No Cage Big Enough: Why Zoos Can Never Be Humane

Posted by on January 16, 2013 | Permalink

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.