Wednesday, 26 March 2014

THE ZOO OUTSIDER'S response to

Inside the Mind of an "Anti-Zoo Fundamentalist"

in turn a response to

What anti-zoo people taught me’

Which was actually a response to

Living A Lie: What The Zoo Taught Me

As ever, these are just my two pennies worth, or 200 as the case may be. I read this response and at first though I would not say anything at all, but then as time passed I felt it an injustice to those in my industry and the hard work they do to NOT stand up and speak out. You might want to grab a pot of tea or something, we might be here a while... Anyway, here goes...

1. All zoos are created equal.

Does the author think for one moment that human philosophy has any bearing to an animal, it's easily as irrelevant to them as emotion is.

Firstly lets look at the basic definition of philosophy.

“Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument.”

Secondly, lets then look at how in the preceding post we see continual neglect to acknowledge the many undeniably positive and constructive aspects of zoos, a systematic and rational approach indeed.

An opinion coming from such an unbalanced view can only be by extension, emotionally biased.

I'd be interested to see where the author and their cohort draw the line on what “captivity” actually is, In some zoos I've seen huge (and I mean huge) stimulating exhibits which border on the size of some of the smaller African game reserves I've visited and in some parts of Africa these reserves are about a “wild” as it gets. By that reasoning, if we build bigger enclosures in zoos add a few carnivores into the mix and stop feeding everything, they will feel more comfortable with the idea? Indeed if you were to feed a lot of animals in the wild, their natural ranges would significantly reduce as they rely upon that feeding, which is an entirely natural and voluntary response. There's a blackbird in my garden who barely leaves as he has everything he needs there, if I were to net over my garden, some might see him in captivity, but what would he see? Nothing, in fact his life would change very little if at all.

All zoos are Equal: Compare this to some east Asian zoos, I dare you to try.

2. Sanctuary = Amazeballs! Zoos = Internment Camp

Captivity is unacceptable according to the previous point, so sanctuaries should be a contradiction in themselves, if the author finds them acceptable because they rescue an individual from peril, why can they not find rescuing entire species from peril equally acceptable in a zoo setting? The individual had poor care where it was, it was removed for its own sake and cared for with the hopes of rectifying the problems. The exact same logic can be applied to a species as a whole, granted they are not being neglected or abused, but their supporting habitats are, and for this reason sustainable populations are necessary in the hopes that those issues can be resolved. In that respect sanctuaries and zoos are doing the same things, just on different levels.

3. What I feel is what the animal feels.

Stereotyping can often be open to interpretation as much as an animals facial expression can, some animals pace when they are anticipating food, in the same fashion that a dog jumps up excitedly when it is about to be fed, or a cat meows incessantly when anticipating feeding. It doesn't always equate to repetitive behaviours = ZOOCHOSIS. It would be foolish to try and suggest that stereotypes don't exist, but I can assure you that in the zoo industry they are considered just as concerning as they would be by any onlooker and can often be easily rectified by changes in schedule, enrichment or a multitude of other methods that good zoos work very hard to apply on a daily basis, this is done not to impress anyone, not to fight any corners, not to attract any guests or to make any money, it is purely for the animals sake and can often lead to massive discoveries and improvements in captive welfare.

Real sterotypical behaviour in really appalling conditions, there's little comparison.

Just look at the level of scientific observation here, absoluteley no emotionally guided anthropomorphic judgements going on at all, not even one. Actually how does a fish look when it's sad? Do they all smile in the wild? do their eyes sparkle with delight? Answers on a postcard.

4. Changing a picture to black and white, cropping a picture so only a single animal is shown, and taking a picture during the winter are all fair and accurate portrayals of zoos.*Bonus if you can somehow have Sarah McLachlan music in the background*

The difference here is that a negative anti - photo insinuates something bad where there may not be anything via psychological manipulation of the viewer, where the positive one simply shows animals behaving nicely, unless you're trying to suggest the animals are being forced to behave normally, or maybe zoos are photoshopping the stimulation in there somehow.

5. Zookeepers are nothing more than glorified prison guards.

Simple propaganda and reverse psychology.
A clever attempt to try and get good keepers to sympathise with your views at the same time justifying them. Not much else to say there except the author would be happy to see all these good hard working professionals out of a job and away from the life they live and breathe in a heartbeat. Not aimed at anyone in particular no, just all of you. Forever.

