Opinion: Zoos, Uncovering the Truth


Sejal Butala, Contributing Writer

In recent years, zoos have faced immense criticism from environmental activists all over the world who claim that caging and trapping animals in captivity is inhumane and must be immediately stopped. However, many zoos refute these accusations, arguing their work helps animal populations and informs the general public.

In the internet age, this topic has gotten even more heated over social media, the news, and shockingly revealing documentaries. This leaves many wondering which side is correct. Still, I can definitively say that zoos are more akin to animal prisons than sanctuaries.

First of all, inhumane acts can be seen in the mental state of most animals in captivity. Unlike in the wild where animals roam free, most zoo creatures are not getting the mental stimulation they require. It is a common sight for zoo-goers to see a tiger pacing in circles, or an elephant swaying back and forth, both of which are regular signs of an animal suffering from a condition known as zoochosis. Essentially, this is caused by the lack of having a rich, interesting lifestyle, causing their brain functions to deteriorate, and ultimately degrade their mental and physical health.

Another problem with zoos is the enclosures the animals live in, which bear more of a resemblance to a jail cell. This is seen in a report conducted by PETA about SeaWorld’s orca enclosures, which are “approximately 86 feet by 51 feet and are only 34 feet deep—not even twice as deep as the average orca is long”. These extremely small enclosures are a far cry from the wide ocean wild orcas find themselves in; this takes another mental and physical toll on the creatures. While zoos claim to replicate an animal’s original environment, these artificial spaces can barely be considered actual homes.

Zoos further show their inhumanness through their cruel breeding tactics. Though the defense for these behaviors is that they are trying to increase animal populations, these feats could not be worse for the creatures themselves. One example of this is in the case of Johari, a female gorilla from Brevard Zoo, Florida, who was a victim of these abusive tactics. She was placed with a mate, pre-chosen for her, but when she rebelled, zookeepers drugged her using a substance known as Provac. This kept her docile enough to let the male mate with her, despite her reluctance. This violation of nature, forcing an animal to mate against their will, goes to show the horrific lengths zoos will go for money.

The age-old idea of caging animals to make a profit is still widely in practice today. Even though it has been under the façade of an ethical, moral sanctuaries that deeply care for nature, the dark, greedy truth is now coming to light. The acts of mentally torturing, caging, and drugging animals has gone on for too long. It is time to make this obsolete, old, and cruel practice a thing of the past.