Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Why I Don't Take My Kids to the Zoo

When I was a kid, I wanted nothing more than to work with animals. Growing up on a "farm" with my parents, running a therapeutic riding clinic along side them, I could think of nothing better than being some kind of animal trainer. Then, I got a taste of what captivity is like for sentient wild animals.

Zoos, circuses, and aquariums use tactful advertising to lead consumers to believe that they are "conserving" species. These places are about profit via entertainment. I don;t want my children to grow up thinking animals are here for their pleasure. I know going to a theme park makes for a great day of fun, after all I was a child once, and my parents took me with the best intentions. However, knowing everything I know now, I couldn’t possibly bring my future child into a place that represents fun for humans and suffering for animals.

Sure, baby elephants look adorable balancing on a ball, but that poor elephant has been tied and whipped into submission in order to get that trick down. The wild cats and small mammals have been caged, overcrowded and neglected while being transported in unsanitary trucks to their next performance, or they're being kept in cages not even 1/10th of the size they might roam in the wild. Babies are ripped from their mothers far too soon to be sold off to other animal jails. The sad truth, is that these seemingly cute animals are not happy. They don’t want to perform, and they are isolated from their kind. Even when big efforts are made to fake a natural environment, their enclosures are far too small, and they have a limited and depressing life.

Despite their professed concern for animals, zoos can more accurately be described as “collections” of interesting animals than as actual havens or homes. Even under the best of circumstances at the best of zoos, captivity cannot begin to replicate wild animals’ habitats. Animals are often prevented from doing most of the things that are natural and important to them, like running, roaming, flying, climbing, foraging, choosing a partner, and being with others of their own kind. Zoos teach people that it is acceptable to interfere with animals and keep them locked up in captivity, where they are bored, cramped, lonely, deprived of all control over their lives, and far from their natural homes.

The average child knows more about dinosaurs than they know about monkeys. You don't need to put animals in cages to educate the world about them. Live animal feeds, animal sanctuaries, wild life rescues, and safaris are all much better alternatives to tapping on the glass of some poor animals cage. You can go here for more info on how animals all over the world are suffering from captivity.

Orcas were ripped from the wild on hunts, from families that mourn them in the wild. Their pods forever miss them, and they never get over being separated from their loved ones. Once in captivity they are forcibly bred, isolated from their families, and condemned to live in overcrowded treated water tanks. Dolphins, highly sensitive creatures, are available to the public in petting pools, where they can be exposed to bacteria and stress, causing ulcers which they then need to be treated for. Their intelligence is used against them to provide cheap tricks for an audience, during which they can incur injuries, or even death. What's worse is that the majority of these dolphins are bought from Taiji. You can read more about their barbaric hunting practice in my blog post here.

I save the money I would spend on overpriced entry tickets, and will take my family to animal sanctuaries and wild life rescues. I will teach them that we should save, rescue, care for, and protect animals. I want to teach my children to be kinder than my generation is. I want them to be so selfless, that they want to stop the unnecessary suffering of an animal before they feel the need to be entertained. I want them to stand up for the defenseless, and to not buy into what media and advertisement sells them, just because everyone else does. I want them to question things before they believe it, or at least research it before they decide it’s for them.

If you feel like I do, that animals in captivity are being treated inhumanely, and a simple google search can give you plenty of proof, please join me in emptying the tanks.

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