Keeping wild animals in zoos is wrong because they suffer physical and mental damage in captivity, and experience neglect from their keepers, all for nothing more than a profit for those that buy them. When it comes to animals in captivity there are in two categories. The first category of animals are those that are, for one reason or another, born into captivity. The second category of animals, the ones who are more likely to suffer from mental damage, are those who are taken from the wild, and then placed into captivity.
The distinction between these two types of animals is important because the first category of animals, those that were born in captivity, can be considered somewhat domesticated because they have never known a life outside of human care, which is essentially what domestication is. The second category of animals is more at risk for suffering from mental damage because going from living in the wild to living in captivity is a big change and as much as zoos try, they simply cannot replicate the environments that the animals need to properly be sustained both mentally and physically.
The idea that wild animals shouldn’t be kept in captivity is supported by the article “Marine Mammals in Captivity”, published by the The Humane Society of the United States, when they say, “The U. S. government allows the capture of wild marine mammals for public display [… ] contending that public display serves educational and conservation purposes. However, experience has proven that public display does not effectively educate the public and that profit is the main motive for conducting traumatic and stressful captures. ” In their article they are able to point ot the flaws of keeping animals in captivity.
This article points out the fact that not only is keeping animals in captivity wrong, but the process of capturing them is harmful. This is because when the animals are taken from the wild because of the families it separates and the social groups it disrupts. This article also addresses a very important issue and that is what not all animals breed well in captivity (Marine Mammals in Captivity). This is something that people need to realize because some try to justify zoos and such because it is helping to conserve wildlife and prevent extinction but this is not true.
Just because an endangered wild life take aways from the dangers it faces in the wild does not mean it’s population will begin to thrive in captivity. In the same way that humans are selective about who they reproduce with, so are animals. There is no guarantee that whatever animals placed into captivity are going to reproduce, in which case they will just spend their life in captivity for quite literally no reason. According to a proposal by the United States Department of Agriculture in America, the law that protects animals is called The Animal Welfare Act.
It was created in 1966 in order to protect only cats and dogs from being used in research experiments. Since it’s creation it has been amended multiple times and now includes a wider variety of animals, not just cats and dogs. It sets rules and limitations on what animals can be used for, how they can be transported, and how they can be sold (USDA-APHIS Publications). In theory this act is good because it places limits on researchers only being able to buy animals from listed and licenced dealers. This act also make the sponsorships of any kind of animal fighting illegal.
The problem with this act is that it is somewhat out of date. Some of the standards governing the care, treatment, and transportation for certain animals were put into place long ago when the government had little to no proper research about the animals it was trying to protect. Some aspects of the Act have yet to be amended since 1984 (USDAAPHIS Publications). Also, many of regulations in the act are also extremely general. Therefore, in some cases, it is legal to keep some animals in inhumane conditions due to the lack egulation. It is wrong to keep animals that have not been domesticated in captivity because it disrupts them buth physically and mentally. This is because no matter how hard they try facilities can’t replicate most animals natural habitats. An excellent Example of this can bee seen in the article “Wild vs. Captivity” published by the Animal Welfare Institute in which they point out the differences in what a whale’s life is like in the wild, and a whale’s life is like in captivity.
In the wild, they travel long distances, they spend only 10-20% of their time at the surface of the water, and they live in large groups (Wild vs. Captivity). In comparison, when they are kept in captivity it is unlikely that they will live in a larger group because of small enclosures, they spend half of their time at the surface of the water because it is so shallow in comparison to what they’re use to being in, and they don’t get to swim around as much because they are kept in pool with limited space. In some cases the animals in captivity will suffer from zoochosis.
Zoochosis is described by the organization Born Free as animals in captivity acting in an obsessive, repetitive way, performing an action that has no goal or function. Examples of this type of behavior include bar biting, neck twisting, pacing, circling, excessive grooming, and self mutilation. A common one of these behavior that is seen in captive animals in excessive grooming in big cats. They groom themselves until they give themselves a rash or infection (Zoochosis: Abnormal and Stereotypic Behavior In Captive Animals).
The common factor that all these factors have in common is that they’re repetitive, habitual actions. As stated in an article by Wildlife New Zealand, a study in 2001 found that out of 257 giraffes and okapi, 80% of the showed signs of zoochosis (Zoochotic Behaviour – Stereotypic Behaviour In Sight – Out of Mind). Zoochosis is a mental illness for these animals, and is just as serious as a mental illness would be for a person. These animals are suffering because they are dealing with traumatic experiences hat a lot of people can’t comprehend because the things that cause animals stress are drastically different from what will stress out a person. One of the final reasons what non domesticated animals shouldn’t be kept in captivity is because they’re being neglected for people financial gain. Overall, the popularity of zoos have been decreasing across America. What profit that are made usually go towards human benefits such as concession stands and gift shops, rather than being used to better the conditions the animals live in.
In China, pandas are rented out to zoos across the world, and the money that is being made off of them isn’t even going towards efforts to help them not become extinct. Some argue that keeping these animals in captivity has education benefits but this is not true. The reality of the situation is that when visiting the zoo, people don’t learn much about the animals. From experience it is known that only broad information is given about an animal at its exhibit and nothing more.
In fact, it is also impossible to really lean anything about a wild animal’s behavior from a zoo because since they are not in their natural habitat, they are not behaving naturally. Logically, makes the point that zoos are simply a showcase of animals rather than an opportunity to learn about them. This is why, based on the above criteria and examples, keeping animals that have not been domesticated in captivity is wrong. It is obvious that they suffer both mentally and physically, and that the only takeaway is money for they keepers.