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how do you feel about zoos? - Page 3

post #41 of 79
What an interesting thread! I agree, it all has to do with which zoo you are visiting. I also agree it has so much to do with WHAT you do at the zoo.

We are members at the Columbus Zoo, which I think is the best I have ever visited, but admittedly, a part of that is because of HOW we treat our visits. We talk about geography, where animal habitats are, what they eat in the wild, we talk about nursing animals, vegetarian animals (we are a nursing, vegetarian family), we talk about how we are animals, connections to the environment, etc. We reference books we are reading at home, and use map puzzles to help retain information.

I get that we are "different" visitors than most to the zoo. Maybe I am just trying to justify? All I can say is, at our zoo, where I know about where the animals come from and how they are treated (have attended trainings both professionally and personally), I feel comfortable taking my son to the zoo.

I do agree, kids get exposure to certain animals, and learn empathy (given the right education) from seeing them. I think there was a Mothering article that talked about this at one point, but referencing the outdoors? About how learning about endangered species doesn't help a child to love the environment nearly as much as simply being outdoors, and being in nature? Not sure if these two connect, but there it is.

Keep up the discussion!
post #42 of 79
This is an issue I struggled with as well, mostly back in high school when I, too, was a member of PETA (and no, quitting membership to PETA doesn't mean you stop caring about animals). I agree with those who have said it depends on the zoo, and really it is up to you to decide what is right for your family. But I wanted to share my perspective as an environmental educator. I ran an aquarium (smallish, geared toward kids, but run by a larger aquarium) and I am part of a local professional organization that includes educators from the zoo and other organizations. That said, a couple of points:

1) When people came to my aquarium they learned a lot - we had signs everywhere and interacted with our visitors as much as possible. We were small, so we had a lot more opportunities for that. We also caught our animals from the wild (fish, seastars, crabs, etc.). These animals (particularly the inverts) cannot be bred. But the response of kids and adults - the fact that people had grown up in this state and never seen these animals - was mindblowing. People don't know that snails make shells and hermit crabs don't, some people don't even know that shells were part of living animals. They don't know seastars and sand dollars are ALIVE. So the individual educational component is much greater than you might think. And education really is the first step.

2) Zoos and aquariums do a tremendous amount of scientific and conservation work. I encourage you to look into the efforts of your local zoos. Go there and ask them. The people who work there want to talk to you about it.

3) When you talk about educational efforts, you have to look at the big picture as well. Camps and school programs, public lectures, etc. are all a part of it, not just the signs you read. A great deal of research has shown that kids go through stages, and the first thing they need is exposure to their local environment - so, yes, take your kids outside!! Show them what lives in the backyard. But I don't think this is counterposed to zoos. One word of caution: research shows that doom and gloom should be saved for older kids. Younger children will distance themselves from the environment if they are taught all about vanishing species and rainforest destruction etc. before really developing a sense of connection to their own place (see the work of David Sobel)

Alright, sorry for the tome. I have a lot to say on this issue, as you can see.
post #43 of 79
I am a current member of Peta. I do not agree with some things they do, but I give them credit where it is due. Anyway, I still believe it depends on the zoo.

There are/were little hells-on-earth like the Catskill Game Farm that showcase(d) much of what is wrong with far far too many zoos and there are some really amazing animal parks where the animals have natural environments, places to hide and not be seen by visitors, appropriate stimulation and opportunities to be what they are.

