Friday, July 18, 2008

Zoo = Animal Prison

A zoo contains a variety of animals gathered in one place for the education and entertainment of the human visitors. From the animals point of view, it is a life-sentence in prison.

Although recent attempts have been made to make the prison more “homey”, it is still a prison. Animals with natural habitat measured in miles are confined to one measured in feet.

Most animals in prison soon become insane. Deprived of their natural surround, including contact with their families, they become psychotic: pacing, pulling out hair, repetitive motion and aggression are all evidence of their pitiful mental state.

Now, in a time when many zoos are realizing that elephants are highly intelligent creatures with long lives and complex family structure, and consequently reducing or eliminating their elephant inmates, one zoo wants to imprison more.

The Denver Zoo.

The Denver Zoo wants to spend $50 million to enlarge and enhance their elephant prison (next to the polluted Duck Lake). They want to add three more elephants to the two, Dolly, age 39, and Mimi, age 49, already held in life-time captivity. This insanity must be stopped.

"The Denver Zoo, like others in the United States, is under pressure to improve the living conditions of its elephants or move them elsewhere. Some critics, such as Marc Bekoff, a former biology professor at the University of Colorado, say even a roomier exhibition area that mimics the elephants' home turf is not adequate because of the complex social relationships they form in the wild.

"They're big, emotional, smart animals with phenomenal memories," Bekoff said. "You just can't plop an animal here and there and form a group. I hate to say it, but the Denver Zoo doing what major zoos have decided not to do makes absolutely no sense at all."

Craig Piper, the zoo's chief executive officer, argues that zoos can help preserve the species, both directly and by giving them public exposure that will lead to more support for conservation measures."

Call the Denver Zoo and tell them you don't want to imprison more of these intelligent animals. (303) 376-4800

P.S. And please don't think I'm an "animal rights" person. But imprisoning a sentient creature as smart (or smarter) than we are, as we do our own criminals, is itself criminal.


  1. Anonymous7:30 PM

    I notice that your post is remarkably short on links justifying your strident positions (e.g., most zoos are reducing elephant populations, elephants are as smart or smarter than humans).

    Not very persuasive, at all.

  2. Thanks for the comment. You make a valid point. I often forget, with Google just a click away, that readers may want more information served up in the post. To that end:

  3. Anonymous11:27 PM

    Elephants are as smart or smarter as humans? You have to be joking...

    1. Anonymous8:53 PM

      Yes, but Texans - they still believe in Sarah Palin. That's educationally sub-normal.

  4. Anonymous6:04 PM

    Too Far Man... Too Far

  5. Anonymous5:39 AM

    we could only wish we were as smart as every living thing in animal kingdom, instead we are ignorant and savage...the zoo is just a small example of our, well lets just call it human nature.

  6. This is true that the zoo is animals prison but it can also be there home if we provide them with natural surrounding, proper food & well medical supply. What will be more good then this that they are cared so much but unfortunately this care is missing somewhere which makes zoo as prison.

    1. A comfortable prison is still a prison, but more to the point, you surely can't believe that spaces which facilitate human viewing of captive animals' behavior can provide anywhere near the range that they are adapted to?

      Some day, maybe humans will expand their minds enough to embrace compassion for other species. As it stands now, there is virtually none. Tell me, how would you like it if an advanced species decided that they needed human specimens for their zoo, and so they took you away from your family, fed you dead food, and kept you confined in a space that was much smaller than you are used to enjoying? I'm thinking you wouldn't like it, and you'd probably have a strong sense that an injustice had been done to you. After all, you were in prison, but you'd committed no crime.