Prisons In Disguise?

Are zoos and aquariums a method of conservation or a prison for animals?

The act of caging animals has been around since the Ancient Egypt era and still prevails today. The question is; how animal friendly is it?

One of the questions in The Omega Tree’s Survey was “Are zoos and aquariums a method of conservation or a prison for animals?”, and the responses were quite varied.

Some felt that zoos were indeed a method of conservation for threatened species.

Kailesh from class 10 said, ‘A method of conservation, because today's world has changed a lot and it will be impossible for those species to survive.’

Yes, the world has certainly developed vastly from the stone age, but however human activities change for the good or the bad, fauna adapts accordingly. Studies show that more mammals are turning nocturnal to avoid humans. In fact, mammals have increased their nighttime activity to 68%. Even though animals go out on their way to avoid humans, there’s a reason the list of endangered animals keeps growing - Habitat loss, pollution, and population growth and so many more dangers are hurled at wildlife. Hence the purpose of zoos as a method of conservation.

However, others believed otherwise.

Nirupama Ma’am said, ‘Animals need to live in their natural habitat to not get controlled by humans because they feel they are superior.’

Our control over animals has definitely crossed a line. There are so many reports of animal welfare groups for mistreating animals, like making them perform circus stunts and giving elephant rides.

Animals being caged show common behaviors, like constantly walking in circles, biting the bars, or hugging their legs. Some organizations don't even use their revenue for conservation. Captivity suppresses the natural instincts of wild animals, and they cannot be treated as objects.

One response rather summed up what zoos exactly are.

Durga from class 10 said, ‘I feel that it depends on the motive of the organizations as there are some zoos /aquariums where they take injured animals to take care of them and release them after they are treated, while there are other organizations where they capture, cage and train animals to do various tricks to entertain the public for money.’

There are definitely responsible zoos and aquariums that exist to promote the conservation of animals and rehabilitate harmed animals. They use genuine breeding programs and initiate countless missions to preserve genetic biodiversity, and then reintroduce endangered species into the wild.

In fact, the Arabian Oryx, from the Arabian Peninsula, was almost extinct, until The Phoenix Zoo started breeding and reintroduction programs, which ultimately caused the birth of more than 200 calves from just nine individuals. The species is now removed from the endangered species list.

To conclude, the wellbeing of fauna really relies on an organization’s intentions. Is it to conserve them, or to gain profit?

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