water or food. These environments are much more dangerous than their final destination. In the article Should Zoos Be Closed from Irish Times by Bernie Right brings attention to the two views sought out by two people. Bernie Wright does not believe in zoos and their ability to extort animals while harming them emotionally and physically. Bernie Wright also believes that zoos claim to be saving animals that do not need saving as their population is in great numbers. Zoos are systems of neglect and murder as plenty of animals die each year due to being held captive in these unliveable places. Zoos are immoral and should be shut down for the better treatment of animals and to stop the abuse that goes on within these walls. More conservation sites should be created in order to help protect and save animals without the involvement of extortion.

Although many people say otherwise as zoos can be beneficial toward wildlife as they create a good classroom environment. In the article Should Zoos Be Closed from Irish Times by Bernie Right, Veronica Chrisp gives insight on how zoos specifically the Dublin zoo provides a range of benefits, “The modern zoo fulfils multiple roles: as a living classroom, conservation centre, animal sanctuary, centre of excellence in animal husbandry, animal welfare, science and research, a business and a major visitor attraction.” (Right) Zoos can be a great source for research and the better care of wild animals. Many zoos have trained and educated staff with the ability to care for these animals. Knowing that these animals are better cared for only increases the reason for consumers wanting to invest and give their money to zoos. All zoos allow children to discover more than they thought they could as they have the ability to learn about wildlife they have never seen before. Zoos maintain a learning environment, a place of wildlife conservation, a source of research that all makeup the reason for its establishment.

Zoos have the ability to keep animals safe and secure which is why so many species from around the world are placed in these facilities. While keeping animals safe and secure zoos have the ability to maintain ecosystems while being a place that uses education to the best of its abilities. “Education certainly justifies a well-run zoo’s existence, he insists. On the other hand, Attenborough acknowledges that some animals fare better than others in zoos. ‘Modern aquariums are particularly successful, with their vast ceiling-high tanks in which you can see whole communities of different species of fish living together. They are absolutely fabulous,’” (McKie) Zoos allow kids to discover education up close and experience a part of life they have never seen before. Zoos can impact children that some kids may dream to become wildlife specialists, veterinarians, zoologists, etc. Aquariums specialize in preserving life as they have much more space than zoos do and allow ecosystems to flourish.

On the contrary to many beliefs some zoos have recorded accomplishments of preserving and saving species as described by Robin McKie in the article Is it Time to Shut Down the Zoos, “…arabianoryx was hunted to extinction in the wild by 1972 but was later reintroduced – originally with animals from San Diego safari park – to Oman. Further reintroductions have since taken place in Saudi Arabia and Israel…” (McKie) This is a prime example of how zoos can help wildlife. Zoological parks create habitats that give animals the ability to survive and reproduce. The people who work in zoos use their efforts to treat sick animals and in the end save the lives of these animals that suffer in the wild by themselves. Some people believe that animals are safer in zoos than in the wild. This could be true as zoos have the resources to provide and create a safe environment for the wildlife. Zoos can be beneficial towards wildlife and can create an open learning environment for generations to come so why shut down zoos?
Zoos are incapable of providing a safe and liveable environment and is an industry built on the destruction of wildlife.

Although not all zoos fall under this phenomenon, plenty of zoological parks have gotten away with neglect and murder of the wildlife they claim to be keeping safe. Japan is an island country that consists of more than 6,000 islands, it’s a country that is surrounded entirely by water. Taiji is a town in Japan that uses the dolphin cove as a source for their economy, “The animals fetch about $500 for meat. A live bottlenose, the easiest species to train, is worth between $8,000 and $10,000, and more than $40,000 after training, experts say. The live dolphins are mostly sent to China, where the marine park industry is booming…” (Denyer) The animals that aren’t being eaten are being held captive, abused, and extorted for money and the entertainment of the human race. Dolphins are being used in Japan for profit and used as commerce. Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist who works at the Washington-based Animal Welfare Institute is not surprised by the effects of dolphins suffering while being held in captivity as she knows testifies that “Dolphins typically swim 25 miles a day in the wild and live in complex social groups…”(Denyer) People base their opinions of zoos on some zoological parks having the ability to reintroduce some species but these does not speak for all animals.

