Rachel Olson English King 4 December 1, 1999 If you have ever stepped into a zoo, you have stepped into a prison in which the inmates are defenseless and innocent, the sentence is long, and the penalty is cruel and severe. Zoos are not made for educational purposes but for entertainment, they do not benefit animals but push them toward extinction. 'Zoos range in size and quality from cage-less parks to small roadside menageries with concrete slabs and iron bars.' (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) The larger the zoo and the greater the number and variety of the animals it contains, the more it costs to provide quality care for the animals. Although more than 112 million people visit zoos in the U.

S. and Canada every year, most zoos operate at a loss and must find ways to cut costs (which sometimes means selling animals) or add gimmicks that will attract visitors. (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) Zoo officials often consider profits over the animals' well- being.

(Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) A former director of the Atlanta Zoo once remarked that he was 'too far removed from the animals; they " re the last thing I worry about with all the other problems.' (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) Zoos are nothing more than animal prisons maintained for human amusement, not for education. ('Zoocheck'. ) Most zoo enclosures are quite small, Rachel Olson and labels provide little more information than the species name, diet, and natural range. (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons.

) The animals' normal behavior is seldom discussed, much less observed, because their natural needs are seldom met. Birds' wings may be clipped so they cannot fly, aquatic animals often have little water, and the many animals who naturally live in large herds or family groups are often kept alone or, at most, in pairs. (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) Natural hunting and mating behaviors are virtually eliminated by regulated feeding and breeding regimens. (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) The animals are closely confined, lack privacy, and have little opportunity for mental stimulation or physical exercise.

Animals forced to endure such confinement often display abnormal and self-destructive behavior called 'Zoochosis'. (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) Zoochosis is a mental illness; symptoms include pacing, neck twisting, and other repetitive behaviors. ('Zoocheck'. ) A worldwide study of zoos conducted by the Born Free Foundation revealed that Zoochosis is rampant in confined animals around the world. (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons.

) Another study found that elephants spend 22 percent of their time engaging in abnormal behaviors such as repeated head bobbing or biting cage bars, and bears spend about 30 percent of their time pacing, which is a sign of distress. (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) Rachel Olson One sanctuary where rescued zoo animals stay reports seeing frequent signs of Zoochosis. Of chimpanzees, who bite their own limbs from captivity induced stress, the manager says: 'Their hands were unrecognizable from all the scar tissue.' (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) Captivity drives many animals insane, causing them to sink into depression, to fret, to turn in endless circles, and even tear holes in their own skin. ('Zoocheck'.

) More than half the world's zoos are still in bad condition and treating chimpanzees poorly. (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) As for education, zoo visitors usually spend only a few minutes at each display, seeking entertainment rather than enlightenment. A study of a zoo in Buffalo, N. Y.

, found that most people passed cages quickly, and described animals in such terms as 'funny-looking,' 'dirty,' or 'lazy.' (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) This is hardly education. The only things that are being taught are that it is acceptable to capture wild animals (often by killing their mothers), separate them from their families and homes, and confine them in small cages. Zoos claim to protect species from extinction. This sounds like a noble goal, but zoo officials usually favor exotic or popular animals who draw crowds and publicity, and neglect less popular species. (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons.

) Most animals housed in zoos are not endangered, nor are they being prepared for release into Rachel Olson natural habitats. (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) Only 1, 200 zoos out of 10, 000 worldwide are registered for captive breeding and wildlife conservation. (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) Only two percent of the world's threatened or endangered species are registered in breeding programs. (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons.

) Those that are endangered may have their plight worsened by zoos' focus on crowd appeal. (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) Zoos are actually contributing to the near extinction of giant pandas by constantly shuttling the animals from one zoo to another for display. (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) In- breeding is also a problem among captive populations.

(Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) It is all too common for animals to be mistreated in zoos. One example of zoos preforming inhumane acts upon animals is the situation of the three baby elephants who have been the subject of a months-long controversy over their abduction from their families in Botswana, and their beatings and shackling at animal dealer Riccardo Ghiazza's facility in Pretoria, South Africa. (Zoo Target of 'Bloody' Protest Over African Elephants.

) The baby elephants were deprived of food, water, and sleep and were beaten by Indonesian Mahouts in order to break their spirits so they could be sold to zoos, circuses, and safari parks. One of the elephants died of complications stemming from a leg injury that resulted from an unexplained 'accident' at the zoo. (Zoo Target of 'Bloody' Protest Over African Rachel Olson Elephants. ) Animals suffer from more than neglect in zoos.

An African elephant was transferred from the San Diego Zoo to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, she was chained, pulled to the ground, and beaten with ax handles for two days, One witness described the blows as 'home run swings'. (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) Such abuse may be the norm. 'You have to motivate them,' says San Francisco zookeeper Paul Hunter, 'and the way you do that is by beating the hell out of them.' (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) Ten adult animals may be killed to capture one young for a zoo. ('Zoocheck'.

) But what happens when these babies grow up? Zoos often kill animals who are all grown up or that no longer attract visitors. (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) Deer, tigers, lions, and other animals who breed often are sometimes sold to 'game' farmers where hunters pay for the 'privilege' of killing them. (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) Some are killed for meat and / or hides.

(Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) Other 'surplus' animals may be sold to smaller, more poorly run zoos or to laboratories for experiments. (Zoos: Pitiful Prisons. ) Zoos encourage poaching, not conservation. It may not seem that there is anything that you can do to help the situation, but there is. You can start by educating yourself and others.

Don't patronize a zoo Rachel Olson unless you are actively working to change it's conditions. Avoid smaller roadside zoos at all costs. If no one visits these substandard operations, they will be forced to close down. Contact PETA and start your own 'Zoocheck' program in your local zoo. Zoos claim that they are good for research, but the purpose of most zoos' research is to find ways to breed and maintain more animals in captivity. If zoos ceased to exist, so would the need for most of their research.

The key to saving exotic animals lies in saving their habitat, not removing them from it only to be placed in an unnatural and abusive environment. ('Zoocheck'. ) Works Cited Zoo Target of 'Bloody' Protest Over African Elephants PETA News Release web PETA's Action for Activists web 21, Nov. 1999 Zoos: Pitiful Prisons Campaigns web 21, Nov. 1999.