Should Animals be Kept in Zoos and Aquariums?
For years animals have been kept in zoos and aquariums for the sole purpose of entertainment. These animals have no choice when it comes to deciding weather they are kept in captivity or not. This is because when it comes to animal welfare in the United States there is no laws in place to protect them. The only thing close to it the animal welfare act “”which requires a minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for certain animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public”” (“”Animal Welfare Act””). Since there is nothing to really help these helpless animals when it comes to being put in captivity, they suffer mental illness and are not provided with insufficient space. Also, Zoos are not in favor of the animal nor the visitors.
Animals suffer mental illness just like humans do. But the only difference is that when it comes to animals’ humans can be the cause of it. When animals are kept in enclosures either at the zoo and aquarium, they can suffer mental illness and “”It happens so much, it’s got a name: “”zoochosis”” (Scharfenberg). Zoochosis is a repetitive, invariant behavior pattern with no obvious goal or function. There has been a countless number of incidents recorded. For instance, at Central Park Zoo there was a case of zoochosis on a polar bear named Gus, “”He’d dive into his pool, slither across the bottom, surge to the surface, and backstroke to the other side. Then, he’d tuck his head into the water and do it again. And again. And again. Twelve hours a day”” (Scharfenberg). There were efforts done to help Gus which included making him forage for meals, pulling chicken from a rawhide wrapper and coaxing a frozen mackerel out of a block of ice. And he also got a redesigned habitat, The New York Times reported, and in time, his compulsive swimming tailed off. Gus seemed happier and more like himself. “”But even at the end of his life, there were days when the polar bear would inexplicably plunge into the water in a riot of bubbles, surge across the pool, turn back, and do it again. And again.”” (Scharfenberg). Another example of behavioral changes was done in an experiment by Lucky P. Birket, she observed behavior of Captive Chimpanzees. She observed 40 Chimpanzees and as a result all 40 chimpanzees showed some abnormal behavior which included eating feces, pat genitals, regurgitate, and fumble nipple. Which is abnormal behavior for chimpanzees. But while in zoos according to Birekt “”living chimpanzees have little opportunity to adjust association patterns, occupy restricted and barren spaces compared to the natural habitat, and have large parts of their lives substantially managed by humans””. So, these animals don’t have the freedom as they would in the wild and suffer because of it. Which isn’t fair to these animals since they can’t do anything about it which is exactly why Animals deserve rights and moral standing.
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In the wild animals have miles of land that they can live on. But once captured and placed in captivity and those miles turn into a small enclosed space. According to DeGrazia “”when they are able to do what they want, they typically experience pleasure or satisfaction; when they are unable to do what they want, they typically experience frustration or other disagreeable feelings”” (57). While being in such a small enclosure of course they are not able to do what they want. Which contributes to zoochosis as well. Zoos and aquariums are not able to provide enough space for these animals to live comfortably. For example, Cohn mentions that Nikia Fico states, “”Elephants need to be in constant motion, they walk up to 50 miles a day and when they don’t move, that’s when they have physical problems”” (“”The Tug of War””).