Featured Image Credit: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
By Lindsay Edgar
In a time where fake news seems to be at the forefront of everything these days, it’s difficult to determine what’s true and what’s false. In the case of animal conservation, emotion plays a huge part in the controversy of zoos and aquariums.
Whichever side of the conversation you support, the ability to hear both sides is highly important.
Staunch animal activists believe that zoos cannot possibly replicate natural habitats. But, if you’ve ever walked through a zoo, the exhibits are transformed into exotic places. From the temperature to the precipitation level, enclosures are made to simulate the conditions of the ecosystems. The bonus is that there is no external threat to zoo habitats. No deforestation, no pollution, no human trash! Through the research that has been gained over the years studying these species, zoos promote a great quality of life for them.
Within the zoo enclosures, the animals have spaces where they can be free from human interaction if they so choose. Zoo experts monitor their behavior and look for signs of frustration or depression. Because animals have high levels of intelligence, they can display their emotions quite easily. In the wild, they experience the same emotions; we just can’t see them.
Conservation is also a huge topic of discussion. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums reports that its 230 accredited facilities contribute $160 million to conservation efforts each year. This outreach supports over 2,500 conservation projects in 100 countries. Because of this funding, scientists are able to study wild populations and can see what needs to be done for their survival.
The two-sided discussion about captive animals in zoos is one fueled by compassion. People on both sides have the animals’ best interests in mind: the common goal is to keep them alive and healthy.