Senate The Hypocritical Zoo

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by SuperWatto, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Zoos are for fun. Animals are locked up, often in spaces that are too cramped, for people's entertainment. The animals suffer - cats can't run, elephants can't trek, birds can't fly and aquatic animals don't have enough water. And yet, many of those people say they love animals. I say: if you love somebody, set them free.

    The poster talk that zoos spout about preservation and education is just feel-good propaganda. They're in it for the money. If they didn't sell tickets, they'd close. Besides, most animals in zoos are not endangered, and only half of all the endangered species is represented in zoos.

    Kids are often brought there under the guise of education. And yet, the overarching message they're taught is that it's alright to lock up animals against their will. Zoos don't encourage respect for animals as much as they encourage the poor treatment of animals.

    So: release all the animals. By all means, help endangered species breed, but there's no need to have people gawk. It's cruel.

    Who's with me?

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  2. DantheJedi Force Ghost

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    Several years ago, I went to the nearby zoo, and it was kinda sorta pathetic for the animals. The lions didn't seem to have much room to roam around in, and I saw a kid teasing a mountain lion with some kind of toy, which the animal clearly didn't like (If it wasn't behind some bars, that cat would've probably pounced on that kid).
  3. EmpireForever Force Ghost

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    I used to be like you. "Those poor animals!" I lamented. "They should be free out in the wild as nature intended!" Then I realized that if they were in the wild the Elephants would be hunted for their ivory, most of the prey would die a horrible death from a predator, some of the predators would die a horrible death from starvation or infection or something, and they would all just generally have a pretty miserable life. In the zoo they get all the food they need, they get hassle-free living, and they get medical attention if they need it. It's like a fancy hotel--sure, it's not as big as your house, but it sure is fancier.
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  4. Jedi Gunny Yahtzee Host

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    It's a real dilemma, that's for sure. Zoos certainly aren't the best places for animals, but on the other hand, if the zoo wasn't there, these animals probably would be hunted down (which goes into an economic discussion that I do not need to get into because it's complicated).
    Last edited by Jedi Gunny, Jan 14, 2013
  5. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    The Brookfield Zoo outside Chicago is legendary in the way it affronts visitors with incessant messages touting its own critical importance in conservation efforts. It's not very convincing, but it's very shrill.

    My parents once bought my son a copy of "Faithful Elements" about zookeepers in world war 2 Tokyo being forced to starve their elephants to death. It made my son cry, and I left my mom an angry voice mail.

    After he calmed down a bit, I explained to my young son that the story could not possibly be true. In Soviet Russia, during the siege of Leningrad, for example, they definitely would have butchered those elephants and eaten them - it would have been a fantastic meal for dozens of starving Soviets. I couldn't imagine the people of Japan doing anything different. Parenting can be so hard.

    But my point is, I think of zoos as an emergency source of protein.
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  6. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Well, at least that's an honest viewpoint. If only zoos could get behind that. I'm picturing huge tanks with whales in 'em.

    First of all, you'd need to show some proof of unchecked and species-threatening ivory hunting and predators dying out that's actually being undone by zoos, if you want your position to have any merit. But more importantly, living in zoos is not hassle-free. Many caged animals suffer psychological torment and behave strangely and often aggressively as a result. So who are we to say that that's better than the natural way? Moreover, if the objective is to save animals, why keep them in zoos?

    Actually, if you want to post here, you do need to get into it. Let's have it!
  7. EmpireForever Force Ghost

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    It's not being undone by zoos for the species, it's being undone for the animals in the zoo. Not everyone gets to stay in the penthouse.
  8. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    This. Due to economic conditions across most of the globe, there's hundreds of species who have either been hunted to extinction, or face extinction due to loss of environment or hunting or both, or are caught in the middle of never-ending ethnic conflict. Zoos are basically the only reason a fair number of these animals are even still alive, and whilst it was a massive undertaking, the reintroduction of the California Condor shows that captive breeding programs can be a major success.

    The ideal is the San Diego Wild Animal Park:

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    I would say that a dull, probably shortened, but well-fed, safe, and non-traumatic existence in a zoo is vastly preferable to every member of your species being exterminated for parts of your corpse.
  9. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Again, that's pamphlet talk. Most of the animals in zoos aren't nearing extinction, and most animals that are nearing extinction aren't in zoos. Plus, the San Diego Park is obviously the exception to the rule.
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  10. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    That's not the point. I mean, unless you're seriously suggesting extinction is better than zoos? As for the San Diego Park, just because it's an exception to a rule (and TBH most American zoos I've been too aren't nearly as horrific as the pictures in your OP and offer decent space, and, again, no threat of extermination.) doesn't mean it need be the only such place, which it isn't in any case.

