Doing Time Are zoos really safety retreats for exotic animals or wretched prisons When I was a child, I used to think that zoos were cheerful and exciting places to go, wonderful places where humans helped misplaced animals to live happy lives. However, I was very wrong! Fortunately, I was blinded by the clowns and cotton candy and did not see that the animals were not happy or cheerful, and the zoos were not wonderful places. Now that I am an adult, I have come to realize just how pitiful zoos really are. I could not even begin to imagine how horrific it would be if I was taken from my home and locked up in a prison for the rest of my life, even if my captors intended to help. There are well over 100, 000 exotic animals in captivity in the United States, and the numbers are increasing every day. The majority of the animals are incarcerated in zoos.

These facilities were constructed so people can get close to dangerous animals without danger. Zoos claim to educate people and preserve species, but they frequently fall short on both counts. Most zoo enclosures are quite small, and labels provide little more information than the species name, diet, and natural range. The animal s 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 that naturally live in large herds or family groups are often kept alone or at most, in pairs. Natural hunting and mating behaviors are virtually eliminated by regulated feeding and breeding regimens.

The animals are closely confined, lack privacy, and have little opportunity for mental stimulation or physical exercise, resulting in abnormal and self-destructive behavior, called zoochosis. The purpose of the research of most zoos is to find ways to breed and maintain more animals in captivity. If zoos ceased to exist, so would th need for most of their research. Protecting species from extinction sounds like a noble goal, but zoo officials usually favor exotic or popular animals that draw crowds and publicity, and neglect less popular species.

Most animals housed in zoos are not endangered, nor are they being prepared for release into natural habitats. I know that some zoos perform some beneficial services. Without these programs some animals might become extinct. Zoos provide secure atmospheres for exotic animals to live and reproduce safely.

Thus, I do believe that zoos have their good qualities, as well as their very bad ones. I just believe that zoos need to make some big changes in the way they market their business and care for their inhabitants. In conclusion, I have come to realize just how much I really am against the idea of keeping animals in zoos. I feel that there are much better ways to preserve endangered animals, ways that can make the animals lives less confined and sedentary.

Instead of supporting zoos, we should support groups like the International Primate Protection League, The Born Free Foundation, the African Wildlife Foundation, and other groups that work to preserve habitats, not habits.