Who is For The Zoo? I Am… Sometimes

As we’ve all seen from my Instagram (or if you haven’t, check out my instagram here) I am no stranger to the zoo.  My fifth birthday was spent at a zoo where I fell in love with wildlife and since it’s been one of my favorite places to go.  With that said, I’m not in support of every zoo out there. If you follow any sort of media, then you’ve definitely seen people bashing on zoos saying that it’s a place to capture animals and hold them captive for the viewing pleasure.  While this may be true for some places (especially in countries that do not have any sort of legislation for wildlife) there are a lot of zoos that work towards helping wildlife welfare. In today’s article I’m going to touch upon the qualities of zoos that I admire, and why I choose to go to the ones that I go to and support.

First and foremost, I believe that a zoo’s main mission should be helping, rehabilitating and conserving species.  One of the main reasons I support zoos, especially those funded by wildlife organizations such as WWF or WWC, is that their main mission is conservation.  These organizations do not capture animals in order to show them off to the public. Instead, they take in injured or endangered wildlife and run programs in order to rehabilitate them or establish breeding habits that can be maintained in the wild.  The main end goal is rerelease.  The reality of rehabilitation of wildlife is that most of the time these animals can not be rereleased into the wild. The question then arises: should we be rescuing ill animals from the wild or should we leave them there and let nature take its toll?  (What do you think?)

As mentioned before, zoos are a haven for research on breeding in the wild.  With many species (i.e the tiger) there are so few animals in the wild that zoos work with rehabilitated animals to instill mating practices that offspring can then carry into the wild.  The aim of these types of projects (and many other conservation research performed by zoos) is to improve the natural conditions of animals. They do this by ensuring genetic variation by preventing inbreeding.  By creating a population with more variation, they are able to ensure better survival in the wild.  The newborns are then raised in an environment mimicking wild conditions to be released into the wild when they’re old enough.  Zoos also work together in order to maintain the variation in the population.  For more exampls on zoos and breeding you can visit here. 

I think the main problem that people have with zoos are the enclosures and entertainment of the people.  When it comes to enclosures, I actually 100% understand the sentiments against them. You’re containing these wild animals, most of which are pretty large, in a fraction of the environment they’re used to.  And when you think about it like that, you’re 100% right, it’s wrong. However, when you look into most wild animals (like tigers, pandas, etc.) many of them tend to range within a few miles or so. That means, they prefer to stay in what they know and are comfortable with.  In fact, if it weren’t for humans invading a lot of their habitats many animals (that are not migratory by nature) would probably not migrate at all (you know, except the whole king of the jungle thing where they battle for their areas). For me personally, I like zoos that dedicate large areas of land to big enclosures that mimic wild habitats.  This means that these habitats include more than just one species, that way it would be easier to later release animals (after rehabilitation) back into the wild.

In terms of human entertainment, I don’t see this as a problem at all.  I think the entertainment factor helps raise awareness on animals that most people don’t even think about.  Not only that, but I think zoos are especially important for children. The Bronx zoo is what inspired my passion for wildlife and animal medicine.  Plus, it’s raising money that goes to funding the programs these zoos are dedicated for.

No, I can not say that every zoo is good.  In fact, I can almost guarantee that a lot of zoos are no good.  That’s why I always say: before you go anywhere, research their cause. Then make sure that they’re doing what they say they are doing.  Does your local zoo have a twitter? Follow it. See their updates on sick animals, their updates on release, their updates on endangered species.  Then make your opinion. Generalizing is often the problem with these controversial topics.

Anyways, I hope everyone enjoyed today’s post.  And don’t forget to follow me throughout my daily adventures below!

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See you all next week!

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