Ethics Of Wildlife Captivity And Consequences It Has On Captured Animals

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“When we return wild animals to nature, we merely return them to what is already theirs. For man cannot give wild animals freedom, they can only take it away” (Jacques Cousteau). Wild animals are known as “wild” because they are not tame and rely on themselves to survive in a natural habitat with no help from humans. If they were meant to be locked in prisons, then there is no point in calling them wild.

Animal officials use a number of arguments to support that it is necessary to keep animals in captivity in order to preserve their positions, but those arguments are neither ethical nor crucial enough to deprive animals of their natural rights to freedom. Even under the best circumstances, captivity is unable to gauge the natural habitats of wild animals. Zoos and marine parks prevent these lively animals from carrying out the healthy, fulfilling lives provided for animals in their natural habitat.

Land animals are selfishly and greedily held captive in zoos, amusement parks, and other places serving the entertainment of people who are ignorant of the harm done to the “cute” animals on display. For example, the welfare of elephants in United Kingdom zoos is diminishing as government-sponsored research shows that 75% of elephants were overweight, 84% walked abnormally, and the rest of the elephants were lame in different levels of severity. Less than 20% of elephants were completely free of feet complications (“Freedom for Animals”).

Contributing to the problem of elephants being overweight is the inconvenience of little space at the zoos in contrast to wide endless savannahs in Africa, their homeland. This causes elephants to exercise less, therefore becoming increasingly less healthy, not to mention a decrease in the elephants’ morale. Ultimately, the elephants’ inactivity leads to feet problems and abnormalities in their ability to walk. Many believe that zoos contribute to the conservation of wildlife and animals. However, facts beg to differ with this belief. The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) expressed that member zoos were urged to “cull” or kill undesired animals including unwanted tigers and hybrids.

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According to the zoos, the animals took up space and keeper time. In 2010, zoo trading groups came to the defense of a German zoo that had killed three healthy hybrid tiger cubs only because of their less desirable mix of genes (“Freedom for Animals”). Zoos have made a horrible mistake in taking animals out of their wild habitats when they admit to the failure of having the right “space” or “time” for them. Apparently, many zoos are not trying to conserve wildlife, but are taking too many animals into captivity to suit the pockets of zoo corporations. Subsequently, when animals do not perfectly fulfill their need to entertain the public or perhaps take up too many resources, they are slaughtered. Clearly, animals in zoos are used in creating a bigger benefit to the corporation’s wealth, rather than the wellbeing of the animals themselves which is the same for sea animals in captivity.

There are bound to be consequences when animals accustomed to swimming thousands of miles a day in the open ocean are placed in a closed environment. For example, based on the research done by The Whale and Dolphin Conservation, dolphins’ average lifespan is twelve years in captivity as opposed to their thirty to fifty years lifespan in the ocean (Whale and Dolphin Conservation). Some people may believe that captivity increases the lifespan of dolphins, as they are being tended to and cared for, but many are deceived of reality. The truth hiding behind the facade is that dolphins die faster in imprisonment than their habitat, and we as viewers are supporting this by buying tickets to marine amusement parks. Adding to this fact is another sea creature: the Orca. The latest data shows that orcas are more susceptible to death than any other animal due to their high stress.

Orcas are often forced into artificial and usually incompatible social groups which contributes to chronic stress and thus leads the immune system to deteriorate. Subsequently, these creatures are more vulnerable to infections they would usually fight off in the wild. An example of the damage inflicted on animals unnaturally locked inside cages is clear in an infamous orca’s death. The first-ever captive orca, Wanda, was forced into a small 100 by 50 by 19-foot oval tank in Los Angeles. Two days later, Wanda committed suicide. How can a killer whale kill itself? Well, Wanda would ram herself at full speed against the walls of her confinement over and over again to escape (Stephen Messenger). Society caused an innocent creature to kill itself. In looking at these past stories and new research today, we can conclude that marine creatures do not deserve the prison they call home.

Overall, no animals should be locked in zoos or any other organization because they are naturally wild animals who are accustomed and adapted to their wild habitats, and regardless of the effort humans put into trying to replicate their habitat, it will never be the same or any better as some claim. Evidence has shown that animals are sick and dying prematurely due to a lack of correct resources of food, space, compatible animals, and other crucial necessities. Luckily, everyone can do something to stop the cruelty taking place in our communities by simply choosing to avoid supporting corporations that imprison animals. Clearly, these organizations are not fully truthful in their dealings with these animals, so in an act of love and moral, the public must refuse to support this injustice.

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