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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 Shows Us How Not to Teach Kids About Animals”

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Mary Garcia
4 Months Ago

He's speaking to the child


Reply
Tink Callan
4 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$.


Reply
Kate Gourley
4 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.


Reply
Krista Maes
4 Months Ago


Reply
Jenna Deuel
4 Months Ago

I have always been against Zoos and Ciruses


Reply
Nic Kersten
4 Months Ago

NO


Reply
Nicole Roberti
4 Months Ago

Paul Roberti


Reply
Taylor Marie
4 Months Ago

Think about it this way for a minute: yeah that bear was probably born in a zoo but if you released it right now it would die because it doesn't know how to survive in the wild. Also, think about it from that child's perspective, this kid in the photo is having a once in a lifetime experience right now. Who's to say this child won't remember this experience and in 15 years won't grow up to be a wildlife biologist? I saw bears in my local zoo when I was a child. I grew up watching Steve Erwin play with crocodiles and snakes as a child. Now I'm 2 months away from graduating college with a degree in wildlife biology. I'm gonna spend the next 30 years of my life working to keep the free animals that are in the wild safe and helping to grow their populations. I go to a school that is specifically designed for this sort of work. It's called SUNY ESF in Syracuse NY and I could ask anyone hear and they would say the exact same thing I am. Zoos rock and without them, this already relatively small field would shrink into nonexistence.


Reply
Linda Dorcely
4 Months Ago

I never liked zoos even as a child.


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Suzi Corby Foster
4 Months Ago

It's absolutely horrifying


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