I would like to see all crappy zoos and horrid little roadside nightmares shut down forever, but I support places that actually help animals, that rehabilitate and release when possible and educate the public about endangered species, habitat destruction and the true nature of animals and our ecosystem. So some zoos I loathe, and some I love.
post #44 of 79
Well, someone has to chime in on behalf of the zoological field, so here I go...
I work as an educator at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. I thought it prudent to let you ladies in on some of the amazing things my zoo has done for wild animals
Quote:
Originally Posted by susumama View Post
No species has ever been 'saved' - meaning brought back from the endangered list in the wild by the effort of zoos. Zoos do not breed animals so that they can rehabitate them into the wild. they breed them to keep them on display and trade with other zoos. The gene pool they work with is too small to repopulate a species.
This statement is blatently wrong. In addition to the California condor the (of which we have hatched nearly half of the worlds current population) we are breeding several species for reintroduction in the wild. The Giant Panda, the Scimitar horned oryx which is an exterpated (extinct in the wild) species, the Arabian Oryx (every single animal, with the exception of natural births, in the wild has come through the Wild Animal Park), the Przswalski's Wild Horse (on the 3rd wave of reintroduction), the Indian rhinoceros (currently only 1500 in the world and we breed them here, then send them to preserves in India -we don't send them to "the wild" as poaching is out of control), the Northern White Rhinoceros (there are currently 10 animals left in the world, in two zoos, as the were poached to extinction in the wild, and there is a team of vets and geneticists desperately trying to save this barely breeding population), and the one we are most famous for, the Southern White Rhinoceros. We were the first facility to figure out the optimal living conditions to make these animals comfortable enough to breed. As far as saving wild animals, three years ago we saved 11 African elephants from being culled (killing a few to save the whole population form starving) in Swaiziland. It cost us $1 million per elephant to put them on a plane and fly them to the US. The Lowry Park zoo took 4, we took 7. It costs a riduculous amount of money to care for those elephants, keeper salary alone is over $280k per year, for the rest of their lives. They were teenagers when we saved them and live around 60 years. This is a small sampling of what we are doing for endagered species. We have three facilities run by the Zoological Society of San Diego: The San Diego Zoo, The Wild Animal Park, and CRES which stands for The Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Species. It used to be called Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species, but we do so much more than that there so the name was changed. We are also working to save endangered plants through our seed bank, wich collects and stores every native plant in San Diego, home to Coastal Sage Scrub, one of the most endangered habitats in the world. Half of our 1800 acres is set aside and untouched to preserve this habitat. I work with many people who believe in the conservation work our Zoological Society is doing. We all work very hard, for very little money, in all sorts of capacites, to make the Wild Animal Park a wonderful place to visit, so people will come, and spend money, so we can spend that money on saving more animal species and their habitats. We are a non-profit organization, every penny we make above operating costs goes back to conservation efforts. The work I do is not directly saving a species. I am not a vet, or a geneticist, or a researcher, but I am an educator and it is my job to inspire people to care about what we are doing so that they will support us and we can continue our conservation efforts. If I can influence one person to make a small change in their life that leads them down the road to living mindfully and helping to conserve our planet, then I feel that day has been a success.

I am painfuly aware that not every zoo is like the one I work in, but you should know that any accredited American zoo exhibiting threatened or endangered species, and many international zoos, are following the SSP (Species Survival Plan) for every one of those species. The SSP is cooperative effort among facilites to save a species through breeding and reintroduction. All the genetic information for each individual animal in the SSP is known to ensure enough genetic diversity to sustain a population. Zoos are the reason animals are being saved from extinction. Sea World is the single largest contributor to ocean realted conservation efforts. (I don't even like Sea World for reasons all my own) People come to zoos to be entertained and we do our best to enlighten while they are there.

If you don't like zoos, then don't go. There are many other ways for you to support conservation, in your daily life or through monetary support. But before you decide zoos are evil and you will never expose your children to them, please do a little research into the work some facilities are doing. We depend on the children of mindful women like you to grow up and want to make a difference, and they have to find that inspiration somewhere. If they have never seen what we are doing, how will they be exposed to it? Check out this website http://cres.sandiegozoo.org/ and learn about the myriad of projects going on all over the world that are supported by people coming to the zoo and spending money on overpriced souveniers and nachos. If an article is written in Mothering, I would like to participate on behalf of the zoological field. Thanks for reading, I'll get off my soap box now.
post #45 of 79
veralevitt I'm PMing you now!
post #46 of 79
As a child, in the 70s, my parents, who could have never afforded to take me to Africa, decided to take me to Thoiry a Zoological Park http://www.thoiry.net/index.2.php?lang=en near Paris. Even as a child I never liked zoos. In fact, I wouldn't go b/c I kept crying seeing all the animal caged and/or poorly groomed. I don't cry anymore, but I feel sorry for them even when it is necessary to continue the species, which, btw, we are slowly destroying every day for the most part with our predatory, careless living habits. So, this Zoological Park didn't sound much different to me, but I'm a kid and who am I go argue with mom?

