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A Zoo Story

Written by PETA | April 23, 2008

This was sent in by Marc Bekoff for Taylor Courtney Hobbs, anundergraduate at the University of Colorado, Boulder. As you will haveguessed from the title of this post, it’s kind of depressing. Before Istarted thinking really seriously about animal rights issues, itliterally never even occurred to me that there might be something wrongwith keeping wild animals confined in completely unnatural surroundingsfor people to gape and shout at all day, but once you start looking atit that way, a trip to the zoo feels more like a horrorshow than a funfamily outing. More on the topic here.

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  • dortsering says:

    I do not support zoo. It is wrong. It is human treating other living species lower than themselves and its wrong. How would you feel if higher living species came and kept us in their zoo for their amusement. Wake up, we are much better than this.

  • Sachi says:

    Taylor Nelson totally agree! I live right next to the Toronto Zoo and am also a zoological student so I spend a lot of time with behind the scenes studying. The zoo is huge and literally takes 3+ days to properly go through because each group gets a giant enclosure. Not everything is perfect but because the zoo works together with many other accredited zoos and constantly rebuilds areas and are primarily for conservation they’re always working to improve. And the birds have free range of the park. i’m not up for zoos in general but the toronto zoo is definitely a good example of nature management. Helps that the rouge is also a strict conservation area

  • Bobby says:

    i like the zoo it has animals there!

  • paris says:

    I would just like to say that I live in Canada and I am a zoo member at the Toronto Zoo which I believe is a great zoo. They have conservation projects do not allow their animals to overbreed great enclousures etc. I’ve had the chance to speak with zookeepers and also go behind the scenes into a staff only area where I got to meet some of the zoos snakes. All the things about the Toronto Zoo are great and I highly reccomend visiting it! In fact speaking of over populating zoos the Toronto Zoo had recently recieved two baby Boa Constrictors that they had not requested and were not warned that they were going to be delivered. But as I’ve read in previous articles PETA suggests that these unwanted animals will be sold or killed. Well the Toronto Zoo is making room for their new arrivals and in the mean time providing them with excellent care. I just want to say that not all zoos are awful places some do what they are purposed to do and I think that these zoos are an important part of our community. On another note Marineland in Niagara Falls Ontario is an awful place from what I’ve seen and heard from others who have actually worked there you should not support them.

  • Taylor Nelson says:

    who ever gets this well I hope you follow it I just cant under stand why you are so wiked to animals what is the difference if you bete a animal then what is stoping you to hert a humane being I hope you will tack this in mind.

  • Patricia Visciglio de DIAZ says:

    Que pasa que hay tantas ORGANIZACIONES protectoras de animales donde estan las leyes que amparan a los animales?Como es que AUN no se pueden prohibir todos los negocios y sobre todo los ZOOLOGICOS.Acaso las ORG hacen la vista gorda y todo es una mentira? Si se lucha tanto como es que siguen los ZOOlos CIRCOS? Atte. desde ARGENTINA Y BRASIL.

  • Maya, CVT says:

    Amy Hi! Nice to meet a fellow wildlife lover! I totally agree with you that some zoos take in non releaseable wildlife and I think that’s the way all zoos should be it’s wonderful. However as I earn my master’s degree in biology I am learning that reintroduction and breeding in captivity does more harm than good. Let me explain why. 1. The animals bred in captivity are not born with the immune systems they need to survive in the wild. They get sick and spread diseases to entire populations. This happened in Yellowstone 47 wolf pups died from parvovirus after adults were released there. 2. The reintroduced animals are serious competition for the native wildlife and it disrupts the ecosystem. For example reintroduced wolves attack prey that have not seen pack predators for generations. These prey have no idea how to evade a pack animal and it puts endangered species at risk. 3. The biggest problem is that they are spending millions of dollars to release animals in fragmented habitats. They claim that lynx have no territories left and are going extinct. So what do they do? Do they save the habitat that’s left? No they release hundreds of lynx into an area that has been proven to be inadequate for the lynx that were there in the first place. Not surprisingly the released lynx were shot by angry farmers hit by cars starved etc because they didn’t solve the original problems of habitat loss. I think this is an important issue and I’m glad we’re discussing it. Your input is welcome.

