Are Zoo Animals Wild

Bob Roberts
• Friday, 23 October, 2020
• 9 min read

This unique online series offers perspective, education and solutions to major challenges in wildlife conservation and global health. Successful conservation efforts begin with education, empathy and wise consumer choices.

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(Source: www.youtube.com)


Avoid elephant ivory, rhino horn, turtle shell and all other trafficked wildlife. Every year, millions of people go on safaris, board whale -watching cruises and watch Jeff Cor win get attacked by snakes on Animal Planet; others drive to their local zoo for a full day of animal gazing.

Later, in early 13th-century England, Henry III moved his family's royal menagerie to the Tower of London for public viewing. For a small fee, visitors would be treated to glimpses of animals like lions, camels and lynxes.

And if they brought a dog or cat to feed the lions, they got in for free . The first modern zoo -- the Imperial Menagerie in Vienna, Austria -- was established in 1752 and continues to attract visitors to this day.

Nearby, in Germany, is the world's largest animal collection: Zoo Berlin (formerly The Berlin Zoological Gardens) houses more than 15,000 animals from almost 1,700 species . All U.S. animal exhibitors, like the 265-acre (107-hectare) Bronx Zoo just a subway ride away from Fifth Avenue, must apply for and receive a license from the Department of Agriculture.

Millions of people visit the thousands of zoos around the world, proving that we simply never grow tired of observing wildlife. Depending on your point of view, though, zoos are either sanctuaries of education and entertainment or unnecessary prisons.

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(Source: www.dartmoorzoo.org.uk)

While some people argue that zoos play an important role in conservation and research, others counter that they do more harm than good. Adding another point for zoo pros, the procedure for acquiring animals has also changed.

Some breeding programs also help to restore threatened species. After 10 years of working to strengthen the population numbers of the endangered California condor, a type of vulture, the Los Angeles and San Diego zoos were able to rebuild a population of fewer than two dozen birds to around 170 birds .

Successful breeding programs brought the Père David's deer back from extinction. Though this Asian deer ceased to exist in the wild, Chinese and European zoo programs enabled four of the deer to be released back into the wild in 1985, where they're now self-sustaining .

The cub, Leo, now spends his time frolicking and chasing small animals that wander into his enclosure . And although zoo animals aren't treated quite like guests at a four-star hotel, their care has improved tremendously.

Zookeepers now understand that many animals, such as monkeys, bears and elephants, need engaging activities to prevent boredom and mental deterioration. This is why you'll often see chimps playing with toys or tigers “hunting” for a meal.

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The Toledo Zoo, in conjunction with the Nature Conservancy, is helping to restore butterfly habitats in Ohio, and the Bronx Zoo has channeled more than $3 million toward conservation projects in Central Africa . The information they gather helps them to develop new medicines and techniques to improve animal health .

Beyond the positive impact zoos try to have on animals, they often affect the people visiting as well. With a variety of programs geared toward children and adults, zoos teach people about the needs of animals and the importance of conservation.

And if people get excited enough, the thinking goes that they'll be more inclined to donate money to conservation efforts -- another zoo pro. Until the Alaska Zoo finally caved in to public pressure in 2007, Maggie was forced to spend days on end in a small indoor enclosure because of the frigid outside temperatures.

Perhaps as a form of protest, she refused to use the elephant-sized treadmill the zoo brought in to encourage her to exercise . Even in optimal conditions, some experts contend, it's incredibly difficult to provide for the needs of animals like elephants.

If Maggie and her captive compatriots lived in the wild, they would wander as much as 30 miles (48 kilometers) a day in large groups, grazing on leaves and stopping to splash in the occasional watering hole. Zebras at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. starved to death because of insufficient or incorrect food, and the same zoo's red pandas died after ingesting rat poison .

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And while many zoos, like those in the United States, are supposed to at least meet the minimum requirements spelled out in documents like the Animal Welfare Act, standards aren't always adequate or enforced . While conditions have improved from the years of bars and cages, detractors take issue with other items.

Although the natural-looking habitats are certainly more attractive, people like David Hancock's, a zoo consultant and former zoo director, describe them as mere illusions, arguing that they're not much of an improvement in terms of space . Indeed, many captive animals exhibit signs of severe distress: People have witnessed elephants bobbing their heads, bears pacing back and forth and wild cats obsessively grooming themselves .

Despite a zoo's best efforts, its animals often are deprived of privacy, confined to inadequate spaces and unable to engage in natural hunting and mating activities. Forced to live in artificial constructs, many animals succumb to what some people refer to as psychosis, the display of obsessive, repetitive behaviors .

In addition, many animals have precise needs that zookeepers are just beginning to understand. Some, like the aardvark, survive on a limited diet that zoos have a hard time fulfilling; others thrive only in certain temperatures and environments that aren't easy to recreate.

