Why Zoos Are Nothing More Than A Trophy Case

Why Zoos Are Nothing More Than A Trophy Case

And why the only "good" zoos are the ones for conservation and education

Despite my love for animals, I am not a fan of zoos or aquariums. I have never been to a zoo and I do not approve of petting zoos at state fairs. I have been to Disney's Animal Kingdom, and I have listened to their lectures about their animals and why those animals are there. I agree with Disney's intent, but that does not mean I am changin gmy stance on zoos. I recently went to a really sad aquarium and I wish I could've rescued all of the animals. Granted the most of the captive animals were classified as "cannot release" by the government, but still- I do not like zoos or aquariums.

Innocent animals are being slaughtered. In February of 2014, a Danish zoo killed a perfectly healthy giraffe and then fed its carcass to the captive lions in front of a live audience, which included young children. Copenhagen Zoo had euthanized “Marius”, the young giraffe to avoid inbreeding. Bengt Holst, the scientific director at the Copenhagen Zoo told CNN reporters that their “...giraffes are part of an international breeding program, which has a purpose of ensuring a sound and healthy population of giraffes” and that sterilizing Marius “... he [would] take up space for more genetically valuable giraffes” (Naik and Gumuchian, n.p.). Cecil, a well-known male lion living on the Hwange Game Reserve in Zimbabwe, was lured away and killed illegally by a group of big game trophy-hunters on July 1, 2015. The death of Cecil was a big tragedy due to the fact that the thirteen year old lion has been the subject of research for over a decade with the Wildlife Unit of Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Cecil and Marius’s story is a common one among game reserves and zoos.

The first zoo was not actually built for the public. In 2400 BC, Shulgi the ruler of Ur, now present-day Southeast Iraq, started the first collection of exotic animals. In 1000 BC, Emperor Wen Wang of China later built a zoo to display his wealth and power. Named the “Garden of Intelligence”, the zoo spanned over 1500 acres and held animals from all over his empire, with the main attraction being the Giant Panda. The oldest zoo still in existence is the Tiergarten Schonbrunn built in 1752 for the imperial family in Vienna, Austria; it was opened up to the public in 1779 and is believed to be the first public zoo. The collection of wild animals has served many purposes throughout history since they first came into existence. The first zoos were built to display tremendous wealth and power, putting animals on display as if they were trophies to be gazed upon in reverence.

Animals are not trophies, nor should they be treated as such.

While the zoos in today’s society claim that their vocation is to serve science, conservation, and animal welfare, other members of the public would prefer to ban these institutions. Zoos and aquariums built for the purpose of entertainment should not be allowed to continue their malpractice because zoos cause detrimental effects on the animals by holding animals in unsuitable habitats, denying them of the life dictated by their genes, and trading the animals with other zoos as if they are baseball cards to satisfy display needs.

Zoos have detrimental effects on the health of captive animals. While zoos express a concern for the animals and their well-being, PETA believes that zoos are merely a “collection of interesting animals” rather than the havens they are thought to be (Carr). Zoos continue to capture wild animals to put on public display. In 1978, African elephants were listed as “threatened” under the United States Endangered Species Act. As of 2008, African elephants were reclassified as “vulnerable” as the world had seen an increase in their population size. In 2003, eleven African elephants were captured by the San Diego Wild Animal Park and Lowry Park Zoo, despite their E.P.A. listing of “threatened”.

Zoos are imprisoning animals who “want to be free”. According to Michelle Carr, PETA’s Action Team Coordinator, captive animals are “deprived of everything that is natural and important to them,”. The living conditions in zoos are anything but natural. Even the best artificial environment is no match for animals’ natural habitat. Confined to tight, barren, dismal enclosures, captive animals are denied their most basic needs and often begin to suffer from a common condition in imprisoned animals known as “zoochosis”. In 1992, Bill Travers, co-founder of the Born Free Organization, coined the term "zoochosis" to describe the odd, repetitive, compulsive behaviors associated with animals in captivity. Zoochosis can be characterized as many unnatural behaviors such as pacing, head bobbing, over-grooming, and self-mutilation. Abnormal aggressive behavior is a common and dangerous characteristic, where an animal's aggression is uncontrolled, in terms of intensity and frequency, or directed to the wrong individuals or objects. Abnormal aggressive behavior can be the result of overcrowding, isolation from companions or pressure from zoo visitors.

