Do we Really Need Zoos?

A Zoo is a place where many wonderful animals, reptiles and birds are caught and caged for life. Period.

Just by giving it fancy sounding tag-lines like, ‘Animal research center’, ‘Animal conservation center’, etc. we cannot change the basic premise and the reason behind having zoos. Which is – basal human entertainment and sadism.

What fun do human beings get by going and watching caged animals and birds, is something I am not able to fathom. Every major city has a zoo – Such is the public demand! One zoo here gets so much crowd that beaches, historical monuments, etc. wear a haunted look, in comparison.

If probed further, many people will reply, ‘I care about the wildlife – What a better way to show my support?’. So, you are a naturalist? You are supporting an institution that catches animals from the rightful place they belong to and puts them in a cage (which in itself is life-long torture), prevents them from fetching their own food (imagine the plight of the young animals born there – will they ever be able to hunt/gather food if left in the wild?), mistreats/badly feeds animals and is focused on maximizing tourist revenue?

There are others who want to indulge in nature photography. Where? In a zoo! They put their camera in between bars/cages and try to take authentic ‘natural’ photos of animals. Nothing could be more challenging, right? In fact, you’re perfectly qualified to teach this technique to all those people who roam in the wild for days to get one photo. They will be out of words to thank you for saving so much of their time.

Another popular reason to go to a zoo is, ‘Our kids need to see wildlife and become familiar with it. It is educational’. Tell me you cannot afford a TV and you don’t get subscriptions to NGC or Discovery channels at your place. Have you even seen those wonderful/thoughtful documentaries produced by these channels? What more wildlife exposure would kids want?

Just think for a second how you will feel if you are caged like that and all animals come visit you and mock/laugh at you? How can visiting a zoo be anything else but sheer sadism – The pleasure of watching animals caged by ‘superior’ human beings, the pleasure of knowing that they can render every other creature helpless?

There are some zoos that offer ‘safari’ experience. I know one that keeps lions caged and at a certain time, releases them into a closed open-enclosure so that people can come in bullet-proof vehicles and have a glimpse of it in the WILD. One caged lion in that zoo was shouting non-stop and a tiger (in a slightly larger ‘natural’ enclosure) was walking impatiently, trying to move away from staring humans, but unable to do so. This, after the court banned the public viewing of endangered species.

But then, what else can we expect from human beings, who poach animals for fashion; who cage birds/fishes at home for decoration; who tame animals for their utility; who have fun with family in a circus (fortunately these are not there now) and destroy forests for their comforts? Visiting zoos for sadistic pleasure seems to be one of our smaller vices – maybe we can even be proud of it?

And say, ‘Oh Honey, look at those lovely polar bears and pandas. How cute they are – I feel like cuddling them’. I wish such people just cross over to the other side of the cage and try it.

Hail Human Hypocrisy! Long Live Our Sadism!

Destination Infinity

PS: Can anybody give me one good reason to create/visit a zoo?

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38 Replies to “Do we Really Need Zoos?”

  1. Good article. If a human is locked inside a room even for a day with no entertainment but only food…. it lead him to frustration. but what happens with these animals?!! In abroad atleast they get a good care but here…..

    1. What does ‘good care’ mean? Timely good food, medicines, etc? The animals get ‘good care’ in exchange for what – being locked up inside the cage 24 x 7? If you were given the option of staying in a foreign prison with ‘good care’, would you take it?

      Destination Infinity

  2. Interesting post. But I beg to differ with you. Personally, I go to the zoo to take the kids there. They can see and feel the animals, reptiles, and birds and enjoy and become a little bit knowledgeable.

    You wrote: Tell me you cannot afford a TV and you don’t get subscriptions to NGC or Discovery channels at your place. Yes we do. But it is not like seeing and feeling in person.

    If I buy your logic, tomorrow if someone is hungry you will tell him to watch a cooking show in TV.

    1. So, our kids have a need to ‘see’ and ‘feel’ the animals and hence animals should be caged 24×7. Why don’t you take them to a rural area/outskirts of a forest so that they can see the real thing – exactly how nature meant it to be? There are hundred ways for kids to ‘enjoy’ and locking-up animals/birds just for this, in my opinion, is silly. I don’t know what they cannot learn in NGC/Discovery, that they can learn in a zoo.

      Destination Infinity

  3. I do not like to see animals in small cages. It is cruel. I prefer game reserves and there are also some zoos which have large areas for the animals to roam. Even that is hard for the animals but it is a better option than tiny cages. Best is a game reserve ofcourse.

