No zoos are created equal. Some a large and some are small. Some are accredited and others are not. Some are privately funded, while the majority rely on help from the visiting public and/or government funding. Some zoos do an amazing job, while others make you wish they didn’t exist. The important thing to remember is you cannot judge all zoos by the example of just one. Especially when you view it as a world wide entity.
Whether you believe in having animals in captivity or not, the fact of the matter is, I don’t see a time when animals won’t be in captivity. There’s no going back on this decision. You can’t simply walk into every zoo today and release all these animals back into the wild. Most animals in captivity today, were born into it. They simply wouldn’t survive if you just threw them back into the wild.
To be quite frank, many animals in zoos, are probably better for it. Not to mention, zoos have been an important part in preserving species. They have even brought animals on the brink of extinction, back into the wild. The California Condor remains one of the biggest
success stories of all time. In 1987, there were only 22, that’s right TWENTY TWO of them left in the wild. All of them were captured and brought to the San Diego Zoo and Los Angeles Zoo in an effort to save them. In 1991, their numbers had risen through successful captive breeding and were introduced back into the wild. The California Condor is still an endangered bird, with only 400 -500 living both in the wild and in captivity, but they could have been completely gone, if not for the efforts of local zoos.
Zoos do have an impact on the natural wildlife around the world. Many zoos help facilitate the research of these animals. Lots of information on many species has been discovered and documented all thanks to zoos and the people who work for them. Many zoos take part in preserving the natural wildlife found in their back yard. Usually, it’s something that he general public may not even care much about. Like a particular kind of fish found in a local river or an insect in the area. There’s lots that could be happening at your local zoo that you may not even be aware of. I have never been officially employed by a zoo, however, I have volunteered for 3 different zoos, my college program was also on its own zoo and I have also volunteered for 2 “sea parks” and 1 rescue and rehab center. I can tell you one thing about zoos and sea parks, many of them have some kind of rescue and rehab program. Not only are they interested in preserving the species that they house within their parks that are found from all over the world, but they also do their best at helping to preserve the wildlife found just outside their gates.
Zoos are not the enemy. The people who work for them are not terrible people. They are people like me, that get paid a very low salary to go to work day in and day out, practically doing the same thing. The majority of our day consists of simply cleaning all the enclosures. We do this every day, knowing we’ll just have to come back and do it all over again tomorrow. We work hard at making sure our animals receive good quality of food and a varied diet (assuming the animal isn’t on a strict dietary requirement of course). We do our best to ensure the animals receive behavioral enrichment. Our days are so full of caring for the animals, that we rarely get a chance to just sit back and truly enjoy them. There’s always some task that needs to be done next. A lot of zoos are understaffed and overworked. But we do it. We come to work everyday with smiles on our faces and coffee in our hands, because the reward is the care and hard work we put in at making sure we give the best quality of life to every animal under our care.
Many people don’t like their local zoos. Maybe they find “this” to be too old, or “that” to not be big enough. Maybe they don’t like the way the zoo houses this animal or that animal. The solution isn’t simply to turn your back on the zoo. That guarantees nothing will change for the better. Instead, find out how your zoo gets funded. How much money do they get from the government? Do they get any support? Is the majority of the support coming from visitors? Private investments? It’s really important to look into these things. I can tell you one thing right now, a zoo would absolutely improve its grounds and the quality of life for all its animals if it could simply afford to. In the United States, zoos don’t get a lot of support from the government. There is a limited amount of money there. Zoos rely heavily on donations (maybe from wealthy people or corporations) and they rely heavily on the admission fees and generosity from their visitors. Zoos can only make things better when they have a means to do so. If you want things to get better, why not help out instead of turn your back on a zoo? When your zoo holds a fundraiser, maybe participate? It’s a complicated cycle. Maybe you don’t like your zoo, but you would if it would change a few things. But sadly, a zoo can’t change without your support.
© Semi Charmed Life
This post is part of the A to Z Challenge and YAY! I have successfully completed the challenge!