While I admire the cause promoted here and appreciate the great work that zoos and other conservation-oriented organizations are doing to help educate the public and to preserve endangered species, I have mixed feelings about the experiences that I have when I visit them.
I first felt uncomfortable in these situations when visiting a gorilla enclosure many years ago—these obviously highly intelligent and self-aware creatures looked (to my anthropomorphic eyes) to be miserable to be on display. I know they are probably going to go extinct in the wild during my lifetime, so its great to be able to experience them while its still possible. But I can’t help thinking that some of those last few individuals constrained in zoos are living very circumscribed lives while they still have lives to live. I have been locked up before. Its not fun. Same thing obviously with marine mammals in parks—I’ll forego naming names. While many cetacean species will probably survive longer in wild habitats than the higher primates will, I still can’t help feeling that I’m not enlightened by their individual captivity, just saddened, even in their most charming moments.