    As for most animals in zoos not being endangered-incorrect, also. The Minnesota Zoo is home to 500 species; the only animals that don't have an endangered/threatened marker outside their exhibit are the ones from North America and Europe.


    Additionally, you're not bothering to touch on the fact that without zoos, most people would never see any of these animals, endangered or not. It breeds familiarity and awareness in a way nature documentaries never can, and that's key to fighting the problem of endangerment and extinction.

    Finally: You're not really presenting an alternative to zoos, especially in reintroduction of species efforts and public education.
    Last edited by DarthBoba, Jan 14, 2013
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  11. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    I like the example Boba gave. That's what all zoos should strive to be. If they can't, then they should be closed and all animals shipped to places like SDWAP or into wild sanctuaries.
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  12. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

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    Many zoos have conservation projects around the world (ZSL certainly does) that aid many species and work with governments and people as well as scientific institutions and labs that do a lot of work.

    Plus these days a lot of zoos are about animal comfort and not entertainment or public viewing joy. London Zoo dates from the Victorian era and many of the enclosures built for the animals were far too small and designed only so it could be seen by people. These days spaces are much larger and the grade-listed places are used as best as possible, plus big animals such as Elephants & Rhino which were once housed in a very small place together have been moved to ZSL's far larger Whipsnade Zoo where they have lots of space (the Rhino enclosure in Whipsnade alone is about the same area space as the whole of London Zoo). The animals come first now, if you can't see them then that's tough luck. They will no longer be displayed for public amusement unless they decide to emerge or are part of a display or feed (such as birds).

    What zoos do well (or should be doing) is educating people on the plight of wildlife in general, which hopefully means people will take an interest and want to help however they can as well as raising awareness themselves.
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  13. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    Yeah I think many Zoos have become part of the new trend and away from the circus-like atmosphere of the old ones(as much as I enjoyed them when i was a kid).

    Most of the habitats should strive to be as authentic as possible(within reason of course).

    I've long thought of a futuristic animal park where HD footage of animals is captured and reprojected into authentic habitats for kids in areas where it isn't feasible to house them. Almost like an immersive 3D environment.

    Same thing with one of my personal interests: civil war battlefields
    Last edited by ShaneP, Jan 14, 2013
  14. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Or just a good YouTube channel. That's enough to solve DarthBoba's concern about lack of familiarity with exotic animals, not that I'm sure it's a valid concern. I've chaperoned zoo field trips with elementary school classes, and in my admittedly anecdotal experience zoo guides spend as much time trumpeting their own conservation heroism to children as they do talking about animals.

    I think if you could take the combined budgets of 1st world zoos and put that money directly into in situ conservation efforts (anti poaching enforcement, local rescue and breeding programs, etc.) you'd do much more good in terms of protecting endangered species.
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  15. EHT Manager: New Films

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    I agree with others above who point out that the kind of zoos depicted in the first post's pictures are pretty rare at this point, at least in the US and probably in many other places too. Most zoos have vastly improved the conditions that the animals live in... large, naturalistic habitats that favor the comfort of the animals over the convenient viewing abilities of the humans.

    Also, many zoos are very involved in conservation efforts. And a large percentage of the animals at most zoos are actually endangered at one level or another (many zoos have signs by the animal information signs indicating the species' level of endangerment in the wild).
  16. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Maybe at the zoo where you work. I'm not sure how you can make such sweeping statements about zoos in general without some stats to back them up.

    Of the 2400 zoos recognized by the American Department of Agriculture, less than 240 are actually accredited by the American Zoos and Aquariums Association. The rest of them do not meet the necessary standards, including facilities, policies, training, staff qualifications, medical and animal care, husbandry and well-being procedures, and conservation.

    In the UK, a government-funded study of elephants showed that 75% of elephants were overweight and only 16% could walk normally, the remainder having various degrees of lameness. Less that 20% were totally free of foot problems. 54% of the elephants showed behavioural problems. Lions in zoos spend 48% of their time pacing, a recognised sign of behavioural problems. In 2006 the whole pack of wolves at Highland Wildlife Park were killed after the social structure of the pack had broken down. In 2005 two wolf cubs and an adult female were shot dead at Dartmoor Wildlife Park.

    Tigers and lions have around 18,000 times less space in zoos than they would in the wild. Polar bears have one million times less space.

    The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) said in 2007 that member zoos were being actively encouraged to kill unwanted animals, including tigers, if other zoos did not want them and if they were hybrids. It said that such animals take up space and keeper time.