To my surprise, we never set foot out of the car; we were the one caged. I recall the cars following a predetermined path with rangers also in their rovers making sure everyone was safely driving at snail pace. I also vividly recall, a lion in the middle of this path. The column came to a halt; we were not supposed to drive off the path. All we could do is wait; no cell phones back then. The lion proceeded to look at the car and it's passengers like a supermarket shopper checking out the prepackaged lunch meat. He finally decided the package was sealed tight and jumped on the trunk of the car to drool over the yummies inside. All I could think was, why couldn't it be our car. What a beautiful animal!

I do feel sorry for those animals in close quarters or badly groomed, but this was not the case and when I recall the delight I felt as a child when we went through this park, I wouldn't trade that experience for something else. My mother taught me respect for animals and I carry that with me always. I can't change zoos, but I can start at home, by nurturing whatever nature has entrusted me with, squirrels, raccoons, geese, deer, foxes (what's left of them thanks to urbanism), birds, flowers, insects.... and I try not to exacerbate whatever global issues we are faced with, namely global warming, sustainability, being green as far as my wallet can take me. Ironically, people despise animals that adapted to our plundering of the earth, geese, raccoons etc, but we all worry about the drowning polar bear.

I'm pregnant right now. I plan to take my child to the zoo when s/he is born and like my mother, I'll teach him/her to respect animals. I, too, cannot afford to go to Africa. I hear there is a park in Florida just like the one in France: http://www.lioncountrysafari.com/ , a drive-through cageless zoo.

Hormonally yours
post #47 of 79
I am not vegan/veg. I own a zoo membership (for the first time ever this year!) : I used to go to the zoo all the time as a kid, and while I don't remember if I particularly liked it all that much, I do remember it being a part of my childhood. So there it is. I have thought to myself of whether I should support the zoo, or if it's even all that interesting for my daughter, who doesn't seem overly enthusiastic about it most of the time. The only reason we bought the membership this year is because I thought I would get more use out of it now that I am a SAHM.

Thank you for this thread though. I have nothing substantial to add to it but have gotten much fodder for thought here :


Quote:
Originally Posted by TeaLeaf View Post
To my surprise, we never set foot out of the car; we were the one caged. I recall the cars following a predetermined path with rangers also in their rovers making sure everyone was safely driving at snail pace. I also vividly recall, a lion in the middle of this path. The column came to a halt; we were not supposed to drive off the path. All we could do is wait; no cell phones back then. The lion proceeded to look at the car and it's passengers like a supermarket shopper checking out the prepackaged lunch meat. He finally decided the package was sealed tight and jumped on the trunk of the car to drool over the yummies inside. All I could think was, why couldn't it be our car. What a beautiful animal!
Now THAT is an experience!
post #48 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Socialist Mama View Post
I agree with those who have said it depends on the zoo, and really it is up to you to decide what is right for your family.
This comment really rubs me the wrong way-even though I know it wasnt meant to do so. I think that families will get along just fine without going and gawking at animals behind bars. This isnt about determining what is right for your family, it is about determining if you do or do not respect and care for all species and what their natural/healthy habitat is. There is not one person that needs to go to the zoo because it is "what is right for their family."
Some people beat their children or eat at Mcdonalds everyday because they believe it is right for them. This doesnt make it right!
post #49 of 79
http://www.novoiceunheard.org/

Thought to Exist in the Wild:
Awakening from the Nightmare of Zoos
Text by Derrick Jensen
Photographs by Karen Tweedy-Holmes


