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Zoos have often justified keeping animals in captivity by claiming that it helps to educate children about animals’ natural behavior, and also inspires them to take action toward conserving the animals’ natural habitat. However, a great deal of doubt has been cast over these claims in recent years. Lori Marino, executive director at the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy (KCAA) said, “There is no current evidence, from well-controlled studies in the peer-reviewed literature, supporting the argument that captive animal displays are educational or promote conservation in any meaningful sense.”

It is difficult to convince kids that animals are worthy of human respect when they are in a zoo or marine park that presents the animals as objects to be displayed for our amusement. In this type of environment, it is easy for a child (or indeed, an adult) to feel as though they are entitled to deprive the animal of sleep or privacy and demand to be “entertained.” A recent study of visitor attitudes at four U.S. zoos confirmed this. It found that 86 percent of visitors go to the zoo for “social or recreational purposes,” while only six percent go there in order to learn more about animals.

In addition, the animal behaviors that kids typically witness in a zoo are highly unlikely to be “natural.” The enforced suppression of captive animals’ highly developed instincts to travel, seek out mates, find their own food, and experience natural family bonds often causes them to engage in repetitive or self-destructive behaviors.

Captive elephants have often been seen bobbing their heads and wobbling from side to side, while other animals have been observed excessively grooming themselves, vomiting, self-harming, or engaging in sudden outbursts of aggression. In moments of extreme stress, captive orcas have even been known to kill one another and their human handlers. This phenomenon is known as zoochosis. The use of Valium, Prozac and other mood-altering medication, as an attempt to reduce such behavior, is rampant in captive animal facilities. With all that being said, does a zoo really sound like the best place for a child to learn about how we should treat animals?

This picture, posted on Imgur, summarizes the sadness of the entire situation.

Sad Photo of a Child Meeting a Captive Bear Shows us That This is NOT How Kids Should Experience Animals

 

 

It is clear that the child in the bear suit idolizes these animals and was, no doubt, thrilled at the prospect of getting to meet one up close. However, the poignant sight of the bear languishing in an enclosure that can never hope to replicate their natural habitat  – no matter how “big” zoo officials deem it to be – makes it abundantly clear to us that this is not how the child should have met his idol. If we truly want to teach our kids how to respect the planet and all of its inhabitants, then we have to accept the fact that other animal species do not exist in order to serve or entertain humans.

To find out how you can help inspire your kids to care about wildlife and animal conservation, check out the articles below:

Image Source: legc75/Facebook



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80 comments on “Bear Gazing at a Child Through Glass Enclosure in Zoo Shows Us How Not to Teach Kids About Animals”

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Troy DePauw
1 Months Ago

Hopefully the writer os this little "story", understands that in reality people and bears can\'t have relations. EVER. Bears are predators and while they "can" be tamed by professionals over many years, Wild bears are NOT friendly.


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Ginny Nisonger
1 Months Ago

do away with zoos they dont need to be in captivity how would u like to be caged


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Chris
1 Months Ago

I hear all these objections to zoos, but I do not hear one single reply on what will replace them. What would fill their void to show children and adults the amazement of the animal kingdom? It\'s this amazement and awe that leads to respect for animals. You know how much more effective it was for me to explain to my 4 yr old why we should cut up soda bottle plastic rings when I reminded him of the saved penguin we saw at the zoo that was injured by one of those? Are zoos perfect...no, but until I hear someone come up with a better option to educate and inspire our children we will continue to support our local zoos and aquariums.


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Neal Willow
20 Jul 2016

Try videos. Free the animals.

NP
1 Months Ago

Zoos are wonderful places and very educational.. There is a great zoo in San diego and my kids love it. Who cares if a handful of animals are housed in a zoo, they provide tremendus entertainment and education to countless youths.

You are simply wrong if you think otherwise. The animals are here for us to learn from. Zoos and Seaworld are important to our society.


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Julie Cash
19 Jul 2016

Its all about you and your kids isn\'t it?

