Imagine being born, and living your whole life enclosed in the same four walls, eating the same food everyday, and seeing the same people. Life sentence, or Zoo? These zoo animals are taken from their natural habitats, social structures and forced to spend the rest of their lives in captivity. They are confined to small and constructed environments that don’t provide the same enrichments that their natural habitats would. Zoos claim to provide a safer environment for these animals, claiming that they will live twice as long as that of the same species in the wild. They claim to educate these animals and encourage them to test their abilities to the fullest, but how is one to overlook the small enclosures and stressful conditions? Is this animal cruelty, or does the zoo have the best interest of these animals in mind?
Zoos plea that without captivity many of these animals would be distinct by now, and that with conservation they are being saved. My question is if zoos strive to minimize the extinction of animals, why are they not striving to protect these animals’ natural habitats, when it is humans that are destroying them? Why punish the animals for mistakes that humankind is making? The pollution, rangeland degradation, topsoil erosion, and contamination of crops and groundwater that humans produce and take part in are causing these animals’ natural habitats to become uninhabitable. Regardless of zoos striving to “protect,” these species, the majority of the animals that you see are not injured or endangered species at all. Zoos begin to prioritize the money that could be made by the most popular animals, instead of prioritizing what they harp on, which is saving endangered animals. The zoos begin to worry more about what animals are going to attract the most guests, instead of thinking about which needs the most help.
There are too many animals that live in captivity around the world, of those animals almost all are living in inadequate living conditions for their basic needs. Around 1 million vertebrate animals are living in captivity worldwide, placed in the 10,000 zoos around the globe. Combined, they will see around 600 million visitors annually. Although the main focus is official zoos, this doesn’t even account for the roadside zoo attractions. According to CAPS (Companion Animal Protection Society) about 500 animals in captivity have died in the past four years, which corresponds to about a 12% mortality rate per year. Zoos all over America generate about 24 billion dollars in revenue annually, whereas over 160 million dollars is generated through donations to conservation initiatives. These numbers are not made because they are saving hurt animals, they are made based on the most popular animals being held as a show to people around the world.
To wrap things up, regardless of what zoos may claim to do for the animals that they have in their care and supervision, nothing can overlook the poor living conditions that these animals are forced to live in day after day. The habitats and enclosures that these animals are living in are unacceptable, and something needs to change for the well-being of these species