  • Amy says:

    I support much of what PETA does but I disagree with the organization’s position on zoos. I think the position is underinformed and neglects essential conservation efforts and successes achieved by zoos. Many people do not know what zoos do to promote biodiversity. The most endangered animals in the world are often located in zoos and zoos worldwide coordinate the mating of these animals to maintain and increase the biodiversity of these species. PETA seems to be opposed to breeding in zoos but this is absolutely essential to the survival of many endangered species. Furthermore many of the animals housed in zoos were rescued from much worse situations such as the international trade of exotic animals. Many of these animals as well as the animals that are born and raised in zoos could not survive in the wild because of past trauma habitat destruction or because they did not grow up with a “normal” life in the wild. Sometimes certain animals can be “taught” how to survive in the wild and are released but most often a “wild” life is just impossible for animals in zoos. This isn’t necessarily the zoo’s fault for many of the animals in the zoo the zoo is offering them a much better life than what they had before. PETA belittles the educational value of zoos which is unfair. I had great experiences in zoos as a child and this directly led to the development of my environmentalist ethos. PETA emphasizes compassion towards animals and zoos offers an opportunity for people to develop this with animals. For many people zoos are as close to nature as they get. Yes animals are mistreated in some zoos and historically have been understimulated and confined in very small enclosures. But there are many zoos out there that do a fabulous job of taking care of their animals and these zoos deserve our support. Furthermore these zoos have started a trend to improve the lives of animals in all zoos. PETA says that we should support habitat conservation efforts as an alternative to supporting zoos. And we should support habitat conservation! But zoos deserve our support as well because biodiversity conservation needs and the needs to educate the pubic are enormous and immediate. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a good resource for learning about the positive things zoos do as well as finding some of the best zoos in the country. So I say support zoos that are treating their animals well have a focus on education and promote conservation through breeding programs the increase biodiversity in endangered animals. Rather than boycotting zoos altogether I think PETA should target specific zoos that abuse or neglect animals and encourage zoos to do all they can to promote conservation.

  • GreenGirl says:

    I agree. Zoos can be educational and benefit to the society. However caging perfectly healthy animals for tourist to gape at animals made for the wild is no better than caging convicted criminals. Support wild animal conservations where injured animals can still roam in a large natural habitat! Do NOT support zoos

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Just for a momentary satisfaction of our curiosity we deprive them of their lives.

  • mandy says:

    I can’t blame people for going to zoos. It’s amazing to see the incredible animals. However I know that’s a selfish thing to do. I feel horrible for these animals. When I drive home from school there is a “petting zoo” in Urichsville Ohio I can’t find information on it but it’s right off route 250 that has a cougar in a tiny enclosure. Dogs are in small cages. “Puppys” are sold and probably are milled or at least not socialized in their cages where it’s bigger than a puppy mill. The only zoo inhabitant I can legitimately see in zoos are those that were wounded and stand very little chance of survival if put into the wild. I do not agree with taking perfectly healthy and happy animals and sticking them in zoos. It makes me sad to think of it.

  • Maya, CVT says:

    Jack you make such a good point that most people never DO feel that it’s wrong because they never have time to think about it. Plus it’s made worse by the fact that the public are surrounded by zoo ads that not only make it seem like a life of luxury the zoos ALSO credit themselves for SAVING ENDANGERED SPECIES!! It’s such a load of crap. I can tell you from having worked at a zoo the only good zoos are more like sancutaries where the animals there are not bred but are rescues from wildlife rehabbers. The animals there had permanently broken wings or other problems that made them unreleaseable. Even then keeping zoo animals clean and happy is a never ending battle. I wish all but just a few rescue zoos could be shut down. but DON’T BE DEPRESSED we got the word out about neutering and fur we can get the word out about this too just keep on speaking out!

