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Old 06-22-2021, 04:59 PM
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This is an editorial opinion by Emma Marris. It has me thinking that zoos may have made sense 100-200 years ago, but might simply be obsolete in a world of travel and internet.

Zoos Are Bad for Animals
Apes are excellent at escaping. Little Joe, a gorilla, escaped from the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston twice in 2003. At the Los Angeles Zoo, a gorilla named Evelyn escaped seven times in 20 years. Apes are known for picking locks and keeping a beady eye on their captors, waiting for the day someone forgets to lock the door. An orangutan at the Omaha Zoo kept wire for lock-picking hidden in his mouth. A gorilla named Togo at the Toledo Zoo used his incredible strength to bend the bars of his cage. When the zoo replaced the bars with thick glass, he started methodically removing the putty holding it in. In the 1980s, a group of orangutans escaped several times at the San Diego Zoo. In one escape, they worked together: One held a mop handle steady while her sister climbed it to freedom. Another time, one of the orangutans, Kumang, learned how to use sticks to ground the current in the electrical wire around her enclosure. She could then climb the wire without being shocked. It is impossible to read these stories without concluding that these animals wanted out.
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Old 06-22-2021, 08:29 PM
Location: Seattle
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I get that there are a lot of arguments against zoos but this isn’t a particularly good one. The fact that a very tiny percentage of animals - all primates, it seems - is able to escape on a rare occasion doesn’t really justify shutting down zoos altogether though it may mean zoos need to reassess how they’re housing these primates who are prone to escaping.

Zoos will never replace nature for most animals, particularly carnivores. That’s the real argument against them. But they do serve a function in terms of research and preservation. They help to maintain and promote genetic diversity in vulnerable and endangered species for example. In a world where poaching is very much still an issue in the wild, zoos are often a last haven for many species that would otherwise go extinct. Several species have been brought back from the brink in no small part thanks to zoos.

Emma needs to do better.
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Old 06-23-2021, 12:34 PM
Location: on the wind
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Have to agree. That's a very weak argument. If you really want to badmouth zoos there are much more compelling ones to choose from.

I wouldn't make the blanket statement that zoos are obsolete, but that their purpose, mission, and methodology should change if it hasn't already. Like a lot of institutions, what may have been a founding reason for their existence can't be expected to remain relevant forever.

And, of course, not all of them are created equal. There are zoos that were nothing more than excuses for the owner to covet, obtain, display, and brag about various commercially valuable animals. Exploitation for profit. Then there are zoological institutions that are deeply involved with rare species conservation worldwide. Part of that is educating the oblivious human viewing public. Sometimes they can accomplish things a governmental conservation agency can't, either due to funding, snarls of bureaucracy or restrictions on authority, lack of manpower, governmental inertia and neglect.

A large segment of the human population can't be bothered to care about anything but their own species unless they get to experience an at risk creature in person. Some people call those animals ambassadors, others call them sacrificial (some need to be put on display so other members of the species benefit). Many zoos have deep pockets and they're positioned well to coax $ out of an otherwise sated or ignorant public. They can contribute quite a bit to protect and preserve threatened species...not just the charismatic ones like tigers or rhinos, but the obscure ones that share the same habitats. They end up benefitting from reflected glory. Some of it does come down to the old argument about the end justifying the means or vice versa.
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Old 06-23-2021, 01:04 PM
Location: Rochester, WA
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Yeah - Dogs get out and run free more often than zoo animals. Should they be returned to the wild?
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Old 06-23-2021, 01:11 PM
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I remember seeing a commercial where a little girl said "Tigers live in the zoo." It's not supposed to be that way.
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Old 06-23-2021, 02:41 PM
Location: USA
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The mission and functions of zoos have changed greatly since they were started.

"Founded in 1895 as the New York Zoological Society, the Wildlife Conservation Society was one of the first conservation organizations in the U.S. The Society began with a clear mandate: Advance wildlife conservation, promote the study of zoology, and create a first-class zoo. In fact we have five: the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, and New York Aquarium.

WCS's staff of field and zoo experts work together in the service of a single mission: to save wildlife and wild places. As our vets, curators, and keepers care for the animals in our four zoos and aquarium in New York, they share their insights with scientists working in the field to save wildlife. Field staff report back their observations of animal behavior and needs in nature, which in turn bolsters animal wellbeing in the parks."

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Old 06-23-2021, 05:44 PM
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I grew up going to the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal (now Safari) Park, which has a conservation focus and a remarkable record of rescuing species from extinction and returning them to the wild. Some captive animals can't be re-released to the wild for various reasons, and others need to be kept in a protected location (i.e. California condor, Rodrigues fruit bat, etc.) while conservation efforts are ongoing. That being the case, there is no reason people shouldn't visit the zoo and enjoy seeing them, thereby helping financially support the work.

Of course I am against going out and collecting wild animals just so people can come to the zoo and see them. But very few, if any, zoos in the US do such a thing any more.
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Old 06-23-2021, 06:00 PM
Location: North Carolina
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What I like about the NC Zoo is that it is a natural habitat zoo, so that the environment mimics the environment the animals would live in if they were in the wild, except they're also getting consistent food and care. The animals, unlike in other zoos, are not caged.


Last edited by Jowel; 06-23-2021 at 06:11 PM..
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Old 06-24-2021, 06:54 AM
Location: Dallas
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I dislike zoos and won't visit them. Being stared at by throngs of people 7 days a week can't be pleasant for the animals. Even worse, the zoos that keep animals in cages are inhumane, IMO.

There was a incident several years ago of a group of kids teasing a gorilla, saying "you ugly"....the gorilla became agitated - why this was allowed to go on to that point is beyond me. The zoo employees should have the animals best interest in mind at all times.

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Old 06-24-2021, 07:30 AM
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Most zoos are a habitate to protect the species . Think elephants in the wild being slaughtered for the tusk. By having a safe haven the animal vets and caretaker can monitor with some decency.

Observing the behavior for research are another source of study for some.

I sat for an hour just marveling at the antics of the prairie dogs at the DC zoo.

I dearly despise all the overcrowding though by humans at some 'staged events', think dolphin show....seals etc.
Those I prefer on a a boat while cruising a shoreline.
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