Every child dreams of getting the chance to see a wild animal up close and personal. After reading about elephants and lions in stories and seeing them decorate a bright TV screen, what little kid didn’t grow up wishing they could live The Jungle Book?
Parents are often happy to oblige their children’s pleas to visit the zoo thinking the trip will be both fun and educational. This is where our Green Monster senses start tingling! Although many people think the zoo is an educational experience, studies have shown that children who visit the zoo demonstrate no further knowledge of conservation or understanding of the animals they observed.
Now getting to the “fun” part. While running around a big park and getting to take home 10 stuffed monkey toys might be considered fun for a little kid, there are a few other parties who would like to weigh in on the fun-factor. Namely, the animals who live at the zoo. To the untrained eye it may appear that zoo animals are content just hanging out in the zoo, but when you take a closer look, it seems these captive creatures are none-too-pleased with us! Just see for yourself…
This lion cub feels he’s been deprived of the true Simba experience. He’s seen the land he reigns over here and it’s about 17,000 times smaller than his kingdom in the wild.
Zoos give animals toys and obstacles as a form of “enrichment” to help stave off the boredom … we mean to keep the animals “mentally stimulated.”
Animals are just like people. When they’re not happy with their living conditions, they rebel!
One zoo in the UK had to ban it’s patrons from wearing animal print because it was confusing the animals. That – or just getting there hopes up.
Sloths are notorious for their “lazy” behavior. And this is when they’re in the wild filled with 1,000 trees to climb and new leaves to taste. We can only imagine the extreme level of lethargy in a sloth who only has dirt for entertainment.
Some zoos name their animals to make them seem more relatable to visitors. There is some debate as to whether doing so makes people look at these animals as “pets” or in some way more domestic than their truly wild counterparts.
Zoos try to add aspects of their animal enclosures that mimic their natural environment. Things get a little tricky when the actual environment doesn’t feel like playing along …
Although the movie Madagascar was fictional, it’s likely the tale of a great zoo escape was grounded in some truth. Animals who are sick of their enclosures escape pretty frequently. Sadly, some of the bigger animals who try to make a run for it are killed by local authorities.
If you were stuck behind metal bars and saw people running free on the other side, wouldn’t you start thinking about escaping too?
At the end of the day, no matter how many toys, treats, or puzzles we given zoo animals, nothing compares to life in the wild.
Wild animals are cute to look at, but we think that there are much more humane ways to enjoy wild animals than forcing them into cages and leaving them to ponder why.
The Better Way to Learn About Animals
Educating children about the many species we share this planet with is the key to future conservation. Zoos not only fail to teach children about wild animals, but they perpetuate the idea that these wild animals are here for our entertainment and amusement. There are many ways you can teach children about wild animals without supporting the inhumane treatment of animals. Try taking a trip to a wildlife sanctuary. It is important to remember that the animals in wildlife sanctuaries because they are unable to return to the wild after being kept as a pet or part of a roadside animal attraction. But at least in a sanctuary setting these animals are able to express their natural behaviors and interact with others of their own species. Be sure to do your research to ensure that the sanctuary is credible and not really a scheme to make money off tourists.
For more ideas on how to learn more about animals, check out this post: Skip the Circus, Marine Park, and Zoo: Here are 10 Humane Ways to Interact With Wildlife.