  • Judith, Freedom Fighter for Animals says:


  • Deanna says:

    I hate zoos I would’nt ever take my children to one even though they begged I sat them down and made them understand why we should’nt go because it was’nt fair to the animals to be locked up like that now that they are grown they said they would never take thier children either.

  • Bailey says:

    This is horrible and unbearable to watch.. I don’t understand how people can feel right about keeping these lively animals captive.. leaving them depressed and with no will to live freely.

  • Isobelle says:

    Wow. This really opened my eyes Is this the same with open range zoos?

  • Jenny says:

    I just sat and cried as I watched that. Incredibly depressing… I have lived in CO my whole life and I believe that is the Denver Zoo… I have there SOOOOO many times when I was younger and now I will never be able to look at it the same. All those happy memories as a kid seem like a sham.

  • lizc says:

    most people think ‘it’s a nice day out.. let’s go to the zoo’.. but for the inhabitants of that place.. it’s a daily predictable boring and v. monotonous existence.. not to mention having to put up wiht relentless battery of curious eyes and pointing fingers.. are we any nearer phasing out and for good these cruel gawping shows of wild animals? and the same goes for circuses too ..becuase if not.. then it’s about darned or as Jack woudl say ‘.. ‘Frickin’ time!!!!! if it means less suffering on part of animals imprisoned in zooscircuses. then I for one.. would happily forgoe this sort of ‘entertainment’ and have them ALL banned once and for all.. forever.. in any case it’s far more educational watching a wild animal in it’s natural habitat getting up to all it’s tricks than watching one morose unhappy bored and miserable wild animal pacing up and down up and down in its cramped enclosure.. what do you learn from gawping at a miserable animal?. exactly nothing!.. best to watch Discovery Channel or National Geography instead.. zoos are antiquated.. a thing of the past.. the sooner they were all phased out for good..the better!..

  • Kat says:

    This is all from the Denver Zoo allegedly one of the “Nicest” and most “modern” zoos around. It is also the 2nd largest and most visited in the country. As a former employee regrettably I can tell you that this video barely scratches the surface of that abysmal place.

  • Cali says:

    That hurts

  • Annalena says:

    The animals in zoos are so sad.In my city we have a wolf enclosure that is about the size of my living room. There were two male wolves but recently the other wolf died and the other poor old wolf is left alone in stagnation. I was heartbroken that the “zoo” recently obtained two new wolf pups to replace them. I cry to know that they will find the same fate as the former wolves an false life with no joy only boredom and arthritis never running or hunting. The zoo also recently obtained two baby cougars and adult Siberian Tigers that pace obsessively all day. It disgusts me to hear the conversations of the people at the zoo. Parents throw object at the animals to make them move or do something “cool” for the kids. Education at most Zoos is a sham parents teach the kids that the wolves and tigers are puppies and kittens and the staff know very little about their quarry. A grown man called an African Grey parrot a “stupid duck”. Some of the animals are sold to the zoo from hunting trips that have made them orphans. Most of the enclosures are pitifully small. I wish the animals could at least go to sanctuaries that really care about meeting their specific needs. There is no point in a “conservation breeding program” if none of the animals are put back into the wild. The zoo here even locks up squirells badgers and other healthy local animals to draw in the crowds. One squirrell violently beats his head against the cage walls and people get a real kick out of it. I feel especially sorry for the raptors with clipped wings that will never fly.

  • Ana says:

    Only convicted criminals belong in prisons. Zoos are just horrible!!! Don’t visit them. Unfortunately schools continue to take young children there and give them the wrong impression that this ia a normal state for the other animals to live in. Educate others especially children about the cruelty of zoos. This is just another manmade enterprise where animals suffer and humans make money. Don’t forget about the poor older animals that are sold to canned hunts from these very zoos. And then if their numbers increase and prove not to be beneficial some are shot and killed and others are sent to vivisectors. Depressing!

  • Carla says:

    WOW!! Going to the zoo makes me want to do the Jim Carrie thing on Ace Ventura Pet Detective!! But the only difference is that these animals are still alive and there’s no escape!!