As you are probably well aware, as it has been all over social media, a seventeen-year old male gorilla, Harambe, was fatally shot in a rescue attempt of a four-year old boy on Saturday 28th of May. The four- year old boy managed to climb through the barrier to the gorillas enclosure and fall twelve feet into the moat. Whilst Harambe ran over to the boy, he was not attacking him, merely standing over him and occasionally pushing him around. The response team decided it was a life-threatening situation and shot Harambe to save the boys life.
This is so frustrating to hear that another animal has been killed in captivity for reasons that wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t in captivity. I understand that this was an accident, it wasn’t the fault of the gorilla or the mother. The mother had no way to predict this was going to happen, her son simply wandered off too fast and before she knew it he had pulled himself through the barrier and was already falling. She is NOT a worthless mother, like many people are saying, and this certainly wasn’t her fault.
The use of tranquilizers in this situation was deemed too risky as they were likely to agitate Harambe and, with one swing of his arm, he could’ve killed the young boy.
I wish I could say it is the zoo’s fault for having inadequate barriers around the enclosure but I wish the enclosure could come down all together. I don’t believe animals should be imprisoned for human entertainment. There has been many cases where animals become distraught, underweight and sick from being kept in captivity. Videos show tigers clawing at the walls of their enclosures and gorillas throwing themselves at the glass trying to escape. A recent study of zoo’s in the UK showed that around 80% of the elephants had issues with their legs from not being able to walk around enough and from standing of concrete floors, and lions spent 48% of their time pacing their enclosures which is a listed sign of behavioural issues. African elephants in the wild can live up to three times longer than elephants in a zoo. Even Asian elephants working in timber camps live longer than those born in zoo’s.
Most zoo’s that claim to be for conservation purposes and eventual release into the wild are failing at those duties. If the aim was to release these animals into the wild to bring population numbers back up then they shouldn’t be raised in zoo’s. They grow up with no natural, survival or hunting instincts which means they can never survive in the wild on their own.
There are plenty of sanctuaries dedicated to protecting endangered species without imprisoning them. Allowing them to stay wild but minimising the risks of other predators and helping with food supply when needed. We are a greedy society who takes pleasure from other animals suffering whether it be eating them, wearing their fur, testing our beauty products on them and making them perform for our entertainment. I don’t believe that because we are the more intelligent species we should exploit them for our personal use.
The saddest part is, is that the main reasons these beautiful animals are held in zoo’s is because we endangered them in the first place. Whether it be poaching or destroying their habitats, we have slowly dwindled their species to endangerment. First we kill them in the wild then we kill them in captivity. These animals deserve freedom and life as much as we do.
But what are we really learning from zoo’s? Many people say they are educational and it gives better opportunity for children to learn more about the animals. Surveys show that the average person spends thirty seconds to one minute at each enclosure which is not enough time to read any of the information boards provided. So they give little educational purpose. The main thing they teach us is that we’re the superior species and it’s okay to continually abuse these animals and their rights.
The other reason is to protect endangered species. Zoo’s are not the only place to help endangered species. Sanctuaries provide, by far, a better service to the animals and to their species because we are not pulling them away from the wild. Animals in open-space sanctuaries are able to thrive without ever “leaving home.” They’re able to live out their lives the way nature intended.
Otherwise people go to zoo’s for fun. To get enjoyment at someone else’s expense. We are truly bullies and dictators, playing god with the lives of living creatures. Where will we draw the line? We use jail as a PUNISHMENT for ourselves so how can we not see that zoo’s are the same for these animals? Just because you add a tree and few rope swings to a concrete cell doesn’t make it enjoyable. We’re putting them in a jail and calling it a home.
What happened to Harambe was a tragic accident that should never have happened. Just like the two lions fatally killed a week early when a man broke into their enclosure in a suicide attempt. Hopefully we begin to understand that zoo’s are not adequate for anything living creature. Those who disagree I dare you to lock yourself in a room with an Xbox and a single game. It will appear like “the life” to people on the outside thinking “he gets to play Xbox all day, every day”. But we all know it won’t entertain you forever. Or people will be saying ” you need to get out, you’re so cooped up.”
Funny how cooped up doesn’t apply to animals, does it?
I should probably end this with something smart and catchy like xoxo Gossip Girl or Be Kind To One Another but falling short of a great idea,