When you’re a child and visit the zoo, the experience can be magical — as well as a bit confusing. This is because, the beasts (from lions and hyenas to elephants and flamingos) tend to behave differently than they do on television shows, such as the Discovery Channel.
Many zoo animals exhibit signs of zoochosis. Symptoms include rocking back and forth, hitting themselves and showing outward signs of depression. Sometimes, the animals are so frustrated by life in captivity, they even lash out.
In the following video, you can witness the latter. A young girl, rightly infatuated with the “King of the Jungle,” presses her nose against the glass and gives the big cat a kiss. At first, the lion just stares at her. Perhaps this is because zoo visitors are his only form of stimulation.
After a while, the mild entertainment fades and his animalistic side kicks in. In the blink of an eye, he becomes irritated and stands up on his hind legs as he claws exasperatingly at the glass. As OneGreenPlanet points out, the recorded incident is very similar to one which was documented last year. In that instance, a Silverback gorilla charged at (and broke) the glass in a Nebraska zoo after a young girl banged on her chest.
Like humans, the animals don’t display their distress at all times. But that doesn’t mean life in captivity takes its toll. At the end of the day, we all need to ask ourselves this question: “No human wants to live life in a cage, so why do we inflict this punishment on other creatures?”
Watch the video below:
The conservation argument is an old one that is easily dispelled. To begin with, only a fraction of the animals kept in zoos (which exist primarily as human entertainment) are endangered and need to be protected. The others are “crowd pleasers,” such as lions, tigers, and bears. Additionally, true conservation demands that the animals are kept in habitats that mirror life in the wild. As any zoo-goer will attest to, this is rarely accomplished.
Last — but not least, we’ll let the profound wisdom of Guy Mountfort explain why zoos are a sham (at least, in terms of conservation). Over two decades ago, he said: “It has become customary, in recent years, for zoos and safari parks to respond to the growing public interest in conservation by claiming that by keeping endangered animals such as tiger in captivity they are ensuring the survival of the species…..such talk shows an astonishing ignorance of the freeborn tiger.”
He added, “Not having been taught from birth to maturity the skills of hunting, such tigers would either die of starvation, be killed by the first wild tiger they met, or be obliged to take very easy prey such as domestic animals and humans and would, therefore, be quickly shot. Moreover; although zoo-bred tigers are usually well cared for, they are deprived of everything they need and enjoy in the wild except plentiful food. They may be healthy and contented in captivity, but inbreeding and the lack of mental and physical stimulus result in progressive cerebral degeneration which would make it almost impossible for them to adapt to the hazards of life in the jungle.”
*Article originally appeared at True Activist.