Categories: Zoos

Coronavirus is an opportunity to close zoos

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in lockdowns which are being lifted at various paces in various places. Many zoos face bankruptcy with the risk of thousands of animals having to be put down if they are not allowed to be opened. In the UK, Boris Johnson will say today that zoos will be allowed to open from Monday next.

Lahore Zoo is meant to be good but look at this lousy cage. Enough to drive a tiger mad. Picture in public domain.

The Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La, USA is (was) a classic example of cruel captive animal exploitation. There are thousands of private zoos in the US. Feeble attempts of captive animal husbandry bereft of morality.

However, the coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity to change the concept of captive animals. Zoos are controversial. They are an idea whose time has come and gone according to PETA and I agree with them. There are benefits and downsides to zoos but the downsides outstrip the benefits. There are better ways to learn about animals. Zoos exploit animals if we are honest. They present the image that they are concerned with education and conservation. Yes, they are but their primary concern is making a profit and entertaining the public. This primary objective undermines the secondary objectives: conservation and education.

A lot of things could change after the coronavirus pandemic for the better but I have a sneaking feeling that they won’t because humans tend to revert to bad habits. It’s in our character, our DNA. We shouldn’t have zoos at all in the 21st century. Surely we can do better?

The zoos in northern Europe and America are high quality (but still very dubious) but hundreds of zoos in less well developed countries are terrible. The animals are treated cruelly. Many countries around the world have no laws to protect captive animals. Even in America there is no requirement for captive animals to walk on grass and live in enclosures where there is natural vegetation. The federal Animal Welfare Act in America is a rather poor piece of legislation. And we’re talking about a highly developed nation where animal welfare should be dealt with to a high standard. Not the case I’m afraid.

What can we expect, therefore, in Third World countries? We can expect terrible conditions, exploitation, no education, animals going insane because of the poor conditions under which they are confined. Amd wars which end up killing animals in their ghastly cages. What has it come to? It’s a chance to get rid of zoos but it won’t happen. There is no where near enough enlightened, bold, courageous and ethical thinking. It is narrow-minded and profit orientated.

If zoos were closed the thousands of animals within them should not be “put down” as threatened but allowed to live out their lives in a sanctuary or if possible relocated to the wild (unlikely). Humankind should take the opportunities presented by the coronavirus pandemic to make the world a better place for our captive animals. Time is short to do it. Let’s see some action in the right direction.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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