Zoos aren’t what you think they are

Tilikum, the orca, and his trainer, Dawn Brancheau, perform their 22nd aquarium show. Who knew this would be the last show that Brancheau would ever perform? (Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons)

Imagine being taken from your home, forced to live with hundreds of unknown people, and starved almost every night. According to National Geographic of 2017, this is how 62 percent of United States zoo companies treat wildlife animals once taken from their homes.

Although most zoos are focused on revenue and entertainment from their customers, in St. Louis, Canada, there are multiple zoos specifically made to take in injured and homeless wildlife. The St. Louis Zoo of Endangered Species often takes in endangered rhinoceroses, but the list of extinct animals still grows longer every decade. Unfortunately, not all zoos can care for wildlife.

Once companies capture wildlife, they sell and trade the animals. Removing animals from their original homes causes them to live in continuous maelstrom, which is extremely scarring. Zoos and aquariums are part of the reason why our most prized animals are going extinct. For example, orca whales have been in danger of going extinct for thirteen years now.

Many zoo-goers believe that a zoo is a like a sanctuary for wildlife, a safe haven for animals.That is simply not true. Keeping wildlife in confinement causes their lives to become short-lived. According to the People of the Ethical Treatment of Animals organization (PETA), more than half of the zoos in the United States care for their animals in a perfunctory fashion.

The saying, “Out with the old and in with the new,” is a zoo’s favorite catchphrase. As zoos and aquariums become famous for their abundance of baby animals, curators decide to kick out the older animals and release them into the wild so that their younger animals can draw in more revenue.

Not only does placing animals in captivity cause them to live much shorter lives than free-roam animals, but  it also influences some animals to turn violent, killing and attacking American employees. From the article of The Trio of Deaths, by the Dolphin Project Society, there have been three significant deaths caused by an orca whale, named Tilikum.

In 2010, one of SeaWorld’s most optimum orca trainers was killed by Tilikum. Dawn Brancheau’s attack resulted with her left arm detached from her body and parts of her scalp ripped from her head. Approximately three hours after the attack, she was pronounced dead.

Not only did Brancheau’s death negatively impact SeaWorld, but Tilikum did as well. Tilikum was forced into isolation and a smaller confined pool, where he became known as “the elephant in the room.” Had Tilikum never been taken from his original home, and treated badly, Brancheau could still be alive and well today. Due to the investigations and research for The Outside Magazine article, SeaWorld stated, “Every safety protocol we had, failed. That is why we don’t have our friend, that is why we are taking a step back.”

Wildlife is a quiddity of the world; without them, our greenlife would have nothing to provide for. If our woodland creatures were left alone, many of the extinct species may still be living today, and baby animals would not be kicked out into the wild. Unfortunately, if American zoo companies continue to take wildlife and place them into confinement, we will constantly be hurting these innocent animals that make the world go round.


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