By Cassie Ames
When I was little, I used to love going to visit zoos. My parents would take me or I would go on class trips, and like a lot of people in the world, they were a place of enjoyment and fun. But as I got older and more educated on animal behavior and needs, I started to wonder how good zoos really were for the animals inside them.
I know that zoos have benefits for some of the animals they keep, such as endangered animals or animals that can no longer live on their own in their natural habitats. Also, many nonprofit zoos who solely focus on the conservation of animals are important. However, I also think that there are few zoos that offer adequate space, entertainment, stimulation, and freedom for the animals inside.
I feel as if the majority of zoos are more about making a profit from the animals inside and don’t care enough about their actual wellbeing… Or they are simply unable to adequately provide for the animals inside. I’ve seen so many countless videos of animals, such as big cats, primates, and bears pacing around their cages, which aren’t nearly big enough for them. Every time I see something like that now, I can’t help but try to put myself in their shoes.
I couldn’t imagine being stuck in there while people come by to gawk at me. I personally believe most animals can feel or think things similarly or even the same way that we feel them as humans. Maybe not the exact same, but I always think they are more capable than most people understand. I feel with animals, since we really don’t know what they are capable of thinking or feeling, people cannot properly judge what is okay/not okay to do to them.
I will admit that the smaller animals bother me less in zoos because the size of their environment is usually better off than those of the larger animals. And their habitats seem more sustainable. I am also aware that zoos have certain laws in place that they have to follow regarding the animals—but just because there are rules doesn’t mean they always get followed exactly how they should be.
I truly wish there were better ways to display animals that you don’t normally see, or a way to preserve animals that are endangered in a way that doesn’t make their quality of life poorer. I’ve seen people who have come up with the idea of a holographic zoo or zoos along those lines as a futuristic end to zoos. But, I know the possibility of those replacing zoos anytime soon is extremely far-fetched. It is a really nice and interesting idea to consider, though!
I haven’t been to any zoos since I was younger because my head would never stop wondering if the animals were truly okay or happy, which made me unable to enjoy the experience altogether. I am not going to discourage anyone from going to the zoo, but I would ask them to try to actually take the scene in and think about the animals’ emotions while they are there and make that conclusion for themselves.