Challenging Convention: Habitat for Inhumanity

Posted on 26 February 2014 by admin

Writer Billy Gardner argues that zoos should not serve as entertainment

Billy Gardner

Billy Gardner

Staff Writer

Marius, the young giraffe, made news recently when workers at the Copenhagen Zoo shot him in the head and fed him to lions. What was especially bizarre was that the skinning and butchering of the large mammal took place in front of the zoo-goers. Worldwide public outrage has followed after the zoo ignored a petition with thousands of signatures asking that the life of Marius be spared. But, according to Copenhagen Zoo’s scientific director, Bengt Holst, when breeding giraffes “you will inevitably run into so-called surplus problems.” The execution of Marius the giraffe serves as an opportunity to reexamine the larger issue: how humane is it to keep animals in captivity?

There is no doubt that zoos are somewhat educational. People, young and old, have the opportunity to view animals from all the over the world. But, aside from a few basic facts about each species, zoo-goers are not learning much. The educational value is outweighed by the injustices being committed.

Animals at the zoo are kept in tiny, stressful enclosures that fail to mimic their natural environment. The animals have no stimulation and are unable to thrive the way they would in the wild. Some animals, especially birds and aquatic creatures, are nearly immobilized by their confinements. These conditions lead to serious health problems, physical and emotional. Many zoo animals display signs of behavioral problems and stress such as frequent pacing.

Some of the animals kept in captivity are highly intelligent. Orcas and dolphins are believed to have the ability to communicate and are social creatures. These animals are frequently kept in solitary tanks, especially the orcas, and spend their lives in tiny pools performing tricks.

Many people have a fascination with animals and this fascination leads to the obvious demand for zoos. However, a day of entertainment is not worth the mistreatment and inhumane nature of holding animals captive.



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