Of course zoo life would be ideal, if zoos did not inhumanely treat the animals and cause them to suffer from detrimental health problems, but society does not want certain species to go extinct. According to the Born Free Foundation in the United Kingdom, there are currently close to 5,624 species of vertebrate animals on the brink of extinction. World Wildlife Fund puts this in perspective with a detailed list that includes seventeen species of animals listed as “critically endangered” such as the Black Rhino and thirty-three species as “endangered”, which includes the Asian Elephant, and Bengal Tiger (n.p.). In 2014, the World Wildlife Fund, in collaboration with the London Zoological Society, published a study entitled “Living Planet Report 2014” that addressed the issue of species loss across the world by measuring trends in thousands of vertebrate species across the globe has shown a 52% decline from 1970 to 2010. In simpler terms, the number of animals, including amphibians, reptiles, birds, and fish, is half the size it was forty years ago. Habitat loss and exploitation through hunting and fishing are the main reasons for this drastic incline.

People- wake up and stop destroying our planet for the sake of the animals, and for the human race!

Cover Image Credit: HomeAway

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.

Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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A Walk Through The Woods That Eased My Pain

After a week of constant pain, a walk through pine flatwoods helped me feel alive and at peace.


A week of constant pain left me exhausted. All I wanted to do was lie in bed. I didn't want to go anywhere, but my husband wanted to work from the park, so we went. After sitting on the bench for a while, uncomfortable and aching, I remembered sometimes when you're in pain it helps to walk it off, so I decided to take the trail through the woods.

The woods at this park, like most parks in Florida, are made up of various tall pines and low-lying shrubs. It is called a pine flatwood. I walked the path slowly, not in a rush to get anywhere, just there to enjoy it. The pine left a sweet odor. Slash pines and longleaf pines towered above, their long straight trunks topped with long bright green needles that stood against the blue Florida sky.

My back still ached a little but felt much better, so I kept moving. The path weaved through the woods. Partially shaded by the trees. People passed me, but I didn't mind. They were busy exercising; I was busy enjoying. I loved the dense saw palmetto that lined the forest floor. Some woods are darker or mostly brown colored, especially on the floor that is often covered in fallen wood and leaves, but not these woods, these woods are vibrant shades of green, green that makes you feel alive. It made me feel more alive than I had in days.

Typically, when I take walks in the park, I spend time watching the birds, seeing which ones I can identify. This time on the trail there weren't many birds, so my attention was drawn to the pines, palmettos, and other plants instead. Often, these plants go unnoticed, serving as a backdrop to the more exciting parts of nature. But as I turned my attention to the trees, I noticed how stunning they were.

I looked up noticing how their branches spread in front of the sky. Then I looked at the endless palmettos, extending through the woods. The trees towered above me, yet they were a comfort, a shelter, that helped take my mind off the aching. The trees are still and peaceful, helping me to be still too. To stand confidently and breathe, and to also rest, clear my head, and know that it'll all be okay.

I walked through the trees for a while, not wanting to stop. It's important we all learn from trees. In their still, patience they know things that we fast-paced humans often forget in our busy lives. Life needs to be enjoyed, slowed down and still, our minds and our bodies. And when we do, it's healing. Walk slowly, take it in, notice the trees that we often forget to notice because they are still, but that doesn't mean they aren't the wisest of us all.

My aching was not cured, but as I returned from my walk, I felt at peace, rejuvenated, alive. Like the bright green towering pines, I stood proud and breathed in the fresh air.

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