Why Are These Penguins Taking Antidepressants?

Posted by 3 years ago | Permalink | Comments (7)

depressed penguins

Image: “Penguins at Scarborough Sea Life Centre” by petercooperuk / CC BY-SA 2.0

Short answer: Because they’re being kept in captivity in a zoo, thousands of miles from where they belong.

It was reported this week that the Humboldt penguins at Scarborough Sea Life Sanctuary have been prescribed antidepressants because they’re so unhappy.

Staff at the centre admitted that the penguins are not adapted to the rainy British climate, which is drastically different from their natural environment on the coast of South America. As a result, the birds are visibly suffering. “After the first week out [the] birds were just a bit subdued, but after over a month now, they are thoroughly fed-up and miserable”, a staff member said.

We can quite understand their unhappiness. Animals in zoos are denied the opportunity to fulfil even their most basic instincts and desires and to enjoy any semblance of a natural habitat. At the end of the day, the paying public can go home, but zoo animals are stuck as living exhibits and crowd-pulling attractions until the day that they die in captivity.

In fact, depression and stress-related behaviour are so common in captive animals of all species that there’s even a special name for it: “zoochosis”. These penguins don’t need antidepressants to cheer them up – they need their freedom.

You can help animals like Scarborough’s dejected penguins by refusing to support the industry that condemns them to a lifetime behind bars. Please stay away from zoos and marine parks, and encourage your family and friends to do the same.


  • Bonita Alice commented on February 10, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Incarceration is for criminals. Those penguins are innocent and deserve to be given the living conditions they need for a good life.

  • Brian Daniels commented on February 10, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    When you consider the side effects of antidepressants, it should be a matter for the RSPCA. It’s a disgrace that penguins should be subjected to this kind of chemical battering.

  • Kath Newton commented on February 12, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    I think this article completely misses the point and purpose of zoos and animal sanctuary’s. To me at least, it is quite clear this article has been written with a wholey uneducated view of zoos. Zoos primarily exist for the conservation and scientific study of animal species. Take the panda for example; the conservation efforts being made for this specie is outstanding and would be impossible without zoos. Funding for such projects is supported by the public visiting such places and it follows then without the public support and their visits species such as the panda will die out. Perhaps the conditions for these penguins are not perfection but rest assured they will be being taken care of to the best of anyone’s ability. I’m not sure what you are proposing? Would you prefer they were put down? Because it is probably a far humane option than to set them free into the wild were they will certainly die of starvation as they were born in captivity and have no idea how to hunt or survive in the wild.

  • Angela Sklyar commented on February 16, 2014 at 5:25 am

    Give animals freedom, don’t breed, don’t keep them captured !!!

  • Fred commented on February 16, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    A great example of miscommunication being blown into a scandal. These penguins were placed on precautionary antifungals as they were getting stressed about the high winds. There are high winds every year. These penguins have been laying eggs every year and rearing young – not the action of depressed penguins. To anyone who knows anything about captive breeding programs this article looks incredibly ignorant. Also, release the captive bred penguins?! Only if you want them to die..

  • Tj commented on February 27, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    “Uneducated”, ” miscommunication”, statements by those who “have missed the point, all animals, including the human ones, are born with the right to exist in their natural environment. The human animal is naturally destructive and having destroyed the natural balance of other species, feel they have the right to incarcerate those who are threatened with extinction as a result of human actions.Your explanation being to preserve the species (whilst living in total misery), for the entertainment and satisfaction of humans who lack the ability to see the error of their ways and the wisdom to understand other species. Zoos are profit making businesses who cull healthy animals considered to be surplus to requirement, what has that got to do with conservation?

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