Zoos: prison or paradise?
No matter what arguments I hear to the contrary, and I have heard them all, a zoo is a prison for animals. The same goes for a circus. But let me focus on the idea of the zoo here. Quite a few zoologists have made very convincing arguments supporting the existence of zoos when I have struck up a conversation with them. For the most part, these professionals are deeply concerned about the welfare of the animals. Logically, anyone who has spent a significant portion of his life studying and caring for animals has got the best interest of his charges at heart.
However, I cannot ignore the sad and hopeless body language of a large cat pacing back and forth in a fenced in area. Recently, I was at a zoo in another German city, and I simply could not ignore the look of depression and futility on the face of one of the Bengal tigers. The black panther a few cages down paced endlessly back and forth, and I could not escape the feeling that this glorious and powerful wild animal was slowly going mad.
There were eagles in a pen that was not much bigger than my doctor's waiting room. Here is a wild animal sentenced to a lifetime of grubby-handed little children walking by and gawking at him. If we spent nearly as much time and money on conservation rather than locking these beasts of nature up, I would be a much happier human being.
Healthy, well-run zoos are an important part of any culture and contribute a wealth of knowledge to the visitors who frequent them. It will be only a few more years before there are no tigers left in the wild, so how else can we observe these magnificent beasts? Many rhinos in the wild have had their horns cut off by those who protect them to make them less attractive to poachers, elephants are often left to die a painful death after having their tusks taken.
The animals in good zoos have a longer life-expectancy than those in the wild. Free health care, room and board and a chance to live with their own in a stress-free environment are just a few of the reasons for this. Hunting prey on the Serengeti is not an easy task. It is very dangerous and can be a hit or miss proposition.
In today's modern world, the chance for multiple generations to do something that everyone can enjoy seems to be dwindling. No matter how young or old you may be, zoos are a great place for the whole family to learn about animals in our world, and enjoy a day together. And anyone will tell you, the look in a little child eyes when they see exactly how big an elephant is, is, well, priceless. And perhaps that young person will be motivated to be more active in the protection of that animal in the wild. Animals in zoos help ensure their survival in the wild.