No Cage Big Enough: Why Zoos Can Never Be Humane

Posted by 4 years ago | Permalink | Comments (37)

Zoos all over the UK have been counting their “stock” in recent weeks, but to unhappy animals forced to spend their lives in captivity, this audit is more like a prisoner roll call.

Animals in zoos are denied the opportunity to fulfil even their most basic instincts. Every single decision, including when to eat, what to eat, who to mate with, and when to sleep, is made for them. Some are forced to perform tricks day after day, while others are kept in enclosures far too small for them. Stories abound of animals’ fear and mistrust of zookeepers, such as the gorilla at Twycross Zoo who refuses to let humans near her newborn baby. “Surplus” animals are routinely killed. And no matter how they’re treated, all animals in zoos are forced to spend their lives as living exhibits.

Zoos would have you believe that they are all that stands between the animals and extinction for many of the species they house, but animals are almost never released back into the wild, and these massively expensive breeding programmes divert money from genuine conservation projects which could protect animals in their natural habitats – after all, what’s the point is breeding animals if they have no home left to go to?

The education argument doesn’t cut it either. Seeing bored, depressed and often mad animals pacing, swaying or circling constantly teaches children nothing about real animal behaviour – we certainly wouldn’t take our children to prison to teach them about human behaviour. They can learn far more valuable and inspiring lessons by watching nature documentaries that show wild animals where they belong.

Take action to help stop the suffering of caged animals by avoiding zoos and speaking out for lonely, trapped animals like Mali, the Philippines’ last captive elephant.


  • Fred Nye commented on January 16, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Time for zoo fans to take a long hard look at themselves.

    • elaina brandon commented on October 14, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      i really really want to be vegan but my parents won’t let me and i hate myself for it

  • Harriet Austen commented on January 16, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Zoos are cruel and disgusting. Especially the bristol zoo. Hardly any room for the big cats and seals. Longleat safari park (not zoo) is the only place that iv seen where animals actually have acres upon acres of land to graze on. Thanks to PETA for all the awareness they raise. X

  • Sue Taylor commented on January 16, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    You only have to look at how sad animals in zoos are to see that this barbaric age old practise of keeping animals in cages for humans to look at needs to be stopped now!!!

  • Avelina Pereira commented on January 16, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Animals should exist only in wild life, in their natural environement, not in cages to peoples pleasure.

  • TULA JONES commented on January 16, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Zoos are disgusting. Why import animals here from their natural environment. You can see pictures of them on TV, in books and on the internet. I found zoos boring and gruesome even as a child. I find them abominable now.

  • TULA JONES commented on January 16, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    It is pityful to put animals in captivity for life, just for the whim of humans, and for extortionists to make money.

  • Brien Comerford commented on January 17, 2013 at 12:53 am

    Some humane and compassionate zoos are needed to provide safety and refuge for the world’s most direly endagered species on earth that are no longer able to live in their violent homelands wherein they are being poached and massacred to to the verge of extinction.

    • Julie Wilson commented on February 8, 2013 at 11:34 pm

      No, as pointed out in the article, there is no such thing as a humane zoo. It is better to let them go extinct because there is no point in trying to preserve them when they are never going to released back into the wild anyway.

      • chris commented on April 14, 2015 at 8:15 pm


    • katie mulholland commented on April 1, 2013 at 10:17 am

      Julie wilson, your comment is just rediculous. What is your opinion on animals who are too ill/disabled to survive in the wild? Would you just release them to.die too or would you offer them a safe and secure environment to live in? True it may not be a perfect wild existance but it is preferable to a slow death out in the wild when.they are incapable of getting food for themselves or get rejected by their pack/herd/troop as they cant keep up. Flip it round and imagine it was humans you were talking about… Its like saying we shouldnt have retirement homes/special needs homes/long term hospital wards as whts the point, the people in those places arent having a fullfilling and free life so we may aswell dump them on the street as its better for them to.die being a free person than kept safe and healthy in an enclosed envkronment…

      • Alec commented on November 15, 2015 at 9:58 pm

        Katie Mulholland, your comment has a few points but is mostly irrational. You say sick and ill animals should be taken care of , but if they get sick or ill in the wild its just the circle of life right? And even of you did help a needy animal that is disrupting their whole system of living. Take gorillas for instance, they live in packs and are lead by male leaders. Even if sick, when their leaders are taken away, they have no one to lead them and then they fight over the new leaders. It would be better if there were no zoos at all and people let nature be nature.

  • ANNA MAIETTA commented on January 17, 2013 at 8:09 am

    stop it ban it now

  • karin behle commented on January 18, 2013 at 12:41 am

    zoo`s are prisons!!!

  • karin behle commented on January 18, 2013 at 12:42 am

    zoo`s are prisons

  • Susan Pateracki commented on January 18, 2013 at 1:26 am

    Don’t you people even see that you are making these animals miserable.? People today are the coldest most uncaring people in my life. Stop what you are doing and learn to warm your heart up as long as you have a chance to

  • Costanza Marri commented on January 18, 2013 at 5:23 am

    Basta animali al circo e allo zoo!!!! Tutte le creature hanno il diritto di essere libere!!!! Maledetto uomoooooooo!!! La vera bestia sei tu!!!!!

