Senate The Hypocritical Zoo

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

  1. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    I don't have opinions about other stuff, but how is this a bad lesson? It's fundamentally true. Not to imply that we should just be locking up animals with reckless abandon. But really. Are you suggesting it is morally wrong for humans to confine an animal?
  2. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Sep 19, 2000
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    Well, for one thing - when the zoos claim they do so much for animal welfare, that's hypocritical.
    Also, most locked-up animals go crazy.

    @DarthBoba, agreed, they just require a proper environment - something only a few zoos offer. So you agree we can close the rest?

    @SithLordDarthRichie, research centers =/= zoos.

    @Ender_Sai, Taronga and Western Plains regularly sell endangered animals to hunters for private game reserves or to circuses.

    @harpuah, only 10% of US zoos are AZA-accredited.

    Seems like you're all aping the propaganda, folks! Pun largely intended.
  3. Ender Sai Chosen One

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    Regularly? I know of one incident.
  4. Darth Guy Chosen One

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    It's funny how zoos are painted as the saviors of endangered species when many animals are collected from the wild instead of being bred in captivity (and theme parks like Sea World and aquariums tend to be even worse offenders), and throughout most of their history zoos and "natural history museums" through demand for rare or popular specimens have actively contributed to the extinction of more species than they will likely ever save.
    Last edited by Darth Guy, Jan 16, 2013
  5. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

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    @SuperWatto - Do you have any pets?

    @Darth Guy - I'm sure that was true long ago when Museums were about getting hold of the rarest things possible (and stuffing them for posterity) but I doubt few museums in the western world still do that. Most places I've been to with any stuffed animals have specimens that are decades old or more, and even those still get vandalised by those looking for valuable parts.
    And there are museums with field-leading experts who work in institutions that do huge amounts of research into genetics and whatnot which they learn from the specimens they have which in turn helps them understand how best to aid other species.


    I don't care for Sea World having large marine life like Orcas which they will never have tanks large enough to keep properly (higher intelligence mammals in general shouldn't really be kept in captivity unless they are incapable of living elsewhere or the alternative to captivity is death). Plus they tend to do shows which turn animals into glorified circus performers which goes against the entire idea of natural environment and natural behaviour which such institutions should be promoting & practising. The best places are non-interaction as much as possible, and do enrichment activities designed to stimulate wild behaviour (Longleat Park's staff drive through the big cat enclosures dragging dead animal parts behind their vehicles while the animals give chase as they would in the wild) instead of show-off how well something can balance a ball on its nose or spin around while people sit and cheer.
  6. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    It's a sincere question, and I don't know the answer. What kind of conservation programs are effective? I was responding to a statement in the article that one of the goals of the program was to create a sustainable stock of exotic animals to populate zoos. I'm not sure what kind of reference you're asking me to provide. The part of this thread that was interesting to me was the marketing material that zoos bombard their visitors with about their own importance to the animal world, as if zoos existed for the animals instead of to display them for (in most cases) paying customers and so perpetuate the zoo's business model. How accurate is that marketing material? I'm not trying to argue a side here.
  7. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

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    There is no reason Zoos can't both be for-profit and still be pro animals and their protection.

    Even reserves operate that way, they rely on safari tourism to generate enough money to be able to get staff and equipment to better protect the animals they have in the reserves. There are even hunting parks which breed captive populations soley to have them killed by people as trophies but still use that money to replace the animals they lose or donate what is left of the dead ones to locals as meat.

    Fish farming is a good way of getting a supply of fish without going out and decimating the wild population, but it requires fish to be penned in so they can't escape. It's unfortunate, but it's that or risk losing whole species. Marine life is harder to conserve because they can move freely across vast areas and end up on the other side of the world. The best way to help them is to leave them alone to grow in number, but if some countries (*cough* Japan *cough*) don't want to do that then farming becomes an option just as it does with livestock.
  8. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    ES, maybe you're right and I'm misrembering information from websites that I visited yesterday. I'll check it out tonight, if I have the time.
    Still, I maintain that a couple of good animal parks don't make up for the bad zoos.

