The unfair treatment of zoo animals is heartbreaking. People capturing wild animals and keeping them in captivity is inhumane and cruel. These animals are used to natural spacious environments, so forcefully taking them from their homes and putting them into secluded cages is harmful to their physical, social, and emotional health. The zoo enclosures offer no natural predator or food sources to hunt, so the animals will lose their instincts that are necessary for survival in the wild. This bounds them for life in captivity at the zoo.
Zoos are still a popular educational resource despite this fact. School teachers enjoy taking their students on field trips to learn about different types of animals. However, these animals are suffering because they are not living in their natural habitats. According to Ettlin, “”A zoo’s paramount purpose is to promote wildlife conservation. A zoo exists to educate. Research happens, recreation happens, but above all is the intent to educate”” (Ettlin). Although, education is very important, the health and safety of wild animals should come first.
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Not to mention, the lack of space is harming these animals. Being confined to cages is causing them to become obese and unhealthy, resulting in physical harm. The Guardian reports, “”Many of the deaths are thought to be linked to obesity, because the animals are well fed but get very little exercise in their small enclosures”” (Sample). The zoo animals becoming so enormously obese that they die is cruel. The Guardian also reports, “”Food and Rural Affairs, examined the welfare of 77 elephants in 13 UK zoos and found that the animals spent 83% of their time indoors and 71 were overweight. Only 11 were able to walk normally”” (Sample). Animals need to move about in their natural habitat where they can not only run, jump, or climb, but also, smell their surroundings to keep their minds active. When kept in the same enclosure with nowhere to go, the animals run out of smells and become bored, lonely, and depressed. This is not where they belong.
In addition, the social consequences of removing animals from their natural habitats is disturbing. Many animals live in packs and thrive when they are together, so when the animals are removed from their families and transferred to other zoos, they are often bullied by unfamiliar animals in this new environment. Science Correspondent Ian Sample stated, “”The animals suffer most after being transferred between zoos and being separated from their mothers”” (Sample). Animals that are taken from their pack have the potential to attack other animals or even humans. KQED education stated, “”Animals are often bored and, as a result, some become aggressive and can lash out at other animals or zookeepers”” (Buscher). This is a lose-lose situation for both animals and humans, which is why wild animals should not be held in captivity. Not to mention, author Iman Karam reported, “”With the sudden deaths of a few animals in the Egyptian Giza Zoo (GZ), the debate was launched about zoo management and the limited resources available”” (Karam). The zoos are not financially equipped to take care of the animals they wrongfully capture.
Also, capturing wild animals has a negative effect on them psychologically. According to One Green Plant, zoo animals are known to pace as a result of poor living conditions. The animals that reportedly cause harm to themselves are stressed and anxious due to the lack of similar types of species around them (Lamont). When animals are held in cages they are being isolated from their own kind just for the amusement of humans. Being in isolation will cause animals to become depressed, and this may potentially cause them to die sooner. The Blade science writer states, “”In the last decade, zoos across the nation have turned to antidepressants, tranquilizers, and even antipsychotic drugs such as haloperidol, sold as Haldol, to ease behavioral problems in zoo denizens”” (Laidman). Animals taking antidepressant drugs such as Prozac and Zoloft demonstrates that these animals are not well-adjusted in these environments.
In conclusion, even though zoos have good intentions, they are doing more harm than good. Disturbing the natural progression of the animal kingdom is ultimately damaging to animals. First, the animals are suffering physically from the lack of space needed to exercise. Second, their social behaviors are inadvertently changing and eventually can become too dangerous to control. Lastly, the psychological effect of being mistreated and isolated is slowly killing them. Most animals in captivity have their lifespan cut in half. So, it is best to learn about animals from afar and allow them to enjoy their lives in their natural habitats.