Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

Frightened Zoo Visitors Trapped

Written by PETA | July 11, 2008

nytimes / CC
bronx_zoo.jpg

This week, visitors to the Bronx Zoo found themselves hanging above ground inside tiny, cramped tram cars for roughly five hours because of a malfunction on the “Skyfari” ride. Cars containing zoo patrons, including children and a pre-diabetic, were suspended over the animal enclosures as they waited for help.

Let me recap for the irony-impaired: People who came to look at animals stuck in cages ended up stuck cages themselves.

For perhaps the first time since their capture (or births in captivity), the residents of the pens below the tram tracks had reason to feel grateful for their enclosures’ sizes—they at least had walking room (albeit it nothing like freedom), while the human animals were confined to 4-by-5-foot boxes. On the other hand, the human animals had liberty and exercise of free will to look forward to, which was not the case for the Bronx Zoo’s permanent “residents.”

Some stranded patrons saw the connection, according to The New York Times, which ran the story.

One such visitor walked away with a better understanding of how the animals must feel: “You have no say in what happens to you. You lose all control,” she told the Times. Another man said, “It’s a good lesson to humanity. They’re now afraid, they’re now vulnerable. Humanity needs to learn humility. They’re not masters of the universe. They’re part of the natural world.”

What bizarre role reversal will come next? Will meat kill people? Oh, wait ….

Posted by Sean Conner

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  • W. says:

    Zoo’s suck and what they have done to the animals should be a crime….

  • K says:

    Not all zoos are the same. The zoo in my state gives the animals ACRES of land to roam around in. The aviary lets the birds fly around freely. The herd animals have several hundred acres.Most of the profit made is used for food shelter and vet care for the animals. All artwork benches and other decorations are DONATED by the public. They also hold several fundraisers to give back to the animals in the wild. They offer a sponsership for an endangered species of your choice. There are NO breeding programs. Don’t condemn all zoos as being terrible horrible places that torture animals. If you haven’t been to all of them you can’t really say they’re all like that. I want my children to know what the animals really look like without having to rely on TV or the internet to see them. I do NOT however support all zoos. I am well aware there are some “cheap” zoos out there that don’t treat their animals with dignity and respect. But the zoo we have is not like that. Those animals have a place to live that resembles their natural environment. There are no bars the glass is out of reach of the animals and is there only to keep people out. The exhibits are open air. There are no roofs. I quite admire our zoo and am proud to be a zoo member because I know our zoo is humane and doesn’t mistreat animals.

  • Maya, C.V.T. says:

    Sadly the Bronx Zoo only gives nice enclosures to the popular animals. The snakes salamanders etc are put in terribly inhumane cases. Check out the nocturnal animal exhibit. They are kept in giftstore like exhibits encased in plastic and which are way too small crowded and hot for the species. In fact many species are forced into tiny spaces very stressful for the nocturnal animals. I’ve worked at a zoo and most put convenience and affordability before the animal’s care but they continue to spend a fortune on new “exhibits” read living animals which attract new visitors. Zoos only “educate” the public that nature is a dangerous place and that the wildlife should be kept in zoo enclosures so they can be “well fed and safe”. Not a good lesson to teach the public. And they have the nerve to say they “save” endangered species when all they do is send the message that they can always “make more animals” if we destroy the ecosystem and wildlife goes extinct. Shame shame shame.

  • rebecca says:

    No chris i work at the bronx zoo and you wouldnt believe in the things WCS does for the animals and how the zoo is NOT up to date with technology.

