North Texas Daily

Maybe we shouldn’t have zoos

Maybe we shouldn’t have zoos

Maybe we shouldn’t have zoos
June 08
23:35 2016

Victoria Baghaei | Staff Writer


Zoos play quite a few roles in society. They are where we take our kids to educate them on different animals in the world, and they help preserve and reintroduce endangered species.

However, they also put animals on display for our entertainment, where our kids can fall into pits and animals sometimes get shot. So the question comes to mind: Are we responsible enough to have zoos?

As I walked around the Fort Worth Zoo last weekend, I slowly started realizing the zoo was a sad place. It had been years since I last visited the zoo, so I was excited to see animals play around in their exhibits. Instead, I was met with confusion.

There were massive animals in what I consider very small enclosures. Two or three snakes were in about a gallon sized tank. About 20 penguins had a small pool to swim in. Three to four crocodiles shared a tiny tank inside the cafe.

The animals looked sad. Children beat on the glass to get the animals to respond, but they just sat there like nothing was happening.

Some people leaned over the balconies screaming at the monkeys to wave back, but the apes just continued to eat their food and payed the people no attention.

I took notice that parents were very attentive to their children, which could be attributed to the recent incident at the Cincinnati zoo, where a a gorilla was shot after a 3-year-old fell into the pit. But this tragedy also brings something else into the light: maybe we shouldn’t have zoos at all.

People became obsessed with zoos, with the gift shops, the out-of-control children beating on the glass and the water parks inside them that we lost sight of what the zoos could have been.

It is our job to fix what we broke. Putting these animals on display for the rest of their lives feels wrong, and putting them in the danger of having to be shot due to human error, again, feels even more wrong. If you had to stay in only two places for the rest of your life, with no freedom to truly move where you want, with people screaming at you every day and children beating on the glass, you would go crazy.

People came to the realization that SeaWorld was wrong thanks to the documentary Blackfish. The similarities between SeaWorld and the zoo is undeniable. Both feature animals taken from the wild or born in captivity. Zoos should be taken just as seriously as SeaWorld.

They both display animals who were either taken from the wild or breed from captivity, that are made to sit in enclosures for the rest of their lives. Some zoos have even taken a step to try and help endangered species by implementing breeding programs to regrow the populations.

But don’t fret, there are plenty of ways for you and your children to still get the ‘zoo’ experience, such as visiting wildlife sanctuaries. We can look into programs that support the rehabilitation of these species and donate to them. There isn’t truly a way for zoos to be done right, because we can never truly be sure if a child isn’t going to get away from their mother for enough time for them to climb over a fence; and we’ll never have enough room to truly accommodate and give these animals the proper amount of space.

People don’t always get what they want, so sometimes we need to learn to sacrifice for the good of something else. Here are some animal sanctuaries in Texas you can visit instead:

Featured Visual: Sam Wiggins | Staff Illustrator

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