Zoos Are Cruel

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Following a recent incident at the Delhi zoo, a huge brouhaha was created over the mauling of a man by a tiger. Social media sites were flooded with posts defending the tiger and people were largely convinced that it was the man’s fault who played with the safety guidelines issued by the authorities and ended up falling in the tiger’s cage.

The very incident made me wonder– why do we have zoos in the first place? Do we really need them? Do all the animals really need the protection of an iron cage?

The cages possessing tigers and all other animals are present for our entertainment– so that we can look at the colourful birds packed in steel frames and admire their beaks and feathers; so that we can see the monkeys jumping back and forth on the few branches of the only tree they have access to behind the iron bars; so that we can admire the giraffe’s long neck and zebra’s black and white stripes and tell our young ones why zebra crossing is called what it’s called; so that we can see the ferocious crocodiles lazing in mud and water and scream with excitement at how horrifying the animal really is.

We can have so much fun clicking family pictures with animals which are of course caged, separated from their own families, and living in an artificial habitat. So what if animals develop Zoochosis, abnormal behaviour that develops overtime due to boredom and frustration. The animal suffering from the illness starts biting the iron bars, abnormally twisting its neck, repeatedly vomiting and eating its own vomit and its own excreta. The animal starts swaying its head and body from side to side, circle around itself out of nothingness, and pull out its own hair or feathers leaving bald patches and broken skin. All this reflects the helplessness and suffocation suffered by these creatures every day. The frustration and illness cracks down the animal to self-mutilation and it starts biting and chewing its leg or tail and even hitting its head against a wall.

Imagine a human going through such agony. Horrifying. Isn’t it? However safe zoos may be for animals; however easily animals get food inside the cages, it still makes their lives miserable. Would we ever want to be caged and often ignored, fed through the bars, used for money, shows, exhibits circuses and ultimately slaughtered for meat and skin? Or would we rather choose the open free world where we might be under the danger of meeting a fatal accident but have the freedom to live and our family to love.

Why is it that we still have zoos? How can we support such a cruel form of entertainment? Would it not be better to have centres for wild life videos instead? Videos of wild forests, where the animal is free to move in its natural stress-free habitat, live with its family, eat what it wants to eat, and do what it wants to do.

We justify our cruelty in the name of saving the endangered species. We have robbed them of their homes and now their freedom too. Is locking animals in cages, putting them on display and making profits out of their misery our way of saving the endangered species?

A better way is to stop robbing them of their homes and let them live in their natural habitats. Why is it that we consider ourselves the saviour of the land, the water, the animals, the planet? Why can’t we just save ourselves and help ourselves by not disturbing every natural process adding to global warming, pollution of oceans and deforestation? And if we really want to save animals why not make animal refugees and not put them on display?

Visiting zoos doesn’t make us an animal lover. If we really want to see the amazing fauna, go for the jungle safari and watch them in the wild. There is nothing more magical than observing wild animals in their natural habitat.

Say no to zoos! Say no to cruelty!

Ratanpriya Sharma

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