The problem with zoos

The recent story regarding the proposed introduction of pandas to Wellington zoo is just the latest in a string of controversial stories about animals in captivity here in New Zealand.

When we choose to keep animals in captivity, we take away not only their freedom, but also their ability to follow natural instincts and perform even the most basic behaviours such as sourcing their own food and choosing a mate. Even the best zoo in the world cannot come close to replicating an animal’s natural environment, and claims of conservation are often over-stated.

In New Zealand alone, 2015 paints a sad picture when it comes to zoos:

  • Iwani, a male gibbon, at Auckland zoo was euthanised after suffering from ‘severe depression.’ The zoo said, “We were unable to meet his welfare needs.”
  • In June, Anjalee, an elephant from Sri Lanka arrived at Auckland zoo amidst heavy criticism based on welfare fears. She will spend the rest of her life confined with only one other elephant companion, Burma, unable to roam large distances with her herd as she would in the wild.
  • In September we heard the tragic news that zookeeper, Samantha Kudeweh, had been killed by a tiger at Hamilton zoo. Sadly this death isn’t the first and won’t be the last – wild animals are not designed to be kept caged and brought into close contact with humans.
  • The same month, PM John Key announced that tax increases could be used to pay for the import of pandas to Wellington zoo. Panda’s are endangered and breed notoriously slowly. These beautiful animals need protection in their natural habitat, not to be shipped around the world and put on display.

Even when events don’t make the news, for animals held captive every day brings monotony and frustration.

Take action

Find out more about why zoos are bad for animals and what you can do to help.

2 October 2015