Why Are These Penguins Taking Antidepressants?

Posted by on February 10, 2014 | Permalink

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.