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The Painful Experiences of Animals in The Zoos

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Zoos: Behind the Bars

Imagine a wild animal, for example an elephant. It has all the freedom in the world. Suddenly, the elephant is trapped and taken away from its family. It is put in a small crate, unable to move, starving, and alone for what seems like years. When the elephant is finally let out, all it can see are cage bars and children looking at the elephant as if it were wallpaper. There are over 2,000 zoos, just in America. The animals are not from America, and have been taken from their natural habitats. Some people think zoos are entertaining and help preserve endangered animals. However, this is how they are becoming endangered, because they are in the zoos. Zoos are inhumane because animals have to suffer to get to zoos, they are uncared for at zoos, and they are unable to live life naturally.

First of all, animals have to suffer before they even arrive at the zoo. According to Born Free USA,“many are captured from their native habitat and smuggled in or legally imported.” Traffickers take animals out of their homes and harm them, even though it is illegal. They are using the animals to get money. Born Free USA also stated, “Trafficking in rare and exotic wildlife is a global business, worth 10-20 billion (dollars) annually.” Trafficking has gotten big and it is not good for the animals. For example, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) wrote, “parrots might have their beaks and feet taped and be stuffed into plastic tubes that can be easily hidden in luggage.” The parrot could suffocate in the tubes and experience great pain. The pain for the animals starts way before they get to the zoo.

In addition to the pain while getting to the zoo, the animals are uncared for once finally reaching the zoo. PETA wrote, “precious funds that should be used to provide more humane conditions for animals are often squandered on cosmetic improvements- such as landscaping, refreshment stands, and gift shops- in order to draw visitors.” The money should be benefitting the animals, by getting nice living spaces, lots of food, and being protected from destructive visitors, since they are the ones attracting customers. PETA also reported that zoo compartments are “tiny, filthy, barren enclosures.” If the animals have awful living conditions, how will they not be in danger? While talking about zoo animals getting injured in their cells, Christian Draper, a program manager on captive wild animals at Born Free USA stated, “responsible facilities would do their best to absolutely minimize these things. However, some are irresponsible and that can lead the animal to becoming injured.” The animals are not cared for at zoos, and that greatly affects the animals.

Finally, the animals are unhappy at zoos. PETA stated, “animals are closely confined, lack privacy, and have extremely limited possibilities for mental stimulation or physical exercise.” The animals are unable to live a “normal” wild animal’s life. Instead of running loose, finding food for itself, and making its own choices, the animals has to sit still, behaved, and wait until they are given food, even if they are hungry before that time. PETA’s surveys have shown that 88% of animals at zoos become depressed, lonely, or anxious, causing their life span to be shorter. Sociologist Eric Jensen did a study and discovered that captive elephant’s lives are 17 to 39 years shorter. PETA again wrote, “some have reportedly even committed suicide by choosing to stop breathing or by slamming their heads against the walls.” The animals feel so unhappy with their lives at the zoo that they would rather die. The animals are very unhappy at zoos and are unable to live naturally.

In conclusion, zoos are cruel because animals are smuggled in the process, the animals are neglected at the zoo, and the animals are not fond of being at the zoo at all. Our local zoo, Franklin Park Zoo, made $7,000,000 in 2014, just from admission, and has been in business for 103 years. So you may ask, if they make so much money and have not been shut down, why is it so bad? Others may argue zoos present a safe way to observe wildlife. There are other safe ways, like videos on YouTube and television channels such as Animal Planet. As for an answer for zoo’s success, it may not harm us, the humans, but it does harm the animals.

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