We think of wildlife as running on the prairie, or swimming through the forest, or swimming in the ocean – but in reality, it’s more of a picture on the TV screen. Zoos and circuses are “animal prisons” set up to satisfy human curiosity by exploiting animals freedom, this can never be ethical. Though the animals cannot talk, they are suffering silently in captivity. They are far from their natural surroundings, humans turned their natural habitats to entertain us in the aquariums, zoos, and circuses. They are imprisoned for life in concrete cages or are threatened with learning awkward performances to entertaining humans. Zoos and circuses use animals fear to entertain their audiences. The history of human civilization is inseparable from the pursuit of freedom. Other animals, like humans, are born to love freedom, fear of imprisonment and threat.
Start with animals in the zoo, firstly, the animal is deprived of its natural habitat, natural social structure, and companionship. A wild killer whale is estimated to have 30-50 years of lifespan, however, in reality, most orcas in captivity don’t live past age 13. Secondly, the animal doesn’t have enough room. Tigers and lions have around 18,000 times less space in zoos than they would in the wild. The National Geographic described orcas, or killer whales, as the largest of the dolphins and one of the world’s most powerful predators. Orcas in the wild can swim 100 miles per day and can dive up to 1,000 feet. However, the tanks that SeaWorld has proposed for this huge creature only reaches 50 feet. Where did the rest of the 950 feet go? Imagine yourself living in a bathtub for your entire life. Furthermore, it’s not just marine animals suffering. Elephants in the wild can cover up to 50 square kilometers a day, but at the zoo, every minute and second, they stand on lifeless concrete, waiting for food, waiting for the day to end. Mali is the only elephant in Manila zoo, has not seen even one from her own species. There are many animals who travel over a great distance within a short amount of time, such as lions, tigers, deer, elephants, etc; who are instead spending their most of their time bored and alone in the zoo. Their normal behaviors are regulated and eliminated with restrictions of the amounts of food and artificial paring. The daily routine in the zoos is very repetitive and monotonous for the animals, it is hazardous to their health. Thirdly, the animal may become bored, depressed and institutionalized, animals bred in zoos may become imprinted on human beings rather than members of their own species – this prevents them fully experiencing their true identity. Most, if not all, animals become emotionally damaged from lack of privacy and stimulation that they receive. The animals tend to develop stereotypic symptoms, which is called ‘zoochosis”. This will include the symptoms of “pacing back and forth, rocking, swaying from side to side, eating their own excrement, continually licking or biting bars and self-mutilation.” (Ethics) Arturo is a polar bear living at Mendoza Zoo in Argentine, it sits in a concrete enclosure in temperatures of up to 104 Fahrenheit and is diagnosed with depression. For more than two decades, this 400 kilograms creature was stuck in a concrete enclosure with a just 20 inches deep pool. This saddest polar bear in the world died in 2012 after struggled its companion.
Animals in circuses are suffering from physically and mentally abuse from humans even more than those in the zoos. Firstly, they are abused by long and brutal training. The elephants are one of the “protagonists” of the animal show. As we watched the elephant tread carefully on the ball, did we ever wonder what kind of torture he suffered to make such an awkward gesture? Imagine yourself trying to balance your entire body on a tiny marble ball. In the course of training, elephants are often threatened by trainers: cold elephant hooks and rough whips are usual tools used by trainers. The purpose is to make elephants fear the punishment of iron hooks and whips and follow the instructions of trainers to do dangerous or stupid actions. If we observe carefully, the faces and legs of elephants in the circus often have the scars of being beaten by elephant hooks. Secondly, the animals are imprisoned in the cage and on the stage for lifelong. When there is a show, the animals are locked up on the stage. When there were no performances, they were kept in their own cramped cages. The animals in the circuses have endured a life without end. And many times, because of the circuses movement, these animals had to be kept in cages for thousands of miles with the truck, unable to move freely and unable to see the sun outside. In order to reduce the number of clearing vehicles, trainers intentionally control the animals’ food and water, even up to four or five days. In the high-temperature weather, the animals on the road will easily suffer from dehydration and die gradually. Thirdly, the animals paid for being losing control. Many crimes committed by human beings are due to long-term discrimination and oppression by others. It must not be forgotten that humans are also animals, all animals in the case of excessive abuse will instinctively rise up against. Long-term abuse, fasting, and imprisonment are unbearable repression for any animal. In 2014, an 8-year-old girl in Chongqing, China, entered a circus during non-performance time, she was bitten on the face and head by a tiger. A few years ago, a 6-year-old girl in Kunming, China, was bitten and killed by a runaway tiger while taking pictures with a circus tiger. In 2011, more than a dozen children were kicked while watching an elephant performance in Jinan, China. The gory lesson may be said to be an accident, but in fact, it is the inevitable result of a long torture.
When an animal becomes useless due to many reasons, where would it go? A young male giraffe named Marius lived at Copenhagen Zoo, though healthy, he was genetically unsuitable for future breeding, as his genes were overrepresented in the captive population, so it was decided by the zoo authorities to kill him. He died on 9 February 2014.
Do you know that at least 156 Orcas have been captured in the wild for display in captivity since 1961? The data is extremely hurting. Only 20 of those 156 captures are alive today, at least 165 orcas have died in captivity. People need to start something to make a change for the animals. The easiest way to show your determination is to not visit zoos or other enclosures where they are put on the show and deprived of liberties. Perhaps the best thing for the animals is for us to learn to respect them and recognize that even though we are different in some ways, in what’s important, we are equal.
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