Big Fuss: Why We Shouldn’t Go To Zoos

Animals Can Rebel Too

Zoos vary in size, type of animal housing and quality. Many of them are facing cuts in investment — in 2003, the Wall Street Journal published research showing that funding for zoos has declined by 3% annually — and the situation has not changed even after years. Here, the remaining money is distributed between spending on cosmetic improvements, landscaping, opening eateries and souvenir shops to attract visitors. Animals have to pay for this, and sometimes the guests themselves — animals, like people, are prone to rebellion if their living conditions become especially dangerous.

In 2007, a Siberian tigress named Tatyana escaped from a poor-quality enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo. She killed one person and injured two, after which the guards shot her. Gorilla Jabari tried to get out of the Dallas park, jumping over walls, ditches and dodging electric shocks — and died of the protective measures of the police. After the incident, witnesses were found who reported that such behavior of the monkey could be provoked by bullying from the guests.

Learning That Leads to Tragedy

The management of zoos notes they provide guests with the opportunity to get acquainted with representatives of wildlife and become enlightened. However, most visitors spend time not on finding out unknown facts, but on entertainment: according to the study of attendance at the London Zoo, experts found out that children learned nothing about animals or environmental protection. At work with 2,800 guests, it was found that 62% of them were not just not aware of the life of wild animals — they showed what the researchers called a “negative learning outcome”: the children were asked if they could contribute to the conservation of animals — they noted uncertainty.

Liz Tyson, Director at Captive Animals Protection Society, explains this way:

Zoos give a false idea of the animals themselves and the real problems they face in their natural habitat. Research confirms what we’ve been talking about for years. Zoos do not educate children, do not give them opportunities to protect animals, or even encourage them to adopt a conservative view.

Also, a study by Oxford University, based on nearly 40 years of observation of captive and wild animals, found that captive animals feel much more uncomfortable — even if their initial conditions in the wild were worse. A study of the life of 4,500 elephants in their natural habitat and in zoos has shown that the average lifespan of an African elephant in a classic zoo is 16 years, in a nature reserve — 56 years. Animals getting into captivity significantly impairs their viability.

How To Stop It?

According to Tyson, one way is not to visit zoos: most of the income generated from ticket sales is spent not on improving the lives of the inhabitants, but on advertising or creating an environment for visitors. It should be borne in mind that with a decrease in income, spending on animals will become even lower — which means it is necessary to attend to new conditions for the life of animals — for example, the creation of reserves where you can be a volunteer.

There are many ways to learn about wildlife without holding the animals captive. We would like to encourage schools and parents around the world to strive for more inspiring and educational activities for children.

— says the researcher.

Experts believe that visiting zones where animals live in conditions close to nature will have a positive effect on both the animals and you: the pets will not be injured, and you will learn a lot about them. It is unnecessary to give preference to shelters where only wild animals are kept — any animals need to be supported. In every city, there is at least one organization that takes care of pets abandoned by their previous owners — they always need medicines, food or helpers.