    If people would take an interest by going to the zoo, you'd think a century of zoo-going would have changed things. A US study found no compelling evidence for the claim that zoos and aquariums promote attitude change, education, or interest in conservation in visitors. The study authors urged zoos to stop citing a zoo-funded study which claimed an educational benefit from visits “as this conclusion is unwarranted and potentially misleading to consumers" (Morino et al. Do Zoos and Aquariums Promote Attitude Change in Visitors? A Critical Evaluation of the American Zoo and Aquarium Study. Society and Animals 18 (2010). A UK study concerning aquariums found that 41% of the animals on display had no signs identifying their species. “Most visits to most zoos throughout history have served only as diversions for the curious. Most zoo animals have traditionally been reduced to caricatures of their wild cousins.” (UK Zoo director David Hancocks).

    A quarter of British zoos don’t keep any threatened species, and those that do only have them in very small numbers. "The vast majority “are ‘generic’ animals of hybrid or unknown subspecific status, and therefore of little or no value in conservation terms.” (Nicholas Gould, Editorial, International Zoo News, Vol 49, No 5).

    A 1994 report by the World Society for the Protection of Animals showed that only 1,200 zoos out of 10,000 worldwide are registered for captive breeding and wildlife conservation. Only two percent of the world's threatened or endangered species are registered in breeding programs.
    Last edited by SuperWatto, Jan 15, 2013
  17. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    Never thought about a Youtube channel, but yeah, that'd be helpful.

    The problem with just dumping money is that the countries with animals in need of protection also typically star crap governments with little or no financial responsibility; who knows if the cash is going to where it's needed? Also, you'd be depending on people contributing out of the goodness of their hearts, as zoo money isn't tax-based.
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  18. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Agreed, that's a problem.

    Coincidentally, this was in the news today: Audubon Nature Institute and San Diego Zoo announce Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife

    Is this real conservation, and does it really have a purpose beyond creating breeding stocks of exotic animals to keep zoos populated? Keep in mind that zoos and zoo associations are going to be first and foremost focused on promoting their own survival. Maybe there is some overlap there with true conservation efforts, but I don't think anyone really believes it's an exact match.
  19. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    I suppose it depends on your point of view-do you have any proof that none of the animals have been released into the wild after reaching maturity?
  20. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    No. Is that important? Is that the standard for a successful, cost-effective and environmentally meaningful conservation effort: at least one animal is released into the wild?
  21. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Of course, it's not a completely bad idea. But again, the San Diego Zoo is the exception to the rule, and not at all representative of zoos in general. It represents the conditions in less than 10% of US zoos.

    Animals bred in zoos are not well-positioned to survive in the wild. They obtain a false sense of security, they don't know how to hunt, and they're too weak to stave off predators.

    The most succesful animal releases have been with animals born in the wild. According to review that combined forty-five carnivore reintroductions, animals born in captivity were less likely to survive than wild-caught animals. It helps if they can breed in a natural habitat enclosure, if they get enough range. Still, they wouldn't have any geographical knowledge of where to find water, food, or shelter - which is critical to survival in the wild.
    Last edited by SuperWatto, Jan 15, 2013
  22. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    How is that not important? You're basically claiming that this entire twenty-year operation is a scam. One would think that the WWF or Sierra Club or Earth First might have had something to say about that. Please cite references beyond your personal opinion.

    @SuperWatto: All of that requires stable environments, which endangered animals typically do not have. If an animal's best chance is in the wild, then please explain the shrinking populations of, well, any endangered animal.
  23. Ender Sai Chosen One

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    I'm assuming Holland has some really **** zoos. Both of New South Wales' zoos - Taronga at Neutral Bay in Sydney, and Western Plains Zoo in the state's West - are well regarded in terms of the care for animals etc. The latter also has tonnes of space.

    I don't know, I think you're applying the worst cases you can find to all zoos. Certainly there's a lot of atypical naivety here...
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  24. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

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    Breeding in zoos is no good for wild release, never really has been. But the whole purpose of capitve breeding is so you don't keep wild-born animals in zoos anymore (unless they are so old they pre-date the breeding program such as Giant Galapagos Tortoises).

    I'm all for wild living, it's just unfortunate that even the big reserves like Kruger in South Africa can't look after their own wildlife. They spend lots of money on rangers, who are then bribed or bought-out by poachers who pay better. Kruger last year lost one Rhino on average every calender day, not very effective conservation.

    Kruger also has too many Elephants (last I heard it was 17000 in a park designed to hold 10000) which has lead to huge barren areas of land where trees were ripped up and habitats devestated. The Elephants can't move on to other places as they normally would because they are enclosed, but letting them out of the park would mean they all die at the hands of poachers. It's really a no-win situation, at least the Kruger population can be managed (and natural die-offs will bring balance back at some point).