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist
To counter most books being written about zoos that present zoos favorably, never questioning their very existence, activist Jenkins and photographer Karen Tweedy-Holmes produce their examination of what zoos are and what their effect is on their animal inmates and the human animals who observe them. Jensen writes in a deliberately polemical style, challenging the reader with language that is in turn sarcastic and poetic but always urgent and angry. A zoo is a nightmare taking shape in concrete and steel. Tweedy-Holmes' photos, in stark black and white, are views of animals in obvious incarceration--bars or mesh often obscure the view; cement-formed pools, rocks, ledges, or walls predominate; doors, walls, and buildings hint at unnatural enclosures; and the animals are all obviously captive. Captions give the species and where they are found in the wild, though not which zoo is illustrated (a photographer's note at the end lists them). A good choice for presenting the other side in the moral debate about zoos. Nancy Bent
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Bill Maher, Comedian, Host of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher
Finally, someone has the courage to question zoos. Animals in zoos are not ambassadors teaching us about the natural world, they're unwilling prisoners, teaching us how we as humans seem to need to dominate every living being on the planet. This is a brave book and a much needed voice on behalf of the animals.
-------------------

I won't go to zoos, but it's okay if Grandpa takes her. Then she can make up her own mind about them. I haven't read this book, but I've read most of his others. I don't think I can bring myself to read this one, but I already know I don't like zoos.

Really glad to see this thread as I had been thinking about it a lot.

Thanks,

Amy
post #50 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by vermontgirl View Post
This comment really rubs me the wrong way-even though I know it wasnt meant to do so. I think that families will get along just fine without going and gawking at animals behind bars. This isnt about determining what is right for your family, it is about determining if you do or do not respect and care for all species and what their natural/healthy habitat is. There is not one person that needs to go to the zoo because it is "what is right for their family."
Some people beat their children or eat at Mcdonalds everyday because they believe it is right for them. This doesnt make it right!
I agree that what we are discussing isn't simply the educational and entertainment value of zoos. If we were it would be completly a matter of what works for ones own family.

We are discussing the ethical and moral value of zoos, so there is a tendancy to think in absolutes.

However, I truely believe that a well run zoo is doing more that is of possitive value for animals and the enviornment than negative. Veralevitt's post explains this much better than I could.

On a day when I need to get DS out of the house I have a choice.
  • I can take him to the mall. Where we will be tempted to buy stuff we don't need, much of it made from leather. The food court is full of junk food much of which is meat. The profits go into making more malls that pave our land and sell stuff from exploited people working for pennies a day. etc.
  • OR I can take him to the zoo. Where he can see a little bit of what the world that we are loosing is like. We don't disturb the wild places and animals that do still exist. The profits go to helping save that wild world.
IMO encouraging people to take there children to the zoo is a morally valid thing.
post #51 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by eepster View Post
On a day when I need to get DS out of the house I have a choice.
  • I can take him to the mall. Where we will be tempted to buy stuff we don't need, much of it made from leather. The food court is full of junk food much of which is meat. The profits go into making more malls that pave our land and sell stuff from exploited people working for pennies a day. etc.
  • OR I can take him to the zoo. Where he can see a little bit of what the world that we are loosing is like. We don't disturb the wild places and animals that do still exist. The profits go to helping save that wild world.
IMO encouraging people to take there children to the zoo is a morally valid thing.
You have a third choice - you could take him out into nature for free and perhaps see animals in their natural habitat. You could donate money to organizations that you know are using those funds to help keep animals in the wild where they belong.

Not all zoos adhere to a moral code, according to the Humane Society only about 10% of the more than 2,000 animal exhibibitors liscensed by the USDA are accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. So it's not accurate to say that all zoos are using their profits to help save the wild world, that's simply not true. Some may, but not nearly all.
post #52 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by HelloKitty View Post
You have a third choice - you could take him out into nature for free and perhaps see animals in their natural habitat. You could donate money to organizations that you know are using those funds to help keep animals in the wild where they belong.

Not all zoos adhere to a moral code, according to the Humane Society only about 10% of the more than 2,000 animal exhibibitors liscensed by the USDA are accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. So it's not accurate to say that all zoos are using their profits to help save the wild world, that's simply not true. Some may, but not nearly all.
I live in the suburbs so that would consist of a few squirrels chasing starlings out of a bird feeder, unless I burnt large amounts of CO producing gas to drive to 3 times as far as the fully accerdited nonprofit zoo I live near.
post #53 of 79
What's wrong with squirrels? They are really interesting to watch.
post #54 of 79

Put simply

WE LOVE ZOOS!