    SLDR, sure! Three cats. Why?
  9. JackG Force Ghost

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    Aug 15, 2011
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    And then there's Werribee Open Range zoo down here in Victoria as well, which is, as the name suggests, spacious and accommodating for the animals. And also the Koala Conservation Centre on Phillip Island - which has saved many koalas from chlamydia or being roadkill and is a space amongst gum trees that many koalas couldn't hope for in the 21st Century wild.
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  10. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

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    Do you not consider "imprisoning" them in your home to be cruel? I'd wager the average home even with garden has less space than most zoo enclosures.
    Do they go crazy as you imply happens to most locked-up animals?
    Last edited by SithLordDarthRichie, Jan 16, 2013
  11. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    LOL.
    I was already thinking, surely he's not gonna go there?
    You're about 10,000 years late for that discussion.
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  12. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

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    I don't see the difference with domestic or home animals and generations-old captive bred formerly wild animals (which have never even seen their native region) being in zoos. You don't consider it cruel to keep cats in a house yet it's not OK for a Lion (essentially a bigger version of your cat) to do the same?

    My cat's natural behaviour has not gone away because it lives with me, it still hunts and roams freely as it pleases. It comes back because I feed it and it considers my home its own.
    Big cats do the same, so long as they are fed and can sleep somewhere they require little else. Why hunt when food is given to you? Doesn't mean they can't hunt if they had to.
    Last edited by SithLordDarthRichie, Jan 16, 2013
  13. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Please. At least look up the words ''domesticate" and "wild" before you post gibberish. We're trying to have a discussion here.
  14. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

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    How do you think domesticated animals came about in the first place? From taking animals out of the wild, keeping them captive and breeding them for generations until they adapted to living with humans. Why isn't that wrong? It's now OK to keep cows captive because they are useful to us? Because they don't have wild cows anymore? Well, soon there might not be wild Lions anymore either.


    You argue to release all zoo animals into the wild, what wild is there to send them back into? I like many in this country championed for the return of big omnivorous and carnivorous animals that we once had living wild here such as Bears & Wolves & Lynx. Some guy did a study of open space where such species could live and determined there was enough green space in the whole of England for two Bears to live. Two whole actual wild Bears, hardly enough to create a genetically viable wild population. You want to release Bears, they'll only get wiped out again when they start invading urban areas and casuing trouble.

    When the Barbary Lion became extinct the only place you can now going to see one is in a zoo, the only place any hope of returning that species to the wild now exists in zoos since that is where the only source of genetic viability is. You want to release Barbary Lions? Go ahead, let them go extinct with the rest of them. Just don't go complaining that no-one was apparently smart enugh to have kept some around so as to preserve genetic diversity.
    Last edited by SithLordDarthRichie, Jan 16, 2013
  15. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    ITT, hypocrisy and putting words in Watto's mouth rule.

    I argue to close zoos, and to stop the abuse of animals for the purpose of entertainment.
    But mostly, I just want people to be honest.

    10,000 years ago I might have argued against the domestication of small cats. Now it's a little late for that.
  16. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

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    It's a little late for keeping animals solely in the wild these days.
    You assume all zoos abuse animals, most aren't the circus (animal circuses thankfully are rare) and there are plenty that put in a great deal of effort to ensure the prolonged existence of wild species.


    It's a little late to argue for closure of animal-housing institutions seeing as the Human race is ever-increasing and ever-destroying and wants more and more land. I would love to be able to see all animals living wild and I have seen many, but I'm also enough of a realist to know most of them will only survive in captivity unless we do a lot more to restore habitat areas and combat environmental changes.
    I struggle to see a future where widlife won't exist in captivity, but in the end it will exist so that is something.