Not all animals are going extinct and zoos participate in the amount of animal deaths each year. Scientists and zoologists are coming out to speak down on zoos as they do not benefit the wildlife trapped inside these facilities. The effects of zoological parks are much worse than the benefits. Zoos are only built for the entertainment of the public and is an industry that extorts and kills innocent animals. Zoos were made for the entertainment of the public “… rather than education. The Alliance for Animal Rights’s observations at Dublin Zoo have shown that even if learning material is available, little of it is absorbed by the public and most zoo-goers disregard it. Children, especially, rush from one exhibit to another, pausing only if animals are being fed or performing cute tricks.” (Right) At a zoo people tend to go from one exhibit to the other. Children immediately run to see the next animal so what information are they exactly absorbing. Let’s be honest about how many people actually learn and retain the new discovered information. Zoos have a different agenda, they are industries that help the economy flourish. As zoological parks around the world are apart of the world trading system and as they attract tourists and locals with unseen wild animals, they have become a million dollar industry. These million dollar industries extort animals to attract consumers and continue to make up excuses as to why they have the ability to use, abuse, and harm animals.

Education is not in the placement of these zoological parks. Zoos are not homes but a prison, but “With no predators, some animals might live longer in zoos, but at what price? … True conservation must conserve animals and their habitat in the wild. Animal species down to their last few surviving members might be taken into captivity, but only as a last resort, and these can live at specialist conservation centres.” (Right) There are plenty of different types of zoos but urban and suburban zoos are the worst as they provide little space that can lead to horrible occurrences involving these animals as described before. Zoos are not homes but a prison. There are four different types of zoological parks, safari parks, game reserves, urban and suburban zoos, and petting zoos. Safari parks are open enclosed spaces that allow the public to drive or walk around but safari parks are not as great as they seem as plenty of news outlets have reported accidents of people experiencing life threatening situations or death. Safari parks are zoological parks that are not safe for the public nor the animal being kept in the enclosed area.

Safari parks, especially in Europe, are built for the entertainment of the public as these parks are built in theme parks, resorts, or golf courses. Game reserves are zoological parks that give animals the ability to naturally reproduce as their species is kept in large, narrow bodies of land and their ecosystems are ‘protected.’ Sounds too good to be true right? That’s because it is, these types of zoos allow people to go hunting and shoot these innocent beings. This type of zoo was established for only the attraction of society. Petting zoos are filled with small animals that are able to travel, usually with circuses or carnivals. These zoos are only developed and established for money and people’s entertainment, not for the conservation of wildlife. Zoos steal animals from their natural habitats for extortion and entertainment uses only, then will claim to try to preserve a species that isn’t even going extinct. These animals could be living long lives in their natural habitats but are held captive without a say. Zoos are unfit to provide a safe environment for animals and cannot provide for their well needed care daily therefore zoos should be shut down for good.

All zoos and aquariums should be banned as they extort and abuse animals as they do not have the resources and space to give animals proper care. Although some may disagree seeing that some zoos have made strong accomplishments by reintroducing species, these are only very few accomplishments. The animals in zoos are not going extinct but their death numbers are increasing with the help of zoos and aquariums. If wildlife conservation is the goal then more conservation sites should be created rather than zoos. Zoos are million dollar industries that do not conserve and protect wildlife which is important to remember when contemplating the shut down of all zoos and aquariums, whilst considering the positive contributions of zoos and aquariums, it’s also very important to give thought to the increased rates of deaths and abuse endured by these wild animals which is a much more powerful sentiment that all zoos and aquariums should be banned.

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