Today I read a newspaper story about how at a California zoo, a lion escaped from a small cage and killed a young zoo worker who was cleaning up nearby. Apparently he killed her instantly by hitting her head with his paw, breaking her neck. I feel sorry for the young woman who died; her father told the news reporters that she loved big cats. But I also feel sorry for Cous Cous (that's what the zoo people called the lion), who was shot "after the animal couldn't be coaxed away from [the woman's] body." [ link ]
his is interesting: "Officials at another big cat sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Fla., told The Associated Press last year that at least 21 people, including five children, have been killed and 246 mauled by exotic cats in the United States since 1990. Over that period, 254 cats escaped and 143 were killed." [ link ] 267 people getting mauled or killed is awful. But this is also awful for all those big cats, even the ones who somehow managed to escape without getting shot. Are they still alive? What are they eating now?
Zoos as we know them should be abolished. Big cats and lots of other animals I know don't want to live in animal prisons.
eople argue that zoos are educational. But lots of things are educational. I'm sure visiting a functioning slave-plantation would also have lots of "educational value". But I don't hear lots of people saying "We should have that!"
Other people say that zoos do important work like saving endangered animals from extinction. That's great, people absolutely should do that kind of work, especially since human beings are often the reason why so many animals are extinct or barely clinging to survival in the first place. But why is a zoo such a great format for this kind of work? People think helping refugees of war or victims of famine is important too, but we don't have exhibition-style zoos for them to live in while they "receive help". If you wanted children to think more deeply about how important it is to have love and compassion for their elders, what would be the best way to accomplish this? Would it be to make them pay money to watch a few representative old people for a few minutes getting fed or having their diapers changed?
Animals are awesome and I can understand why people like to look at us. But this isn't a good enough justification for captivity; it's just a convenient excuse for not having to come up with more imaginative solutions to problems that concern animals. And when people are unimaginative usually animals or plants or the environment are always the ones who have to suffer the biggest consequences.
f you really want to educate people to love and respect animals, there are thousands of better ideas than zoos. Which reminds me - I also don't like animal theme-parks like Sea World, which I went to one time just to see what it was about. It was horrible, like if you paid money for the privilege of going into a prison to see what poor people are really like, behind the safety of bars. Stupid, stupid idea.
Posted by Kim.