My 3 year old asked me recently when we will visit the zoo again.
I told her one day soon but internally I am unsure as to what my feelings are about zoos, aquariums, circuses and the like.
On the one hand they provide education up close and personal of animals people would never otherwise have a chance to encounter. It is fascinating to see them live, and not just on TV. You realize their enormity and beauty among other interesting aspects.
What causes me to hesitate in the wondrous world of these places are the very real horrors that go on behind the scenes, at least in some of these places, I assume.
For example, take a killer whale in it’s relatively small tank. No matter how huge it is it still cannot mimic it’s home in the ocean. The movie Free Willy I watched as a child and recently again with my daughters hits home in this respect. It is literally torture to place a whale or any other animal in cages and tanks that take away the basic freedom and necessity based on their instinct of just roaming as far as animals are meant to. On an open range, in an ocean, in a rainforest.
Especially concerning and saddening to me are when animals are made to perform and give shows. Having a monkey or bird ride a bike is obviously not natural and should be unlawful in my opinion. Even whale and dolphin shows where they perform tasks for food which is positive reinforcement (so I am not saying the animals are punished if they do something wrong) just doesn’t sit well with me at all.
On the flip side, I would be interested to know, have these animals that fill a particular zoo or aquarium been rescued? Maybe they truly needed human intervention to heal from an injury that otherwise would have meant death in the wild. That still does not ok the conditions a lot of the animals live in.
So will I take my daughters to the zoo again in the future? I probably will but I most definitely will make them aware that animals belong in the wild and must be treated with respect.