    In the end I am inclined to listen to guys like David Attenborough (just as I would be to listen to Hawking on matters of Physics), a national institution in his own right and the great wildlife commentator of our age. He says zoos are good, and he knows far more about it than any of us given he is rather a big authority on such things. He is the kind of guy who would say if he didn't like the way something is being done, he recognises the importance of captive animal populations in conservation.


    I am interested to hear @Miana Kenobi's opinion on all this, doesn't she work for Sea World?
  17. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
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    The zoo situation is analogous to hunting, but I think zoos have a worse argument. I've told this story many times, but my father-in-law is a retired large animal vet and lifelong avid hunter in Austria. Hunting in Austria is a bit different from hunting in the U.S. in the way it's regulated. In Austria, access to hunting is tightly controlled by hunting associations at the community (Gemeinde) level. I believe they help set quotas for animals that need to be shot during a given season. Maybe more importantly, they limit the number of hunters who have access to a given hunting area. My father-in-law talks avidly about the hunter's role in conservation, which isn't at all unusual for American hunters either. With most higher level predators extinct in Austria, hunting, restricted size of habitat and the food supply are the only limits on the animal populations. Hunters keep the populations in check, reduce pressures on local farmers from animals eating their crops. You'll get the same arguments from hunters in any developed country. It's a little more convoluted than that. Hunters set up feeding stations for deer in the winter, for example, which is certainly a much more active role in maintaining the supply of hunting trophies than simply culling the herds. It becomes a somewhat symbiotic relationship with hunters promoting species survival so that they can keep shooting them.

    There's a plausible argument that damage caused by the human population to the ecosystem is what makes carefully regulated hunting a necessity for animal population control in the developed world.

    I don't know if you can make the same argument for zoos: that the devastation caused by humans has become so severe that zoos have become necessary as more or less an ark, a last ditch attempt at preventing extinction of a small selection of animals. One thing zoos definitely aren't is an exhaustive ark approach to preservation of species. Is there any reason to suspect that zoo conservation efforts are scientifically aimed at where they can do the most good rather than where they serve the interests of the zoo's business model, not that those things are mutually exclusive?
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Jan 16, 2013
  18. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

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    Hunting is natural if you do it for natural reasons (I don't have issue with Inuits killing seals, because they do it for food & they have always done so). I dislike government-managed culling though.
    Scotland spends millions of public money every year dealing with the overpopulation of Deer that damages the land, yet they forget the reason that happens at all is because we killed all the Wolves which naturally kept the numbers in check. It's far easier to bring Wolve back into Scotland and have them kill deer at no public cost and with benefit to them than it is to spend money on doing it with people.
    But given that Wolves are apparently seen as huamn-killing monsters (thanks for that, Little Red Riding Hood) who will eat our babies Scotland resists such a sensible plan.


    Most zoo projects that exist are aimed at endangered species, which is where you can do the most good. I already mentioned previously about Amphibians and the Chytrid Fungus, there are zoos that have used captive populations of Amphibians (which would otherwise have died out from the fungus or the dangerously low population numbers resulting from the fungus) to do rigorous research and tests into ways of dealing with that problem. That is targeting an area which is in serious need, not because it pays good money to the organisations that do it (they make money out of donations and zoo attendance figures not on overseas conservation or expensive lab research) but because it is in the species' interest.
  19. Miana Kenobi Costuming & Props Mod - Retired Admin

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    I'll start on this one, as that's 100% false in terms of SeaWorld's involvement.

    To be fair, I'm speaking for how SeaWorld and most major aquariums are NOW; I can't answer for parks of the 60s and 70s who did pull animals from the wild. I can only tell you how it is done today.

    Most animals at the several SeaWorld and Busch Gardens parks were all born in captivity in one of our parks or another marine park that we partner with. Another percentage were bought from other aquariums and parks. Only a tiny fragment come from the wild, and those are only animals that have been injured or ill in the wild and brought under our care through our SeaWorld Rescue Program. Most animals are rehabilitated and then released back into the wild. If an animals is incapable of taking care of itself anymore or requires constant medical treatment and supervision, then it stays with us. The only odd place we get animals from is the Navy, who usually retire their sea lions and dolphins to us.