    • Chris commented on April 13, 2015 at 10:10 pm

      L()()k–> LET THE ANIMALS BE FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • pauline aldred commented on January 18, 2013 at 10:37 am

    I know there saver there than being hunted for there tusks, but surely they should be in there own natural enviroment, and FREE,

  • Jes H commented on January 18, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    I volunteer at a seal sanctuary, we save the lives and release 40-60 pups each winter. It used to be a grass roots organisation but today is owned by Merlin. We have seals there that cannot be released into the wild for health reasons and also other species from other zoos. Without the other seals there would be no sanctuary and the pups would just be dieing. The other animals we have are often unwanted by zoos or other locations so we offer them a retirement home where they are not expected to perform or do tricks. I am against unessacary captivity and breeding without direct conservation roles but on the flip side if an animal cannot survive in the wild surely it is better to offer it a home than release or euthanase???

  • carla lopez commented on January 19, 2013 at 1:08 am

    nadie tiene derecho a esclavizar, a violar sus derechos de cualquier animal, para que sea la distracción de las personas, son seres con sentimientos y derechos

  • rocio arestegui commented on January 19, 2013 at 5:13 am

    no quiero mas circos, son carceles para inocentes, lucro para inutiles, ya no!!!!

  • Håkan Esbjörs commented on January 24, 2013 at 8:32 am

    Wild hearts run free

  • Kiteman commented on February 2, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    I am disappointed in this article.

    PETA present themselves as an authority on animal welfare, yet fail at the most basic levels of evidence.

    For instance, all zoos are painted as thoughtless murderers of “excess” animals, based on a single article, published two years ago, in a notoriously unreliable tabloid.

    And the claims that zoos do nothing for conservation, and even prevent funds getting to conservation projects (potentially seriously damaging claims, defamatory to the point of libel) are not even supported by hearsay, let alone the slim evidence required before such claim go into physical print.

    All in all, if PETA wish to possess the credibility to which they pretend, propaganda articles like this are going to have to be a lot better in future, otherwise you will have to resign yourselves to remaining on the wacko fringe that fills slow news days.


    Oh, and before the flames start, let me state for the record that I have no links, financial or otherwise, with any zoo or animal-related attractions. My only interest here is to promote evidence-based policy-making over emotional knee-jerks.

    • Julie Wilson commented on February 8, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      PETA is an animal rights organisation, not an animal welfare organisation (if you know the difference). Also, they are FAR from being on the wacko fringe that fills slow news days!

  • Jessica Wilson commented on March 22, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Give your money to conservation in the wild not zoos!

  • Elaine thonas commented on March 22, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Theres good and bad in this for instance colchester zoo is specially for endangered animals and is a good cause, monkey world is rescued animals. I think its the zoos abroad that are the pits they treat there animals like shit and there shouldnt be zoos abroad im so against animal cruelty

  • katie mulholland commented on April 1, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Peta I dont really understand why you have used the example of the gorilla not letting humans near her baby as a reason for zoos/conservation centres being bad…

    As someone who has worked in a rehabilitation centre for primates there is nothing better than seeing a mother being protective over her young when it comes to humans. At the end of the day if that gorilla were ever to be released into the wild it would be a horiffic shame if shewere to come across poachers and just ‘let’ them take her baby as she felt ‘safe’ around humans.

    I dont think it should reflect babdy on the zoo when.the animals still show a natural instinct to defend their territory/offspring from humans. If anything it shows that the zoo is doing something very very right!

  • Maggie Cranfield commented on October 2, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    they were all free before Man…let them be again…just kill the poachers first.

  • Anne Clark commented on October 2, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    While i agree that zoos are not ideal and some are bad, i believe they play an important role. Howletts and Port Lympne wild animal parks have a hugely successful breeding troop of lowland gorillas and a sanctuary in the congo where groups have been reintroduced and are doing well in the wild. It is man that has led to their endangered state, surely it is up to us to try and redress the balance? Before slating all zoos look to the people that wear fur and buy ivory or rhino horn.

  • hasah commented on December 10, 2014 at 9:38 am

    zoos are prisons

  • chris commented on April 13, 2015 at 10:12 pm


  • natasha commented on September 7, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Monkey world do release many of the young primates back into the wild as is their aim. They encourage all the natural behaviours in their animals constantly thinking up ways in which they can do so with animals that have been saved from the pet trade.
    The lengths that cronin goes to in order to do this is amazing!!
    Their aim is to rehabilitate so they can return endangered species back into the wild. The fact that the young born there are all suitable canditates for re-release because they all display the nnatural skills and behaviours needed in order to be released into the wild is testament to what they are doing!! They call there primates individuals and each is intigrated into a group which accepts them whatever rank they end up in within that group. They dont just feed them, they use enrichment feeding whereby they out food out in ways which alliws primates to have to do what they would in to gain it.
    They do fantastic work with an aim to encourage as natural envirinment and behaviour as can pissibly be done with an aim to rescue, rehabilitate, protect and/or re-release animals taken from the wild and put into zoos/pet trade.
    Also the 2 elephant orohanages in the wildlife sanctuarys in africa do the same with traumatised elephants.nearly every single one eventually returns to its environment as a wild elephant either lone (males) or part of e group ( females) after they have been saved from death. The fact that this works even after years of being with them means the animalss are learning all the skills they would in the wild and they survive. Not all rescue programmes are wrong.
    Thats what I have seen. These animals end up free wild and happy.

  • tasha commented on September 7, 2016 at 9:46 am

    The fact is its all part of the same problem. PETA deal with preventing abuse/exploitation and rehabilitation centres deal with the aftermath of it. They are 2 ends of the exact same problem and would do better to find common ground in order to stop it. Thats hiw i see it anyway.

  • Thayananda commented on October 20, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    GD GOD!!!!!!!!!!!

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