    1. Best is NO HUMAN INTERVENTION. There is a study that says, tiger/lion population actually decreased after setting up of national-parks to conserve them! Such are the ways of ‘intelligent’ and ‘resourceful’ humans.

      Secondly, animals should gather their own food in their natural surroundings, and there is plenty of food available in nature. By locking them up, we are stunting their ability to gather food/live in the wild and hence increasing their dependency on us. We are some kind of Gods or something?

      Destination Infinity

  4. I like to go to ‘well managed’ zoos. I don’t like to watch animals in small cages. I don’t tolerate people throwing pop corns and biscuits to them, so two barricades should be there. We are cruel people. But I like to show happy animals to the kids. The animals should be roaming and playing with their families. Then it is fun to watch. Otherwise a big ‘no’! Watching in TV also is entertaining and knowledgeable, but seeing in person is different. But the animals should be fed well and should have large areas to roam around.

    1. ‘Happy animals’ – Yeah, that’s what they will be when they are locked up in cages 24×7 and are totally helpless!

      ‘Large areas to roam around’ – Would you go to a prison that has large areas to roam around, instead of the small cells that we have now? Why should you want animals to do it, especially for no fault of theirs?

      Destination Infinity

  5. Your post set me thinking.All said the animals and birds are caged for human pleasure within narrow confines constantly harassed if not harmed by onlookers.A good post

    1. Animals also have a brain/mind, they also undergo psychological trauma. In the case of a zoo, visitors are a major source of this trauma. A simple fact that no one is interested to accept.

      Destination Infinity

  6. By just seeing animals alone we won’t learn anything, rather watching closely toward their habitat (which is possible only at wild) or reading or conversing with people who are close to wild. Today every fact and detail about anything is possible with net connection and if one is interested in wildlife only we have to go there protectively not bringing them into our compound.

    I think zoo are maintained mainly for tourist attraction and helps people seeing variety of animals at one place rather going to wild taking much effort. I never agree for animals caged in zoo, we need to develop more natural resources to increase wildlife habitation which will only help protecting them.

    1. We destroy their habitat and create an artificial one (zoo) in order to ‘protect’ them. What an irony! I agree with your point that we’ll learn nothing about animals unless we observe them in their natural habitat. Vedandhangal bird sanctuary is an excellent example – There is just an observation platform to see birds in their natural habitat – There is no cage or net to keep them trapped there. That’s the way things should be.

      The problem is – humans don’t believe in co-habitation. They think that they own this earth and all its resources – Nature will teach a befitting lesson for this attitude.

      Destination Infinity

  7. Really an awakening post. It is making me to think at depth. In my early days I wished to have birds as pet. But later after growing, at some point I have realized that its really wonderful to watch birds flying and singing happily high up in the sky rather than to watch them in a cage.

  8. Interesting, really observant about the non-obvious facets of the traditions we have harbored into our society.(Hehe! overdid it) Even I never thought about it as I have stopped going to Zoo altogther & some of the comments do present what I was thinking.
    I do support protecting some of the species into Parks with partitions from humans where they can prey on their food.So, I would just ask you this – If human intervention disrupted the whole natural cycle & destroyed their eco-system. Doesn’t it comes back to humans to protect & conserve them, till the time there habitats are restored ??

    1. What you are saying is akin to leaving tigers in-charge of deer protection program! An interesting fact to note here is, even after many years of hunting and starving, both tigers and deers never became extinct. But once human beings developed latest technologies, both (and many more species) are threatened of extinction.

      Destination Infinity

  9. Quite a thought provoking post, Rajesh.
    I believe, Zoos are needed to prevent certain species from going extinct. And they serve as good learning mediums for kids to learn about wild life and their habitat. Of course, the animals in zoos should not be abused or hurt and proper care should be taken in terms of food, health etc.

    1. Certain species are going extinct because of whom? Us, humans. We jump and grab exquisitely made expensive items made from animal skins, tusks, hair and almost every body part (for which many animals are killed) and then have zoos in order to protect them from going extinct! What a generosity. Maybe we’ll even clone such animals to save them from becoming extinct (read: to continue harvesting their body parts for making decorative, and mostly useless articles).

      Destination Infinity

  10. I couldn’t agree more with your first statement, which so perfectly states the truth!

    In time, i guess we’d need zoos to know what animals are, for there will be none in the wild….. there’d be no such thing as the wild at all!

    Sigh!

