I, too, understand the dilemma of visiting zoos. It took my husband and I a long time to finally decide to take our daughter to one this year. She is five years old and her interest in animals and habitats is insatiable. I had a particularly difficult time making eye contact with the gorillas; it almost felt like making eye contact with another human. It all seemed so sad and unfair; not just the confinement, but what we've done to the Earth to make that confinement the safer option for a lot of the animals. On the other hand, it was very exciting and educational for my daughter to see so many of the animals we have read about. Even though it is difficult for me, we probably will return occasionally as she and her knowledge about the animals grows.
I know what you mean about becoming vegan changing a lot of things, when we thought it was only about food at first.
I do know kids benefit from the teaching experience of zoos. (Some of those very kids may go on to become veteranarians or zoologist or scientist...or may be the one kid who creates the most humane zoo in the world (or on the opposite end: may be the one who finally gets zoo's outlawed!) So there IS a benefit when it comes to children, I think.
If I were you, I would go and enjoy myself...at least this time...if only for the sake of having some quality time with your spouse. Maybe you can make your decision about zoos "after" this visit?
I once went to a major zoo out in Arizona with my sister. Most of the animals looked like they had it good there---and the spaces were so big for some animals that we never even saw them! Wide open fields! Only a few critters seemed to have it worse, and best I recall these were things like spiders and crabs and such who were in this one room in individual aquarium-type cages. I know...who cares about spiders being trapped...and yet it's hard to see any creature who's world has been reduced to a few feet, when in nature they are used to wide open spaces.
So I'd go and enjoy some time together and decide afterwards if that's your last zoo visit or not. Who knows...maybe conditions have improved even more at that particular zoo.
T E R R Y
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I don't go to zoos. Honestly, saving elephants is Africa's problem, the same way that saving eastern quolls (a victim of cats, essentially) is ours. I don't think zoos really do much for conservation. I'd rather see public money - and most zoos do have subsidies - put into reserves. And education regarding threatened and disappearing species to take place through sensitive visits, habitat rehabilitation activities and so on in those reserves. Zoos reinforce the notion that animals exist for human amusement. It's a bit subtler than circuses, but it's there. A zoo does not exist to preserve polar bears or whatever. It exists to display animals to the public.Conservation values are a by-product...I think being a clever species we can find ways to promote conservation without being the eternal jailers of threatened species.
I think good zoos are important. Most children would never get to see animals and find out about their habitats and conservation and develop the caring attitude that is appropriate without being able to be amazed at their beauty. I think it is okay that they feel uncomfortable at them being prisoners, even though they are treated well. It helps them ask questions and ponder the importance of humans taking care of the earth and its creatures.
I think if you have a zoo with small cages in your locale, it would be appropriate for you to raise money and ensure that the animals are humanely treated.
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well the zoo in my area has alot of endangered animals and big areas for the animals. The small cages they still have are soon to be redone. I'm glad they have alot of the endangered animals cause it would be very sad if if the animals would not be around. and those animals are getting great care.
I also think while saving endangerd animals, teaching kids about the animals while seeing them is also important, which is something else the zoo in my area does.
Here is what I don't like at the zoo, the food they serve people, besides not being vegan it is fried and more fried. We are supose to be in the nature and we get chicken nugget and fries...I find that a little crazy....I bring my own food.
Yeah I know exactly how you feel. When I was in middle school I went to the aquarium all excited because it was my first time and I love animals. It was all good and well until I watched the dolphin show and I had this horrible feeling watching it. I knew, even at 13, that there was something wrong with the dolphin show and essentially holding these animals, in my mind, captive. I love the zoo and I am lucky that I live in a town that has a rescue zoo. This zoo saves abandoned and abused animals from horrible situations. So if I were to go to other zoos I would have to make sure it was a rescue zoo because I know the animals have a much better life then they did previously.
My family loves to visit the zoo, too. Like you, I feel torn when I go. The habitats that are created by the zoo we visit seem wonderful. The animals have plenty of space to roam, and most of the animals seem contented and happy. However, I wonder what it must be like for them to have 1000's of people gawk at them all of the time and then I feel sorry for them. There are some species such as gorillas and polar bears that seem better off in the zoos because out in the wild, their habitats are disappearing and they are hunted and they are in danger of extinction, so then I think that maybe zoos do serve a good purpose. I don't know. It's a hard dilemna. It would be nice if all animals could live free and not have to worry about the danger of poachers and developers, but unfortunately, that's not the reality in today's world.
I had that issue before. My family went to a seafood place for my last non vegan meal and I just couldn't look at the sea life in the aquariums. We were celebrating 3 family members birthdays. They were big tanks with even a shark I think. I was supposed to go to the zoo with niece and sister in law for Memorial Day. Was going to do that only to visit with them. Was kind of relieved to not have to go. I became a vegan for ethical reasons as well as health related ones. So I do understand.
Edited by: HAGIN2010 at: 6/5/2012 (15:41)
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So here's the thing: my husband and I plan a trip to a zoo a couple of hours away maybe once every 5 years. We're planning on going tomorrow and suddenly I'm not sure how I feel about it. Yikes--going vegan started out to be all about food for me, because I was vegetarian for 26 years, I was already hip to the plight of animals--or so I thought. I had no idea that changing my diet would change ME so much. It's strange and something I should ponder and write more about.
I've always enjoyed going to this zoo. It's a "nice" one--enclosures so big that one isn't guaranteed to even see the animals, I don't know,,,,I'm really surprised at my feelings about this. The truth is we'll go and I'll see how I feel. My husband is very understanding [he went vegan too, bless him!] and won't freak if we drive 2 hours and I end up telling him that i just can't do it.
I do know that I absolutely can't support those zoos with little enclosures or cages, so I'll not be frequenting those ever again.
Has this post even made any sense? I'm just kind of thinking it out here. What do you think? Do you visit zoos?
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