Could never, ever imagine home schooling my clan without the extraordinary educational opportunities and experiences that zoos and aquariums bring us.

This is a personal choice and conviction - do what YOU feel is best for your family ... in spite of all the really intense opinions.
post #55 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by HelloKitty View Post
What's wrong with squirrels? They are really interesting to watch.
There isn't anything "wrong" with squirrels or with starling either for that matter. However, there should be more diversety. I should be watching red squirrels instead of the ubiquitous gray squirrels that are everywhere. I should have to fly to england to see starlings and not see huge flocks of them competing with native birds.
post #56 of 79
We go to a zoo-- the staten island zoo-- which isabout 50% nice, 25% mediocre, and 25% scary/ animal cruelty. They have a leopard "exhibit" where 2 leopards have a 15 ft X 15 ft indoor, sunless, plexiglass enclosure where they pace miserably back and forth nonstop. Their eyes are glassy and they look drugged. I've wanted to report this but don't know where. But strangely 50% of the zoo is very nice... the animals look ok. Those are in the newer/ outdoor/ recently built facilities.
post #57 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by KSlager View Post
This is a personal choice and conviction - do what YOU feel is best for your family ... in spite of all the really intense opinions.
Alright, sure. I suppose that in one way it is about people doing what they "feel" is best for their family. I am sure that none of the people who "feel" they somehow need to go to zoo's ever imagine what it must be like to be those animals. Seriously. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in their place. What about what is right for them? I think that EVERYONE who thinks they need to go to zoos could find something just as entertaining and educational elsewhere. Why dont we not subject animals to a lifetime of torture just so that we can have a little fun and education?
post #58 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by meowee View Post
They have a leopard "exhibit" where 2 leopards have a 15 ft X 15 ft indoor, sunless, plexiglass enclosure where they pace miserably back and forth nonstop. Their eyes are glassy and they look drugged. I've wanted to report this but don't know where. .
This is why I can't handle going. I can't handle it emotionally - it really disturbs me. My mom never took me to the zoo as a child but left it up to me when I was a teenager. The things I saw were terrible! Even reading this post makes me mourn for those poor animals that are treated so badly. BTW... where CAN you report such instances? I am happy to learn from reading this thread that GOOD zoos can help in so many ways and I totally looked up the cageless zoo and am looking into that! Regardless, there are too many poor animal living conditions where I live and it makes me sick to my stomach!
post #59 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by HelloKitty View Post
Not all zoos adhere to a moral code, according to the Humane Society only about 10% of the more than 2,000 animal exhibibitors liscensed by the USDA are accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. So it's not accurate to say that all zoos are using their profits to help save the wild world, that's simply not true. Some may, but not nearly all.
Interestingly enough, the local zoo that I was talking about in the earlier post that is all native unreleasable wildlife with huge habitats that feeds organic fruits and veggies, and humanely raised meat to the carnivores (and freseh roadkills when the can get them) is NOT accredited, where the local city zoo that I see as much more questionable is.

There's another local zoo that I have been to that has a couple of REALLY old animals that have signs on their cages saying "We are thin and have bald patches on our skin because we are extrodinarily old, (I mean record breaking old)not because we are sick or mistreated."

I guess I'm kinda spoiled... all but 3 of the zoos I have ever been to are on the accredited list, and of those 3, 2 of them, I think, should be, but might be too small to be on the radar or something, as they are both zoo-sanctuaries that are really great. So in my experience, the bad ones are the exception, not the rule, but I agree that that may not be the case.

I think that the answer to this question really does depend on the zoo.
post #60 of 79
I don't get the posts that talk about zoos that are run well. Seriously, these animals are taken from their homes and families and put in cages or otherwise contained beyond their control. They mourn what they have lost, they are scared, they live sad lives. Would it be okay if someone came and took your child away, caged them, and then justified by saying that your child was going to help inspire awe or compassion in the audience they are put in front of. Heck no! So, why is it okay that we do it to other living beings?
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