Going to the zoo is an activity that children adore and parents look forward to. Whether it's for a field trip, a church picnic or a day out with the family, Americans find themselves going to their local zoos year after year. While this may seem like a fun and harmless activity, in recent years it has turned into a nightmare.
A few years ago, the Pittsburgh Zoo found itself as the setting for a tragic event when a young boy fell into an exhibit of African Painted Dogs and was killed. The zoo and parents of the boy faced horrific backlash from the general public for a series of different things because people could not believe something like this could happen.
However, it could happen and it would happen again when another young boy found his way into a Gorilla exhibit at the Cincinatti Zoo. But instead this time, the victim of the tragedy was the rare gorilla breed that was shot. Luckily, the young boy survived.
While people tend to blame either the zoos or the parents, it is time to look at the situation and blame something else: ourselves. In both situations, the animals at fault were reacting as they would in the wild. They live in confined areas mimicking the home they are used to as a species, but are constantly being observed by humans. Are we really surprised when their small piece of territory is intruded upon by one of us?
America needs to reevaluate its zoos. Oftentimes, they are underfunded and lack the money to construct exhibits that satisfy the animals' needs. There are polar bears living in Pittsburgh and giraffes in Sacramento. While some zoos go through many efforts to make the lives of these creatures as similar to their lives in the wild, they will always fall short because it's not the real deal.
Zoos provide a great home for some endangered species that could not survive in the wild on their own. They can be a way to see the world without ever having to travel further than an hour from home. But they need to be funded more and they should reconsider what animals they have and where. If this is done, tragedies can be prevented and the livelihood of the animals can be improved, something most people can agree upon.