6. Zoos are irrelevant because you can learn about animals in books and from the internet

The author has typically chosen topics which are impossible to witness in person. Seeing, hearing and witnessing are fundamental aspects of learning, stimuli taken in from live animals is the very core of what attracts us all to them. Space and dinosaurs are not in need of active conservation and a sense of collective responsibility in all who visit. Do all children interested in space and dinosaurs become astrophysicists and palaeontologists? If they could see dinosaurs or visit space, would it be right to deny them that experience? How might such an experience affect their respect for these topics? Seeing a Tyrannosaurus rex in a book = seeing a Tyrannosaurus rex in the flesh, I know which one might instil more respect.

Lack of evidence does NOT constitute a conclusion, it insinuates that further research needs to be done to come to a conclusion. A jehovah's witness can give out leaflets on a street corner, and have no evidence that any of those leaflets have been effective, it does not mean, however, that he has not had an effect on those people.

Why go to the length of building these when you could have just handed them a book?

7. It's okay to own a pet and be a hypocrite

Many domestic animals are still partly inappropriate as pets, a dog for example, still needs to be walked, still loves to run and roll in mud, dig, interact with other dogs and behave as if it were a wild animal and to some extent this behaviour is preferable to being in the artificial environment of the modern home. Domestication in the sense the author implies would mean that domestics should be completely happy with their lot within the home, but still, after thousands of years of line breeding, a majority of dogs still prefer to behave this way, not unlike a wild animal. The behavioural problems the author mentions could well be rooted in such a situation. On a philosophical level does domestication not represent a type of mental supression rather than a physical one?

The new guinea singing dog, like the dingo, once domesticated, now feral, returned quickly to its wild roots, indicating that domestication may not be quite as stable and long term as we think.

8. Animals in zoos would be better off if they were freed into the wild
9. Habitat destruction has halted AND fixed itself AND poachers no longer exist

To think that all species can be blanket covered by the “they wont survive in the wild” line is na├»ve, some species do very well as re-release species and on the flip-side some do terribly, but this does not mean they always will, release techniques have come a long way and will continue to do so, something that cannot be released now, may be releasable in future with more research. The problem here is that because anti-zoo people wish to see the end of zoos, they don not consider the positive future of zoos beyond the current moment and so wont see the future context. The author also fails to acknowledge the many species which have become extinct in the wild and have been returned successfully or at present remain extinct in the wild.

Mr. Oryx, zoos don't work!, I guess that kinda makes you extinct. Sorry about that one.

10. To help the animals we must boycott zoos!
To compare zoos to circuses is unfair (if not rather predictable) when did anyone last hear of a circus showing interest in the conservation status of wild animals? When have circuses contributed thousands of pounds to conservation projects or better still founded them?? Can't say I've heard of that happening. The evolution of zoos over the last 50+ years has come on leaps and bounds animals which used to not survive in captivity can now be kept very well and so much has been learned about these animals (if not out of a wild context) from a veterinary perspective especially, which can be directly applied to in-situ conservation efforts.

I feel the authors last points highlight how skewed and biased the stance is, they present it cleverly to create the illusion of a rational equal approach to the subject, but in reality little has been considered outside of the authors own view and agenda and it shows. They have clearly taken a lot of time thinking about the downfall of zoos, which considering the contributions zoos make (which are huge compared to any of the tiny contributions we as individuals could hope to give) is quite sad, I feel such passion and effort could be better spent on fighting the real menaces to the animal world, the big corporations, underground poaching and trophy hunting to name a few. The zoo industry and the people within freely consider and evaluate the concerns of many people on a daily basis, looking at all available and reasonable options, that's how constant improvement has been made over the past decades and will continue to be made in the decades to come as the world moves further into an industrialised and rather bleak future for some species.

Maybe instead of going out to the zoo, they should stay in and read a book about animals or possibly try a theme park, enjoying a day of non-educational, unconnected fun and contribute absolutely nothing to any conservation effort anywhere and fill themselves up with fatty junk foods saturated with palm oil, a sure fire way to ensure a healthy respect for nature in our future generations.

Real shameful actual abuse, going on every day all over the world.

There are people out there right now doing hideous things to the species we ALL know and love, anti zoo people need to look at what we have in common rather than sitting back taking easy pot-shots at the zoos when in reality we all want the same things, Imagine if all the zoo antis put the same amount of time and effort into anti poaching, deforestation and conservation projects, we might all be getting where we want to be a lot quicker.
Just my 2 pennies,
Good day.