Of 145 reintroduction programs carried out by zoos in the last century, only 16 truly succeeded in restoring populations to the wild . According to one study, many visitors don't pay much attention to the animals -- they're actually talking to each other about unrelated things and spending only a few minutes at each display .

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(Source: dinaswildlifeadventures.blogspot.com)

Harris’s hawks live in family groups in the wild, so Cisco gets along with his keepers very well, but it takes a while for him to accept someone new. He was raised by a company that trains birds-of-prey to scare off smaller birds that eat crops.

Pap is a curious and feisty young owl who hatched here at Woodland Park Zoo in 2018. His name means “burrowing owl” in a dialect of the Yakima tribes of Eastern Washington.

Lola used to work on a blueberry farm, chasing away birds who ate the crops, but she wanted to hang out with the farmers instead of doing her job! Although she likes people and demonstrating her amazing flying abilities, Lola can be quite protective of her territory, the Wildlife Theater.

MOOC enjoys working with veteran zookeepers and can show how adept he is at recycling (putting items in bins). When both of these flamingos were abandoned as eggs in 2016, keepers at Woodland Park Zoo stepped in to hatch and rear them.

The flamingos regularly follow their keepers around zoo grounds for exercise and leg strengthening. He likes to eat dead mice and quail, and he loves it when his keepers give him head scratches.

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(Source: www.pinterest.com)

Flick was at the National Aquarium, where he made it clear that he did not like living with other birds, so he became an Ambassador Animal at Woodland Park Zoo in 2015. Sometimes during training, he purposely chose to do the direct opposite of what a keeper asks for, and then “laughs” with pride.

Cree loves to fly loops around the Wildlife Theater, sometimes soaring close to unsuspecting guests as they walk past. Luckily someone took him to a rehabilitation facility where he recovered except for permanent blindness in his left eye.

Although he’s blind in one eye, he can still demonstrate natural raptor hunting behavior by flying and catching stuffed squirrels on the ground. Almost every kid grows up with memories of visiting the zoo with their grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or their school.

In a forest they would be too reclusive, and the beautiful Masai Mara or the Amazon rainforests are simply too expensive for some of us, and this where zoos step in. Most breeding programs are unsuccessful due to the unnatural settings as well as the stress that the animals are forced to reproduce in.

The animals existing in zoos now, are the lineage of once- wild animals that were captured and then thrown into an enclosed space. Their natural instincts to search for a mate, reproduce, defend territory, search for food and water (in case of predatory animals, the ability to hunt), and travel great distances all diminish, and having been repressed, make these animals unfit for return to the wild.

(Source: www.youtube.com)

But the truth is, other than lazing around or showing signs of psychosis, these animals just do not exhibit natural behaviors in an enclosure. In most zoos, educational boards are placed near the front of the enclosures so that the public can read little facts about them.

At Steve Irwin’s famous Australia Zoo, a senior trainer with nine years of experience was hospitalized after being bitten on the neck and shoulder by one of the tigers he had raised since it was a cub. Her second attack resulted in her being shot to death after she escaped her enclosure and fatally mauled a zoo visitor, contrary to reports that she was provoked by two friends of the victim.

Some exposed conditions in the documentary were horrible living conditions, untreated as well as dead animals at the Twiddle Farm Zoo, lions in small locked enclosures at Woburn Safari Park, and white lion cubs being provided to a circus animal trainer from Midland Safari Park. The National Zoo in Washington, DC has also shown severe lapses in animal care according to a report from December 2013, in which zoo insiders told CBS that “that problems began last year when the zoo decided to double the population of the cheetah exhibit, adding a half dozen new species but no extra space.” These problems included a zebra attack on a veteran zookeeper, two animals breaking their necks after running into barriers, and multiple animal injuries, escapes and deaths.

It just seems that no matter how many zoos design their enclosures to mimic a natural habitat, animals just can’t deal with living in confinement. A New Scientist report titled “No Way Out” about this stereotypical behavior says that, “An estimated 80 million captive animals worldwide perform bizarre, repetitive rituals, known as stereotypes.

Animal behavior experts trying to work out why note that the movements often seem prompted by frustration-carnivores pace their boundaries as if to escape, voles jump against their cage roofs and pigs root fruitlessly at concrete floors.” Some larger species are prone to suffer more than others, according to a New York Times article, which lists polar bears, lions, tigers, and cheetahs as animals that zoos should “stop keeping them altogether”.

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(Source: wallpapershome.com)

An example of this suffering in larger herbivorous animals is Billy the elephant, who stood alone in his small enclosure and bobbed his head repeatedly up and down shifting his weight from one foot to the other. There was even a “Help Billy” site which was started to halt construction of a new elephant exhibit and, according to the petition, an LA judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

What’s more, a number of zoos have very highly paid employees despite the fact that they’re supposedly most interested in conserving animal species. According to Philly Magazine, The Philadelphia Zoo paid its retiring head a fat sum of $340,000 when he left his job.

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