After reading a recent post by Optimistic Existentialist at Musings of An Unapologetic Dreamer about zoos, I thought I would share my own thoughts. I need material folks. Zoos are, especially now more than ever, quite the hot controversial topic. There are people who feel that they just imprison animals that should be free, and there are people who view them as entertainment. I personally find that they fill out some very valuable roles.
To be honest I don't think I've ever visited what you would call an actual zoo. I don't even know where my nearest one is. I have however visited a marine sanctuary. They primarily focus on seals but they also have plenty of other things there including butterflies, a reptile house, a petting zoo and even penguins. God I love baby seals. Anyway, they are, in a word; awesome. They save seals and they encourage them to breed naturally. I asked them if they have breeding programs and they told me they did not. Seems there's a pregnant seal there almost every time I go though, and new pups that were born in the sanctuary. When they get old enough they get released to the wild. Same with the sick ones they rescue; they're healed and sent back into the wild. They even have a few frequent fliers that they've rescued on numerous occasions. I think we can all agree that animal sancturies do an amazing job. They rescue animals, help protect them, and they're regarded as good guys. Or at least I think about them that way.
Zoos on the other hand get a lot of stigma. Mostly because they are really just seen as entertainment. They have a lot of animals that are also perfectly healthy and very far away from their natural habitat. But zoos do go a long way towards helping the animals feel at home. They also have a lot of breeding programs and take care of a lot of endangered animals. One way to encourage people to care is to show them the animal in need. The main reason people care so damn much about pandas is that they're everywhere. Heck a Scottish zoo even bred some pandas. Zoos fill some necessary roles and, yes, they do make money, but those kinds of things are expensive to run. I can't say I blame them. The seal sanctuary I go to is really small but everything there is so expensive because of how much it costs to run the place.
If a zoo actually buys an animal from the black market, or poaches an animal themselves, then by all means regard them as evil. But try to see the good in them too. Because there is some there.