  • rebecca says:

    I hate the idea of the zoo but before anyone judges the Bronx Zoo understand some history behind it. First it is the head quarters for The Wild Life Conservation Society which does miracles here and all around the world. Secondly all of the profits of the Zoo go to WCS to help wildlife around the world. The Bronx Zoo was the first zoo to be green in the early 1900s before the concept was popular and also they began making large exhibits for a small number of animals to live in it but full of enrichments and activities many animals expierence in the wild. Maybe so it might seem unethical to bring animals out of their habitats but with exhibits like Congo and Madagasar the zoo has raised a lot of money to support efforts of preserving Gorillas Lemurs and many more animals. One great achievement was the saving the Bison from extinction at one point the complete population of the bison were in the Zoo but with the work of many lovely people they have build up and released back into the wild and now today the number is so great it is legal to hunt them again! In the picture you can can see one exhibit with only 4 african goats living there with all that space and enrichments unseen its a good way to teach the guests about animals and conservating wildlife

  • S.Q. says:

    Chelsea Zookeepers aren’t jailers. Jailers keep guard of prisoners and make sure they don’t misbehave. Zookeepers care for love and sustain animals. They are highly experienced. How about we put you into a lion’s cage and see what happens? You won’t make him love you by kissing him and saying you love him and want to release him into the wild. Nice try. Look into an animal’s eyes? Content because they have food and shelter. You release the lions and tigers into the wild. The look in their eyes will be of confusion. They will just stare at you and then expect you to feed them. Then they’ll probably eat you. This is especially true in animals that have been born in zoos. Animals lash out. Everyday? So the zoos will have to be shut down? Occurances are rare. I have seen a tiger amble up to his zookeeper and rub up against him and the keeper scratched his head and gave him a treat. Oooooo…how that keeper is torturing that cat. You obviously are all heart no brains. You won’t change my opinions with your constant jail comparisons. Zoos and jails are different. Zoos and circuses are different. Read a book my grossly misinformed friend.

  • Jose Reynosa says:

    This story makes no sense all your doing is being mean about the people stranded in the carts. We shouldn’t belittle ourselves in order to make a point and thats exactly what this article does. Shame!

  • Maya, CVT says:

    Please let me add one thing to what I just said I really really appreciate that PETA is speaking out against breeding in zoos. I realize that habitat protection is not part of PETA’s mission statement and they have every right to not speak about it. However if we are going to discuss humane treatment of ANY wild animal nothing can be more important than protecitng their habitat it’s all they’ve got!!!! Wild animals don’t just magically vanish into extinction. Deforestation development and oil spills devestate animals and make them suffer terribly. I would love it if PETA would occasionally remind us that any eco friendly behavior toward habitat will keep tens of thousands of animals from suffering!

  • Maya, CVT says:

    Jace don’t get me wrong I completely respect your opinion. However I must ask why is it important to rebuild the population if they are only going to live in zoos? What’s the point? If we breed only to keep the species around in zoos our motivations are entirely selfish and cruel. It is so we can look at them. Right now there is very little chance that wild places will be given the chance to recover so we are creating more wildlife with less habitat on which to live. If there is not enough habitat or resources to maintain a healthy wild population we should let them go extinct.

  • JaceD says:

    I find it sad that anyone can say that breeding endangered animals in a zoo to protect the species is a farce. Many species have gone almost extinct in the wild and whose captive population is either the last best hope for the species or has been a spring board to rebuild the wild population. The mongolian wild horse and the arabian oryx are two such species that were extinct in the wild and were only able to be introduced back to there natural habitat thanks to the efforts of zoos. The amur leopard with a wild population of only 30 individuals would be wiped out in a single generation thanks to inbreeding if it wasn’t for the 300+ captive individuals. I also discredit the claim that only cute and cuddley animals gain the benefit of breeding programs. The waldrapp ibis is not an aesthetically pleasing species of bird this on the verge of extinction in the wild. The Bronx zoo is one of a few institutions that maintain flocks and strive to breed them so as to bolster the wild numbers. I cannot in good conscience discredit the valid points of the detractors of the practice of captive breeding programs but I believe that until the true problem which is findind a balance with human populations and maintaing wild sanctuaries can be solved there is no better way to maintain species.

  • Carla says:

    Maya Amen sista!! Humans decide which ones can breed and which ones can not. That can’t be good!! And deforestation… We are all paying the price!!