    1. I think, in the near future, different forests might be sold to different corporate companies so that they can take anything they want without hinderance. The extent to which human-fallacies can go shocks me.

      Destination Infinity

    1. This is the problem with human thinking – We think that animals are better off if we take care of them. Except dogs (which love humans) and cats (to a certain extent), I don’t think any animal will be better of in our ‘care’. We might as well not interfere with their natural abilities and locking them up in cages only shunts their ability to fend for itself. Nobody wants to accept this basic fact, because shunting others abilities is one of our favorite activities – We do that even with other people, forget animals.

      Destination Infinity

  11. Rajesh, good post ! I
    Some of my thoughts:
    Imagine some humans who live on very low level of civilization. Some kind of homo sapiens who did invent the fire already, but have no stone tools yet.
    Such People still live on our planet. They become fewer and fewer, but you still could meet some of them in the jungles of Asia e.g. They have wooden spears and some other tools made from wood. Usually they eat small reptiles, birds, frogs, eggs, insects, roots and fruits, whatever they find, because their hunting weapons do not allow to hunt for big guys like buffalos. In the evening they build a small roof from leaves to sleep below. They light a fire, and because they have dogs, they are warned when a tiger approaches. Then they put more wood in the fire – their only weapon against predators. Sometimes one of them becomes tiger food. If one of them breaks his leg it’s over for him. If he gets a bad tooth he has to resist the pain until the tooth fell out in a natural way.
    Now, on the other side there are other humans, living in a City, with a shop around the Corner and the working office just 2 streets further. A hospital and a dentist are nearby. They spend their “hunting time” in their office cage instead of the nature and the super market delivers them with what they need for nutrition.
    Now, if you ask the people around you, which of the two living styles they would prefer – the wild human or the zoo human – what do you expect as an answer of the majority ?

    Lions don’t necessarily like to run for their food. If they can get it with just two steps of slow movement, no lion ever would hesitate to use such an offer. And even if this would happen for a long time, no Lion would ever think: “Hm, I think I should do some jogging today….”
    What do you think, a lion would prefer, to walk 20 miles everyday, to get his piece of meet or just to do a handful of steps ?

    But, I don’t like animals in cages too… 😉

    The Lazy Lion

    1. I will slightly change the concept of zoo human – Instead of comparing them to normal human beings in cubicles (which is a valid comparison, btw), think of human beings in a prison. They get food, they get medical care, they get security, etc. all for free. In exchange for it, they have to live inside a closed enclosure and maybe do some labor for a small time. They can even read books!

      If people enjoy being in such prisons, why do we keep them in prison as a punishment? Why don’t more cubicle humans clamor to become prison humans (after all, one has to earn his own bread outside)?

      If what you say is right, socialism should have thrived in this world – not capitalism.

      Destination Infinity

  12. I dont like the fact that animals are locked up 🙁 but I love visiting zoos. I wouldnt have seen a lion or an orangutan ever in my life if not for zoos. But zoos in US are better in that the enclosure in which the animals are kept are pretty big. They have lot of space to roam around with lots of trees around them and lot of places to sleep or hide without people staring at them.

    1. I don’t understand how having larger enclosures mean something better to the locked-up animals. Would you like to live in a prison which has a large room?

      Destination Infinity

    1. The condition of zoos is secondary consideration. Whether we need them at all, is the first. Just because animals don’t have a language (that we understand), it doesn’t mean that they don’t yearn for freedom. They have emotions, just like us.

      Destination Infinity

  13. A sanctuary is preferable to a zoo any day. A zoo is just torture. When I was young I used to enjoy it, but today I realise the seriousness of it. It’s really sad.

  14. your post really made me think. I have always loved going to zoo, but now I cant find a single reason. But since we are destroying forest we have no other way to conserve their species..though I doubt that will do.
    I dont think now I will enjoy my visits to zoo anymore. Thanks for writing such post!

    1. There is not much of a reason to go to a zoo – People feel the fake sense of being closer to nature and animals, but the truth is – they are torturing animals without intending to. High-time people realized this simple thing.

      Destination Infinity

  15. Your post really changes the mentality. I truely empathise with these animals who are kept in Zoos for the sake of entertainment of the visitors. Do they ever realise how do they feel having been put in a cage or a limited area.

  16. As a kid I have enjoyed going to the zoo so many times but only later I realized how cruel it is for the animals. I totally agree with your post. We DON’T need zoos. What we need is more compassion for animals, more thought about the planet and it’s other inhabitants and less of human selfishness!

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