I read this article with some interest:
What the tropical nation of Costa Rica lacks in size, it more than makes up for in a wealth of biodiversity. Despite occupying just 0.03% of the planet’s surface, the region’s lush forests are home to an incredible 500 thousand unique organisms — representing over 4% of all the known species on Earth. For the hundreds of animals held captive in the country’s zoos, however, that hotbed of life had been replaced by the cold bars of a cage.
But now, in a remarkable push to restore natural order for all its animal inhabitants, the Costa Rican government has announced plans to close its zoos, freeing creatures from their long captivity.
“We are getting rid of the cages and reinforcing the idea of interacting with biodiversity in botanical parks in a natural way,” said Environment Minister René Castro. “We don’t want animals in captivity or enclosed in any way unless it is to rescue or save them.”
I like zoos, but I find my feelings are more and more mixed, the older I get. Plenty of zoos work hard to approximate their animals’ native living conditions as best they can, which is certainly a vast improvement over the “big cage with walls painted to look like Africa” kind of thing I remember from when I was a kid. But now I’m wondering if even that is too much by way of captivity. (Places like Seaworld and Marineland? Fuhgeddaboudit.)
And what about aquariums? I doubt I’ll ever lose my fascination with those, and I’m already really excited about a new, glittering aquarium that is set to open in Toronto later this year.
So…zoos? Aquariums? What are your thoughts on them?
I'm with you. I really love aquariums, but zoos make me sad, except maybe large, natural habitat aviaries, where the birds are bred and hatched in captivity. But for everyone else, I think animal parks are a much better way to go.
Unfortunately, were screwing up the earth too much. There are animals that ONLY exist in captivity or are approaching that. I'm OLD enough to remember lions in cages, so I'm inclined to say yes to zoos. Now the CIRCUS, on the other hand…
It really depends on the animals. Small animals are often perfectly happy in zoos. Others that domesticate well, like camels and elephants, do well under certain conditions.
Animals with huge ranges that can't be domesticated I always feel sorry for. That includes polar bears, tigers and lions.