  • Maya, C.V.T. says:

    Two messages Carla thanks my friend!! I was in South Carolina doing research on chimney swifts!! J I have great respect for people who care for animals in the Bronx Zoo. Most in charge there are doing the best they can. However breeding in captivity is a terrible hideous act committed by people who have good hearts but are severely short sighted. We are not saving endangered species we are just pumping out live “products” to replace the native wild animals who have evolved to contribute to the ecosystem. Breeding endangered wild animals is no better than impregnating African women to “replace” babies who have died of AIDS. It does not address the real issue. We are destroying the Earth upon which endangered animals live. Oceans are contaminated with oil spills our drinking water is drying up mangrove and boreal forests are being ravaged and deforested. This completely decimates the homes of endangered animals. It makes life unlivable for them. Pumping out Walmartlike production of wild animals just makes the problem worse. These artificially bred animals have insufficient immune systems to survive in the wild and did not undergo the processes of natural selection to contribute to the diversity of the genepool or have adaptations to survive challenges in natural habitat. These artificially bred zoo animals can only create more competition and difficulties for native animals living in the wild trying to keep the cycle of life going as they recover their populations. I have dozens more reasons why breeding in captivity is a problem not the least of which is that there has never been proof that zoo animals change people’s views towards conservation. If anything it makes people think that wild animals are better off in captivity because they think that nature is cruel and harsh instead of realizing that habitat protection needs to be the ultimate humane goal of our species. Thank you for listening.

  • Christina says:

    I really pity the ignorance that Americans seem to maintain regarding animals. The main function of a zoo is to make money and that they do..thanks to all the mommies and daddies out there that are so completely caught up in their ordinary lives that they cannot see past the garbage and Bullshit they have been fed most of their lives. I say I pity these people because it is a shame that the true nature of how a zoo operates is not common knowledgeand it isn’t. People look at a zoo and think its a nice place to take your kids and see the exotic animals and the zoo has “saved”…instead of thinking outside the box. These animals have not been saved. They have been transported to a facility that locks them up and takes them away from their NATURAL habitat. Its wrong. Why is this such a secret though? When I discuss this topic with friends they all jump on the bandwagon of zoos being helpful to animals….I don’t know that these people have ever been exposed to the other side of the coin.. tis a shame

  • J says:

    I’m surprised at how many people are bashing the Bronx Zoo. Of course old fashioned zoos of the past were terrible but I have had worked for the WCS run zoos in NYC and I have found the Bronx Zoo in particular to be humane. They even discontinued having elephants in the zoo once the last one they had passed away of old age. They did this after reading studies that showed that elephants suffer greatly in captivity. Everyone who works with the animals at this zoo and reputable zoos throughout the world care deeply for the animals and are doing their best to help them. How can you say that zoos do not help preserve endangered species? Some species in the world only exist in zoos bc humans have completely destroyed their habitat. Are you really saying that you would rather see this animals extinct? Also proper zoos with a scientific focus do in fact teach children about animals. It was through going to zoos seeing animals in the wild and reading zoo books as a child that I became passionate about them and later chose to be a vegan and work with them.

  • sundance says:

    The Monterey Bay Aquarium rescued orphaned baby sea otters and raised them for release back to the wild. Even this fairly modest goal since these were wild born babies was a complete diasater. One of their releases was later recaptured. This was becuase the animal had no social skills and was shunned by the natural population of sea otters. Being highly social the released otter starting trying to play and mate baby seals. When this did not work out the released otter then attacked baby seals and killed them. The social lives of animals is complex and zoos and captive breeding programs are lucky if they can even provide minimal care for the animals. A complex world cannot be copied into a zoo format. The primary reason animals are endangered is loss of habitat. Money is better spent to get local populations to protect wild habitats than to build and enhance zoos in the name of captive breeding.