    The breeding programs at our parks is such a high priority for us because it establishes a market for other zoos and aquariums. We breed sharks, fish, and sea turtles like crazy because then we can sell them to other marine parks so that the animals in the wild can STAY in the wild.

    Do I 100% agree with captivity? Of course not. In a perfect world, these animals would live free and wouldn't be near extinction because of stupid humans. However, there are some benefits to having animals in captivity. For one, it allows scientists and researchers to study the animals and learn about them. As we've had about a dozen baby orcas born in the past 2 decades, it's allowed our vets and scientists to track growth, vocal development, social development, and a ton of other things that you just can't study in the wild. Getting data on the animals then in turn helps us learn how to care for animals in the wild, especially when a sick animal comes our way.

    Back in 1997, an orphaned baby gray whale was rescued by SeaWorld. She was only about 300-500lbs, and nearly died. No one had ever really had a gray whale before, so our researchers had to figure out how to replicate gray whale milk and keep this baby alive. JJ, as she was called, made a full recovery and lived at SeaWorld for a year. They taught her how to eat real food, did research with hydraphones and vocals, and then released her back into the wild a year later (at 20,000 lbs!) Thanks to everything we learned by having JJ, we were able to share everything we learned with animal care staffs around the world who also sometimes get stranded whale calfs.

    Someone already brought up the California condor and I'll expand on that. By 1987, there were only 22 of these birds left in the WORLD. Between the Wild Animal park and LA Zoo, that number is now up to 405. Half have been reintroduced back into the wild and the other half still live at the zoos. The Northern White Rhino, on the other hand, is barely clinging on to not being extinct. There's only about 7 left in the world: 2 at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, 1 in the Czech Republic, and about 4 in Grambara National Park in the Congo. As breeding hasn't helped save these animals, all the research that has been done on them in the past 2 decades has lead scientists to see if they can actually use cloning to help bring back these creatures.

    Our parks (and both of the San Diego zoos) try and give the animals as nice of a habitat as possible. There's a rule by I forget which animal agency that to keep a creature in captivity, you must have it in an area where it is capable of making a complete turn and be able to rotate itself 180. For a 20 foot killer whale, that's something that's only about 50 feet long and maybe 30 feet wide. Instead, we have a 6.7 million gallon habitat. The San Diego Wild Animals Park (now called the Safari park) is one of a kind in that it does have that HUGE 300 acre expanse where most of the African plains animals (minus the carnivores) live together. The San Diego Zoo recently has been going through it's exhibits one by one and making them much nicer for the animals. They recently redid the elephant area and it's HUGE. Most of the animals over there got brand new awesome habitats to roam around in and the zoos did their best to make the habitat resemble their nature environment.

    On "forcing animals to perform tricks": Again, I can only speak for my job, but do you honestly think you can make an 8000lb animals do ANYTHING? :p Or even a 400lb sea lion? These animals do what they want. Sure, they've been trained that they will get a reward if they do something the trainers ask, but if i had a nickel for every time an animals has refused to do a cue, OR done what the whales like to do and do an easier behavior because they know they'll still get a treat, I would be freaking rich. All of our training is on positive reinforcement, so if the animal does something incorrect, the trainers pause for a few seconds, look at the animals while doing so, and then do something else.

    Something else that zoos and marine parks do? They allow people to see these amazing creatures. While that may not seem significant, taking children to zoos is a powerful thing. Kids form attachments to animals, and some grow up to be researchers whose passion it is to save the animals they grew up loving.

    Now in terms of money: Our zoos are non-profit. Pretty much every penny of income goes back into the park. Whenever they want to expand on part of the park (like they're currently expanding the Aussie Outback habitats), it means a fundraiser by guests and city members.

