On Footprint of delight article, Louise Chawla.
In zoos, wild animals are kept in captivity for (mostly)
recreational purposes. When I visited the London Zoo in 2012, I could only feel
sorry and sad for the penguins, vultures and all animals trapped behind fences,
and deprived of their freedom of movement, feeding and breeding behaviours.
This article however, argues that zoos and aquariums can be the centre of
creating harmonies between diverse human communities and their ecosystem.
Although I do appreciate the educational aspects that zoos and aquariums hold to
enhance connectedness to nature, I would argue it is done at the price of the
ethical treatment of wild animals; who, as their name inspires, should be kept
in the wild. Perhaps the emersion exhibits and direct encounters with wildlife,
much needed to increase connectedness to nature, could be acquired through
different means such as experiences in natural parks/protected areas etc.
Thinking of my personal experience, I never had the chance to visit a zoo or an
aquarium as a kid/teenager, but had a close relation to nature through hiking
trips, picnics in forests etc., which might have contributed to my high
pro-environmental behaviour. Could there be another way?
On Pathway to
connectedness, Wesley Shultz
Research is proving that zoos and aquariums can foster cultures of
care and conservation by connecting people to nature, and it is hard to argue
otherwise even if the topic is on the edge of the ethical treatment of wild
animals. A study done in 2003 by researchers at the University of Oxford (http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/02/science/02CAGE.html) argues that “wide-ranging carnivores do so poorly in captivity
that zoos should either drastically improve their conditions or stop keeping
them altogether”. The concept of wild animals kept in captivity for educational
and recreational purposes has seen a massive media debate after the killing of
Harambe the gorilla at Cincinnati Zoo in May 2016. Though zoos promote
connectedness to nature, one could also argue that keeping animals in captivity
for human related experiences generates from an egoistic set of values.