  • No Importa says:

    “Let me recap for the ironyimpaired…” OMG that made my day thank you. A quick review of the excuses for zoos left me feeling a little sour though. It seems many people just don’t get it Wild animals in cages is torture for the animal. People trapped against their will in cages understand this concept. The really sad thought is that maybe some people just don’t care…

  • Carla says:

    Hey welcome back Maya!! I’m backing you 100!!

  • Maya, CVT says:

    I’m SOOOO happy to see that people are finally getting the message breeding in captivity and reintroduction DOES NOT I REPEAT DOES NOT HELP ENDANGERED SPECIES. When habitat is destroyed breeding and introducing more animals is disasterous. More animals with fewer places to live. Add to that the fact that the public is lulled into thinking they don’t have to behave more eco friendly because zoos will just “make more” animals. And those zoos? The only good humane enclosures inevitable kill off habitat for native animals!! The only good zoos are where nonreleaseable wild animals are given a home and the humane enclosures are only created for animals already in existence. Please anyone who agrees with me help me get the word out to the public breeding in captivity and reintroductions are extremely harmful!! And in case you’re wondering I’m earning a master’s degree in biology not just spouting nonsense!

  • brandie r. says:

    Eh no matter how you look at it those people were stranded and had no one to help them those few hours they were stuck. At least the animals in captivity in the zoos have people that care for them. Although I am not saying I agree or disagree with zoos. And the one of the people trapped in the tram who said they understand how the animals feel they will return to a zoo sooner or later. She identifies now but I am sure her feelings will go back to how they once were. Small changes can begin with one person but I rarely meet any adult willing to change their beliefs morals or values.

  • Luis says:

    A zoo is no different than a circus or a rodeo in that they are all businesses whose primary function is to turn a profit. Don’t let their slogans and missions statements fool you at the end of the day when a zoo has to choose between the care of an animal and protecting profits guess who will lose out? The Bronx Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the country and also the most egregious example of the selfcongratulatory model of modern zoos. They take in millions of dollars each year in ticket and merchandise sales but invest little of their profits in their animals or their conservation efforts. Instead they spend on zoo “improvements” such as touch screen informational displays and new food courts. The priorities of zoos like the famous Bronx Zoo are clear and animals are nowhere near the top of the list. No doubt some zoos employ well intentioned people who spend years learning about the animals they care for. But it takes only a quick search of the internet to learn that an African elephant for example has a natural habitat range of 1200 square miles 40 times the size of Manhattan and more than 1200 times the size of the entire Bronx Zoo. Zoos are perhaps more dangerous than circuses that use animals if only because zoos do a better job of misleading the public. And animal neglect and abuse is as prevalent at zoos as it is at circuses. So if you don’t patronize Ringling Bros. you should also steer clear of the Bronx Zoo.

  • Chris says:

    Animals only really care about Food and Shelter they will give up freedom willingly for a regular meal and a safe place to stay. when my horse gets scared he runs back to his stall because he knows he is safe there and when left to wander he always goes home animals could care less about freedom they don’t understand the concept. animals in the wild will follow the food source thats what their instincts tell them to do. So stop trying to make it seem like they are better off in the wild some animals in the zoo were rescued and are unable to live in the wild and would surely die out there.

  • Bob says:

    The claim that zoos are saving species from extinction is a farce. The primary function of zoos is to serve as entertainment for people at the expense of the animals. Zoos’ breeding programs focus largely on the cute and cuddly species whose babies will draw visitors and their wallets through the zoo gates. No polar bear gorilla tiger rhino elephant or chimpanzee born at a zoo will ever be reintroduced to the wild and while zoos squander limited resources legitimate conservation efforts struggle for funding. The harm caused to animals in zoos is endless. Dickerson Park Zoo in Missouri recently sent surplus animals to exotic animal dealers including one whose affiliation with hunting ranches has been welldocumented. A bear at the Toledo Zoo was locked up to hibernate left without food or water and ultimately starved to death because the zoo didn’t know that she was a species of bear who doesn’t hibernate. At the National Zoo in Washington DC dozens of animals have died in recent years including two zebras who died of malnutrition two red pandas who died from eating rat poison and an orangutan who was euthanized because zoo officials mistakenly believed she had cancer. Despite knowing that two Asiatic bears had fought dozens of times the Denver Zoo continued to house them together until one finally killed the other. At the Cleveland Zoo at least 5 kangaroos and wallabies have been struck and injured by the train that runs through their exhibit and the zoos vet advocates the use of surplus zoo animals in medical experimentation. Polar bears and other animals at numerous zoos have died from swallowing foreign objects thrown into their enclosures. A veterinary error during surgery caused the death of a giraffe at the Columbus Zoo. No matter how natural zoo enclosures may appear they never come close to accommodating the powerful needs and instincts of the wild animals they imprison. Animals in zoos are generally denied natural behaviors such as flying swimming running hunting climbing foraging scavenging and partner selection. Every aspect of their lives is manipulated and controlled. The neurotic behaviors caused by the boredom and stress of captivity compulsive pacing circling rocking headrolling overgrooming vomiting and selfmutilation are easily documented at any zoo you go to. Zoos began as menageries when few people traveled to “exotic” places before wildlife videos existed and before we knew of the amazing intelligence and behavioral needs of wild animals. We no longer have any excuse for keeping intelligent social animals in cages.

  • Carla says:

    S.Q. Lions also have a home range of 50 square miles in the wild typically. You have been brainwashed into believing zoos are just wonderful. Ask the polar bear while he paces back and forth they too have a large home range back home even wider then the lions’. I’m sorry but being kept from everything that would come naturally for them including “killing” their own prey have been denied!! Jail should only for those who commit a crimes.

  • Karesha says:

    I live in Harlem and have been to the bronx zoo before and it’s great there .The animals have huge spaces! Some zoos are bad but compered 2 other 1s this one is really good

  • Chelsea says:

    S.Q. “to teach people about wild animals and how we can help them” a.How do you learn about wild animals from seeing animals in cages? That’s like saying you can learn everything about the human race by studying prisoners. b. If you want to help them stop locking them in cages. “Many zoos have great animal enclosures” An animal enclosure no matter how ‘realistic’ is still a prison. “And not all animals are claustrophobes who hear the call of the wild every day and want to be set free on the savanna. If they did they’d contantly be lashing out at people and not eating and trying to escape” a. Yes they’re called cats and they’re domesticated. b. Animals DO often try to escape and have to be killed after running amok and many animals DO lash out which is why they always say don’t put your damn fingers through the bars and don’t feed the monkeys or whatever. Be informed. God. “Zoo animals pretty much like their home better than being out in the wild to forage for their own food and risk death and disease. Lions are lazy.” Seriously? I’m regretting now even replying to this since you’re clearly just in denial. And you’re next sentence is “You’re not an animal you don’t know what they feel” so why do you claim to since I’m pretty sure lions can’t type so you must be human too. If you want to know how an animal feels look into his eyes don’t ask a zookeeper. If you wanted to know how a prisoner was doing you’d ask the prisoner not the jailer. The jailer is probably going to tell you everything is fine.

  • Bailey says:

    The claim that zoos are saving species from extinction is a farce. The primary function of zoos is to serve as entertainment for people at the expense of the animals. Zoos’ breeding programs focus largely on the cute and cuddly species whose babies will draw visitors and their wallets through the zoo gates. No polar bear gorilla tiger rhino elephant or chimpanzee born at a zoo will ever be reintroduced to the wild and while zoos squander limited resources legitimate conservation efforts struggle for funding. The harm caused to animals in zoos is endless. Dickerson Park Zoo in Missouri recently sent surplus animals to exotic animal dealers including one whose affiliation with hunting ranches has been welldocumented. A bear at the Toledo Zoo was locked up to hibernate left without food or water and ultimately starved to death because the zoo didn’t know that she was a species of bear who doesn’t hibernate. At the National Zoo in Washington DC dozens of animals have died in recent years including two zebras who died of malnutrition two red pandas who died from eating rat poison and an orangutan who was euthanized because zoo officials mistakenly believed she had cancer. Despite knowing that two Asiatic bears had fought dozens of times the Denver Zoo continued to house them together until one finally killed the other. At the Cleveland Zoo at least 5 kangaroos and wallabies have been struck and injured by the train that runs through their exhibit and the zoos vet advocates the use of surplus zoo animals in medical experimentation. Polar bears and other animals at numerous zoos have died from swallowing foreign objects thrown into their enclosures. A veterinary error during surgery caused the death of a giraffe at the Columbus Zoo. No matter how natural zoo enclosures may appear they never come close to accommodating the powerful needs and instincts of the wild animals they imprison. Animals in zoos are generally denied natural behaviors such as flying swimming running hunting climbing foraging scavenging and partner selection. Every aspect of their lives is manipulated and controlled. The neurotic behaviors caused by the boredom and stress of captivity compulsive pacing circling rocking headrolling overgrooming vomiting and selfmutilation are easily documented at any zoo you go to. Zoos began as menageries when few people traveled to “exotic” places before wildlife videos existed and before we knew of the amazing intelligence and behavioral needs of wild animals. We no longer have any excuse for keeping intelligent social animals in cages.

  • roxanne says:

    But already one couple has filed a 10 million dollar lawsuit against the Bronx Zoo. what a joke they are trying to make quick money at the expense of the animals. I don’t care for zoos either but not all zoos are equal. Some are actually humane as possible. but I don’t see any purpose for having a zoo. It does not teach children anything. These animals are not in their natural habitat. Perhaps it make teaches children about incarceration but the animals are innocent.

  • Jeanette Rodriguez says:

    S.Q has a very good point. We need to focus on the captivity of wild animals in circuses and petting zoos that confine and use wild animals all for people’s amusement and rides!! People especially children have a distorted vision of wild animal life when they go to these atrocities. Just as this person has shown a good perspective of zoo life let’s learn a little more on the true reality of abuse that is the circus!!! Help support animalfree circuses.

  • NT says:

    Hopefully this was a “lightbulb” moment for these people when they got to experience being stuck in a tiny cage for a while themselves.

  • melissa v says:

    AHAHAHA! awesome! although its not funny about the kids who were stuck there.

  • S.Q. says:

    Although some zoos are better than others zoos aren’t horrible in general. I have been able to see some of the great care zoo keepers give to their animals. Zoos are great because they allow preservation of endangered species and cross breeding between zoos has allowed species to come back from the brink. They also offer programs to teach people about wild animals and how we can help them. Handson lessons teach children early on about animals. Zoo keepers aren’t animal abusers. They’re not teenagers looking for after school jobs. They are highly trained professionals who are experienced and love what they do. It takes many years to become one and it’s not easy peasy. If you get rid of zoos you lose a valuable resource for learning and species preservation. What you essentially want to do id completely separate humans and animals. Many zoos have great animal enclosures vets and care. The point is to try to mimic the animal’s natural environment as much as possible. They don’t just throw them into a steel cage and say ‘there’s your new home.’ Honestly not everything is animal abuse and cruelty. And not all animals are claustrophobes who hear the call of the wild every day and want to be set free on the savanna. If they did they’d contantly be lashing out at people and not eating and trying to escape. Zoo animals pretty much like their home better than being out in the wild to forage for their own food and risk death and disease. Lions are lazy. When they’re not hunting their sleeping and generally laying around. You’re not an animal you don’t know what they feel. It takes an expert to properly research and examine animal behaviour and habits. Not a blogger looking to stir some emotions. If you wanna know how the animals feel ask a zoo keeper. Welcome to the big world.

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