Oxford Dictionary definition: zoological garden: public garden or park with collection of animals for exhibition and study.
Our definition: Place where wild animals are kept and/or bred in captivity. Zoos are prisons. Prisons in which innocent individuals are kept incarcerated for their whole lives, though they have committed no crime.
Elephants, for example, in the wild, are used to travelling many miles a day in herds of about ten related adults and their offspring. They are very social animals.
In zoos, elephants are usually kept in pairs or even isolated. Their enclosures are incredibly small, compared to what they are used to in the wild, and as a result they often show many signs of being stressed out or bored, like engaging in repetitive movements. Stress behaviours can include repetitive movements, pacing back and forth, head bobbing, rocking, repeatedly retracing their steps, sitting motionless or biting the bars of their enclosure or themselves.
What makes life so difficult for zoo animals is that they hardly have any privacy and lack mental stimulation and physical exercise. Even though you might think that zoo animals would get used to a life in captivity, they really don’t. Even animals that are bred in zoos still retain their natural instincts after many generations of captive breeding.
Animals like polar bears or felines are used to hunting; this habit is replaced by the zoo with regular feedings. Most animals kept in zoos would naturally roam for tens of miles a day.
Zoos claim to help with conservation. However, hardly any zoo registers their animals on an international species database and most zoo animals are not endangered at all.
Even though there are thousands of endangered species, zoos have only been able to return about 16 species to the wild with varying level of success. Most zoo animals released in the wild don’t survive. This is because zoos don’t provide the right environment for a successful captive breeding project. The animals would need to live in habitats resembling their natural ones, especially in terms of climate and fauna. The animals would also need to be raised with minimal human contact and in populations large enough to provide a natural social balance and a suitable gene pool.
Surplus animals are the unwanted animals for whom there is no more space, when zoos have bred yet another cute little baby to attract visitors. They can even be the cute babies themselves when they’ve stopped being cute at the end of the season. Zoos have a systematic “overproduction” of animals. These surplus animals are either killed – and sometimes fed to their fellow zoo habitants – or sold to other zoos or dealers. Selling animals is a profitable way for zoos to dispose of them. Dealers will sell them to hunting ranches, pet shops, circuses, the exotic meat industry and research facilities. Surplus animals are also found for sale on the internet.
To sum up: DON’T GO TO THE ZOO! If a school trip is being organised, tell your teacher why you don’t like zoos and ask them to take you somewhere better. If they won’t listen, explain what zoos really are to your friends and then get together to petition the school. If they still won’t listen, just ask your parents to let you stay home from school that day. Maybe they could take you on a better trip instead, such as to a museum or art gallery.
Oxford Dictionary definition: Largest living land animal with trunk and ivory tusks.
Our definition: Elephants are large mammals of the family Elephantidae and the order Proboscidea. Two species are traditionally recognised: the African elephant and the Asian elephant. Male African elephants are the largest surviving terrestrial [land] animals and can reach a height of 4 metres and weigh 7,000 kg. All elephants have a long trunk, used for many purposes, particularly breathing, lifting water and grasping objects. All African elephants, male and female, have tusks whereas only some Asian males have tusks. About 50% of Asian females have short tusks known as tushes – which have no pulp inside. Usually in mammals tusks are enlarged canine teeth, but in elephants they are actually elongated incisors and are essentially no different from other teeth. One third of the tusk is actually hidden from view, embedded deep in the elephant’s head. This part of the tusk is a pulp cavity made up of tissue, blood and nerves. The visible, ivory part of the tusk is made of dentine with an outer layer of enamel. Their tusks can serve as weapons and as tools for moving objects and digging. Elephants’ large ear flaps help to control their body temperature. African elephants have larger ears and concave backs while Asian elephants have smaller ears and convex or level backs.
Elephants are herbivorous and can be found in different habitats including savannahs, forests, deserts and marshes. They prefer to stay near water. Females, known as cows, tend to live in family groups, which can consist of one female with her calves or several related females with offspring. The groups are led by an individual known as the matriarch, often the oldest cow. Elephants have a fission-fusion society in which multiple family groups come together to socialise. Males, known as bulls, leave their family groups when they reach puberty, and may live alone or with other males. Adult bulls mostly interact with family groups when looking for a mate. Calves are the centre of attention in their family groups and rely on their mothers for as long as three years. Elephants can live up to 70 years in the wild. They communicate by touch, sight, smell and sound; elephants use infrasound (low frequency sound), and seismic communication (sometimes called vibrational communication) over long distances. Elephant intelligence has been compared with that of primates and cetaceans. They have self-awareness and show empathy for dying or dead individuals of their kind.
African elephants are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, while the Asian elephant is classed as endangered. One of the biggest threats to elephant populations is the ivory trade, as the animals are poached for their ivory tusks. Other threats to wild elephants include habitat destruction and conflicts with local people.
Horribly, in addition to murdering them for their ivory, human beings have exploited elephants for entertainment in zoos and circuses for centuries; and now the military thinks they might be useful for sniffing out bombs!
Thank goodness for The Elephant Sanctuary, Tennessee, a natural habitat refuge developed specifically for African and Asian elephants, which is home to beautiful animals, rescued or retired from zoos and circuses, who can now live out their lives in a safe haven dedicated to their well-being.
Sandra has achieved the unprecedented legal status of a “non-human person.” A court has recognized that she has rights and that being kept in a zoo unlawfully deprives her of her freedom.
Woo hoo!!!! 😀 😀 😀
In November, the Association of Professional Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) filed for habeas corpus, a petition usually used to challenge the imprisonment of a human who has been illegally detained. Instead, this petition sought freedom for Sandra, a Sumatran orangutan. Sandra has spent the last 20 years of her life at the Buenos Aires Zoo. In 1986, she was born into captivity at a German zoo. Nine years later she was sent to Argentina. Sandra is described as very shy, with a marked preference for avoiding the stares of zoo visitors. AFADA’s case asserted “the unjustified confinement of an animal with probable cognitive capability” illegally deprived a “non-human person” of her freedom. AFADA insisted Sandra was a person in a philosophic sense, rather than a biological one. In other words, she’s not human, but she deserves certain equivalent rights. A three-member panel of Argentina’s Second Chamber of the Criminal Appeals Court unanimously granted habeas corpus, deciding that Sandra is a “juridical person” rather than an object.
Congratulations Sandra and well done Argentina!
Let us hope that this decision is upheld and that it will lead to a more enlightened attitude worldwide resulting in person-hood rights being granted to all captive animals.
We’ve just watched the fantastic documentary Blackfish and had to recommend it to everyone! The film is shocking, moving and heart-breaking but don’t be afraid to watch it because it leaves you with a positive feeling. A feeling that things are changing. That people are waking up to the truth that keeping animals in captivity is simply wrong. That the lies of big companies like SeaWorld are being seen through. Since they are dependent on being able to dupe the public into believing that their performing animals are happy in order to sell tickets, that means time is running out for them.
We are full of admiration for the people who made this film and for the many former SeaWorld trainers who spoke frankly about their own experiences there and the dishonesty of the company they worked for which of course puts money ahead of the welfare of their whales and their trainers.
Please watch this film and share it far and wide. Knowledge is power and the more people have this knowledge, the more power we’ll have collectively to close these types of places. SeaWorld needs bums on seats. Let’s persuade all bums to sit elsewhere!