    The Indonesian Government can't even deal with their illegal pet trade problem, you expect they can protect their endangered species? The nation makes a lot of money out of logging, that damages animal habitat, on an island like Sumatra that is a big problem for Tigers.

    What about Amphibians? Many species hace been decimated by the Chytrid Fungus, you wanna leave them be? Ok fine, but then you'll never see any of them again. In a research centre they can be isolated and bred and studied so as to determine the best way to help them and then restore the wild population as best as possible.


    Zoos can make a rod for their own backs too. I am one of those people who considers the Panda to be extinction walking, it will die out because it hasn't adapted sufficiently to its life of bamboo eating and its lack of mating in the wild to likely survive for very long. Yet huge amounts of money is wasted on attempting to preserve this species which seems pretty doomed anyway (nautrally doomed too, it's not like we are killing it or anything).
    But they are beautiful creatures, and I have no desire to live in a world where the only example of a great majestic creature I can show to kids is a stuffed one in the Natural History Museum or on David Attenborough archive footage. Because that is where we are headed, I've seen enough conservation projects to know how difficult the battle is and I'm not sure it will be won.
    Last edited by SithLordDarthRichie, Jan 15, 2013
  25. harpua Chosen One

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    The Denver Zoo recently opened a ten acre elephant passage, and had also recently made great achievements with a sustainable energy source. Not all zoos are evil money machines... in fact, I'd wager that a better percentage of zoos are ethical than not.

    http://www.denverzoo.org/downloads/DenverZooShowcasesGreenTechnologyonTourdeTukTuk.pdf

    DENVER ZOO TAKES PATENT-PENDING POOP TO POWER TECHNOLOGY ON ROAD TRIP
    Tour de Tuk Tuk Showcases New Use of Biomass Gasification at AZA Conference
    Denver, Colo. (March 19, 2012) – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) first Green Award winner, Denver Zoo, will showcase its groundbreaking working gasification prototype, a motorized three-wheeled rickshaw called a tuk tuk that sustainably utilizes animal poop and human trash as fuel, on a road tour. The Tour de Tuk Tuk leaves Denver on March 22 stopping at zoos in Colorado Springs, Albuquerque and Phoenix before arriving at its final destination at the AZA Mid-year Meeting on March 27 in Palm Desert, California.

    Austin and Blake’s Tuk Tuk, sponsored by the Autrey Foundation, was created to test the poop to power gasification technology planned for use in Denver Zoo’s new 10-acre exhibit, Toyota Elephant Passage. Denver Zoo has built this innovative system from scratch and expects to
    implement the full system in the Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit by the end of the year.
    Furthering the zoo’s efforts to be a national leader in sustainability, the gasification system will
    convert more than 90 percent of the zoo’s waste into usable energy, eliminating 1.5 million
    pounds of trash currently going to landfills annually.

    “We wanted an innovative energy solution that would help us eliminate our landfill waste. We
    immediately considered ways to create energy from animal poop and human trash. The result is
    astounding - an energy solution that can create clean energy from trash,” says VP for Planning
    and Capital Projects George Pond.

    This unique technology developed by the zoo, designed and built by three full-time staff, is
    under provisional patent protection and will be the first to utilize a diverse on-site waste stream,
    a breakthrough that could change how the world manages waste and creates energy. During
    the early phases of design development, the zoo worked with the National Renewable Energy
    Lab (NREL) which funded a workshop to help the zoo explore viable energy options. Numerous
    valuable partners have worked together to financially support this new technology including
    Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc., The Boettcher Foundation, Anabel C. and Jerome P. McHugh,
    The Governor’s Energy Office (Colorado), Pioneer Resources, Mesa Energy Partners, LLC and
    Western Energy Alliance.

    At the finale of the Tour de Tuk Tuk Denver Zoo will join leaders from accredited zoos and
    aquariums around the country at the Mid-year Meeting to share sustainability efforts and find
    green business solutions. The Green Summit is a feature of the Association of Zoos and
    Aquariums Mid-year Meeting, hosted by The Living Desert. Led by the AZA’s Green Scientific
    Advisory Group, the second annual Green Summit will provide a series of workshops to help
    attendees find unique solutions to become more sustainable.

    “Sharing our knowledge amongst accredited zoos and aquariums is critical to our continued
    success saving animals through environmental stewardship,” says Denver Zoo President/CEO
    Craig Piper. “We are so fortunate to work in such a collaborative field, where innovative ideas
    are shared.”

    “AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are leaders in connecting their communities to nature,”
    said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. “Together, they reach 175 million, with science-based messages on the value of sustainability.”
    Last edited by harpuah, Jan 15, 2013
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