Ian
19 Jul 2016

I understand it\'s for educational reasons and entertainment but you also have to think from the perspective of the captive animals who deserve to roam free. Obviously they are showing abnormal behaviors and some require medication. It shows that they aren\'t meant to be caged. How would you feel if you were an animal imprisoned for another species entertainment and fun facts? It\'s pretty selfish not to consider how the animals are feeling. Regardless if its for education...at what cost?

Cheryl
20 Jul 2016

I, too, have visited zoos in the past. I feel that ANY animal that is deprived of their natural habitat is not "living" but languishing basically waiting to die. When you visit the zoo, are you telling your kids that this is NOT the way animals should live? Why not take them on a whale-watching cruise or to a sanctuary where they could observe the animals in a more "natural" habitat? Animals, especially those who are used to roaming great distance, are not meant to be "confined" in enclosures. How would you like to be confined to one small room of your house and be constantly bothered by someone wanting to see you do something? I doubt you would enjoy it al all! I don\'t care how "progressive" a zoo is. It\'s still no place for a wild animal!

Boris
20 Jul 2016

I would have agreed with you if I hadn\'t recently become aware of the amount of stress animals undergo in captivity. While I am sure the San Diego zoo is indeed very good, other zoos around the nation may not. I think we need to have a dialogue to develop better ways of educating the youth about animals while slowly phasing out zoos. As responsible citizens, we can no longer go on denying that animals are intelligent and suffer greatly from lack of freedom just as we do.

sonny_d
1 Months Ago

One of the worst I saw was the insanely small elephant enclosure at san diego zoo 6+ years ago or . They should not of had any if that was all the room they had. They were real unhappy looking and seemed extremely restless for elephants.


Reply
nicoles
19 Jul 2016

They have built a wonderful new enclosure for the elephants, it is incredible. I agree, the one they were in was entirely too small.

HelenL1
1 Months Ago

Are you really picking on a kid to make a point? Jerk.


Reply
Margaret
1 Months Ago

Look, obviously an animal in a zoo is not in its natural habitat and is not showing natural behavior. However, I strongly disagree that a child doesn\'t learn anything about the animal and I disagree that a child learns not to respect animals by seeing them in a zoo. As with all matters of learning and respect, those lessons lie with the parent or adult taking them to the zoo. The zoo prompts many questions, curiosities, and wonder from a child. Most of those questions can be answered by reading the information provided by the animal or these days, googling it on your phone. It should start a conversation about conservation and it\'s importance, so this isn\'t the only place we will ever be able to see these animals. I encourage all who go to the zoo to do this. I can tell you for certain, that if a child has no respect for animals, it has nothing to do with their visit to the zoo.


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Mary Garcia
6 Months Ago

He's speaking to the child


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Tink Callan
6 Months Ago

If Zoos in fact had any educational value, they would be called Animal Education Centers. But they don't provide education, and herefore they can't make the claim. This is why they are called Zoo$.


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Andrea
19 Jul 2016

Sorry, but that is incorrect. "Zoo" is short for "zoology" which is the study of animals. The first zoos were called zoological gardens because they did indeed intend to be educational (although, to be sure, what is deemed "educational" has changed dramatically since their inception.) Most modern zoos attempt to place the animals in as natural a habitat as possible. The displays usually incorporate abundant information about how the animal lives, its endangered status, and conservation efforts. Moreover, many zoos host a variety of educational programming. Lastly, people are more likely to care about the welfare and future viability of endangered species if they\'ve been introduced to it. Since most of us do not have the means to take our children on safaris deep into the wilderness, the most practical and effective way to provide that experience is through zoos and aquaria. To assert that zoos have no educational value because the animals are captive is simplistic and factually incorrect.

Kate Gourley
6 Months Ago

So sad and so cruel. Wild animals should live in their territory, not put on display for us to see. Just so fucking wrong.


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Margaret
19 Jul 2016

Yes, of course they should be set free, only to be killed by poachers or encroachment. The zoo is not the enemy.

schmo
19 Jul 2016

Go visit them in their natural environment. See how long you live.

Tarzan
19 Jul 2016

Poachers kill more animals every year than any zoo.



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