Animal rights groups, like PETA, argue that animals have the same basic rights as humans, e.g. because human slavery is strictly forbidden, animals as pets and in zoos should be forbidden; because genetic testing on humans is illegal, so to should it be illegal for animals; because we do not exploit humans as food products, neither should we exploit animals for their products like milk and eggs; because we do not kill humans for the skins, we must not kill animals for their fur, etc. This line of logic, that animal rights groups embrace, means that they favor the extinction of a whole species over the imprisonment of a individual endangered creature (because it is illegal to keep humans in order to make them breed, then the same goes for an endangered species of animal). Animal rights are therefore much different than animal welfare groups, such as many zoos, who see extinction of species as the ultimate evil. Animal welfare groups are usually involved in breeding programs that nurture both the biological as well as psychological development of animals raised in captivity with the ultimate goal of reintroducing animals to the wild.
Animals were not meant to be confined to cages for the amusement of humans and often, zoo officials don’t care about the welfare of the animals. They care about what benefits the zoo first.
Even zoos that try to supply what an animal needs can’t fully offer what’s required for the animals to be happy.
Elephants, for example, walk about 30 miles per day. No zoo enclosure can offer enough space for them to do that. It doesn’t matter how natural-looking the enclosure, it still won’t be able to accommodate what the elephants need.
Animals in zoos become terribly depressed and have to be given tranquilizers and anti-depressants in order to keep them from hurting themselves with dangerous behavior patterns.
Is it better for an animal to become extinct in the wild? There is no clear-cut answer for that, and as long as humans continue destructive behaviors of their own (poaching, burning down rainforests, etc.), we are all in danger.
Getting back to zoos, though, while some of them do their best to care for animals, they’re still falling short on the needs of the species, and there are zoos around the world that do not provide adequate care.
With videography and photography, and the other technological advances we have now, there really is no need for zoos to exist. We can see these animals, and learn about them, and appreciate them without locking them up.
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