    SeaWorld isn't non-profit, but we don't make a profit either. Most of what we make goes straight back into caring for the animals. Mostly food and enrichment. Our orcas eat between 100-200lbs of restaurant quality fish every single day. EACH. Times that by 9 orcas, we have to have around 1500lbs of fish that have to be bought and prepared every day. And that's not counting our dolphins, sea lions, seals, 300+ penguins, all of our birds, rays, fish, etc. What we don't spend there goes to our Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, which focuses on researching and conservation of the ocean. The tiny bit of money left goes to improvements in the park, like upkeep, new shows, and new attractions so we can continue to draw people in to the park to pay money so we can continue spending that money on the animals.



    Now, are ALL aquariums/zoos like mine? Heck no. I've been to some really dodgy zoos and those make me super sad. Should those be shut down? Probably. However, releasing that animal back into the wild immediately isn't the answer. Most captive animals probably won't survive in the wild. They've been relying on humans for too long, or if they had any medical issues, they would die instantly. So it really just always comes back to whether it's better for an animal to be dead in the wild or alive but in captivity. As long as they're comfortable, I always choose the latter.

    [IMG]
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  20. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Thanks. So, now that we've discussed all the red herrings, can we start closing zoos?

    For those who like to go off on their own tangent and prefer to gloss over the actual topic, I'll reiterate:
    - 10% of American zoos are OK. I'd imagine the percentage worldwide is similar.
    - The majority of species kept in zoos are not threatened.

    So, let's stop the sidetracking about the one institute that's OK here, and the one project that went well there. Let's actually discuss zoos.
  21. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 19, 1999
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    I stopped taking my kids, nephew and nieces to zoos many years ago. I've never been able to get through without them asking uncomfortable questions about whether or not the animals were suffering being caged, how they felt about being locked up, etc., how sorry they felt for the animals. I was a Brookfield zoo member for two years before giving it up.

    Brookfield zoo used to be known for a polar bear that exhibited signs of what looked like mental illness. It would pace its cage, then pace its cage backwards, back and forth, over and over. My son called him (her?) Rewind Bear. I told my son that we don't really understand much about the interior mental lives even of big, somewhat human-looking mammals, so it was hard to really know what was going through that bear's head, even though he looked bat**** crazy.

    But it's easy to imagine that restricting an animal to a small enclosure limits its behavior and keeps it from acting completely "like itself." There might be something analogous to human mental illness in animals. That's something you don't read much about on the zoo signage.

    Also, as another aside, when he was really little, my son decided to himself that his grandfather just "shot the antlers off" the deer. It was a fascinating mental maneuver that helped a preschooler keep his respect for his grandfather. I have nothing against hunting, but this just goes to show you again the ways children empathize with animals, whether appropriately or not. Maybe visiting zoos is not good for humans either, children especially.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Jan 16, 2013
  22. AaylaSecurOWNED Force Ghost

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    May 19, 2005
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    I'm loling at the pictures in the first post. Look! Severely cropped images of animals near the bars of a cage! End the cruelty of zoos where animals may sometimes stand near metal bars regardless of how big their living habitats may actually be, which we can't tell because they've been cropped out! Noooo, not a lion poking its mouth

    through

    metal

    bars!!
  23. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Then let's put you in there, see how you lol.
  24. AaylaSecurOWNED Force Ghost

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    lol. My last apartment had a balcony railing that looked just like the bars in the second picture (the one where you literally can't see anything except the bars and the lions' noses?), so for all that picture proves I have been in there, and it was great!
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  25. Ender Sai Chosen One

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    Feb 18, 2001
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    Watto I've never seen you so emotionally irrational about an issue ever. It's adorable. Miana posts extensive rebuttals to your claims and you response is basically, "Um, but I already established zoos are bad. Moving on..."

    I commend you for being able to post whilst jamming fingers in your ears saying "lalalalalcan'thearyoulalalalala". Truly, an impressive feat.
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