Picture this; a kid goes with his/her parents to a zoo. The sight of wild animals doing their regular work amazes the kid. Now, the kid scrounges for more, asking the parents to venture inwards. The innocence of the child might paint a different picture of the animals in captivity, but the reality is way too dark. Animal abuse has become prevalent these days; money has blinded people from all walks of life; morality is in shambles now.
What do the statistics say?
Worldwide statistical figures collected over the years have shown some dramatic pictures. This data shows that, as of now, there are 10,000 zoos around the world, many of which haven’t been registered or recognized yet. A large number of smaller enclosures are also working on par with the registered or recognized zoos around the globe.
As far as the animals held captive inside these zoos are concerned, their numbers are nearly a million. And that’s just the vertebrates; other species haven’t accounted for. Animal rights are thrown out of the window for the most part. The zoo industry has proliferated ever since inception. What once was considered as a scientific endeavor has now become a means to earn a ton of money.
It has been estimated that nearly 600 million people visit zoos around the world every year. The irony is that these people do know the price these animals have paid, but won’t consider stopping this malpractice. However, many NGOs and other organizations have questioned the ways with which zoos operate these days.
But zoos have a few points to defend themselves
Despite the abuse faced by animals, most of the zoo authorities put a screen of falsified promises and objectives, too farfetched to be true. The zoo authorities usually come up with such pieces of evidence that aren’t followed in reality. Their reasons for maintaining zoos can be listed down in the following manner.
For scientific research
Zoo authorities claim that their infrastructures enable scientific communities to study and understand the wild animals. Their usage of heavier terms like animal behavior, psychology, etc. creates the right image among the government as well as non-governmental authorities saving their necks in the process. The reality, however, is that little to no scientific studies are conducted inside such places due to the lack of resources and workforce.
Saving the endangered species
It should come as no surprise for the people that the animals held captive in various zoos aren’t healthier themselves. The claims made by the zoo authorities state the fact that they are doing their bit in saving the endangered species by providing them with shelter and nutrition. The converse of this statement happens quite often. Researches on zoo statistics have shown that a lot of these claims are made to garner funds and public support.
The zoo industry has also come up with an explanation that says it is working for spreading knowledge among people. The flip side shows something else, though; in certain countries, zoos are rather a means of entertaining and earning. In China, people buy tickets to see a live cow getting eaten by a hungry lion. And they say they’re spreading education, through bloodsport.
Facing the realities
Zoos worldwide fail to maintain the standards deemed fit for animals. Poor maintenance of enclosures, lack of resources, snatches away the basic instincts from them. A caged bird will not fly no matter how big its wingspan might be. A lot of animals succumb to poor hygienic conditions, lack of food, water, etc. Given below are some key points that should be considered while thinking of zoos and their version of reality.
They damage the psychological makeup of animals
Vertebrates that roam in the wilderness feel pressurized inside enclosures. They are greeted with visitors daily, some of whom aren’t good at all. As mentioned above, predatory birds like falcon and eagle start acting strangely once caged. A similar fate is passed on to land dwellers too.
Their problems aren’t visible until they go insane
A major example to support this point is the number of accidents that happen inside the enclosures. Wild animals belong to the open landscapes; when restricted, they get frustrated. This frustration leads to erratic behavior and attacks. These animals do not see a man, a woman, or a child, once he/she has accidentally slipped into their allotted “space,” they do what they do best, killing. No animal rights activist claims to have stopped this horrific activity.
The world needs to know the plight of these animals. Awareness is what lacks today, and it is a shame that not many organizations have stepped up for the task. What is the use of such institutions when they can’t handle the basic requirements needed by animals for sustenance? Perhaps a wild animal has far greater morals than a social animal in this era.