Recently a 28 stone silverback gorilla escaped its enclosure at London Zoo and gained access to a staff area where it proceeded to drink 8 litres of Blackcurrant cordial.
The BBC managed to seize the opportunity to use the story to mock the 1st minister of Scotland on national TV.
Accidental I’m sure
Overall it was a pretty minor incident but as, usual the internet decided to throw a tantrum over the event with many keyboard warriors calling for an end to the zoo trade. It’s not the first time this year gorillas have made international news by being on the news as On May 28, 2016, a three-year-old boy climbed into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden and was grabbed and dragged by Harambe, a 17-year-old Western lowland gorilla. Fearing for the boy’s life, a zoo worker shot and killed the gorilla.
The decision to kill the animal was widely criticised as from watching the footage it appeared that the gorilla was protecting the boy. However, many primatologists described the gorilla’s posture as being extremely aggressive and due to tranquilizer darts taking 15 mins to take effect and the incredible weight and strength of the animal the only option was to, unfortunately, shoot Harambe with a high calibre rifle.
Modern zoos try to use as few security bars as possible as they want to create a seamless barrier between the animals and the spectators, the problem is that it allows unsupervised children to climb into the exhibits and endanger the life of themselves and the animals in the enclosure.
Another recent zoo controversy happened when a Danish zoo killed a healthy young giraffe which they didn’t have space for and dissected it in front of school children and then fed it to the lions.
This prompted an outcry from the international community demonising the zoo for this perceived morbid cruelty.
What the fuck do you think the zoo usually feeds the lions – grapes?
Predatory animals eat meat – that means the zoo pays for animals to be killed to feed all the carnivores and surely it’s more ethical to kill a giraffe that was sadly going to be put down anyway than it is to kill 20 pigs and feed them to the lions?
It seems fashionable to hate on zoos these days with many popular online media outlets such as Vice calling for their closure and this is understandable. I don’t think anyone would disagree that the best place for an animal to be is living wild in its natural habitat and locking animals in cages so people can stare at them is a bit abhorrent.
But our natural wilderness across the globe is shrinking fast and a growing list of species are looking down the barrel of global extinction. The fact that there are more tigers living in people’s back gardens in Texas than there are in the wild is a stark illustration of this.
A different realm of stupidity.
There are numerous examples of zoo’s saving animals from extinction and as we continue to deforest and destroy the natural world, they may be our only hope to preserve the Earth’s fauna and most modern zoos try to give the animals as much space as possible and provide enrichment activities to replicate the animals natural habitat.
It is worth noting that some animals respond well to captivity and some don’t, this statement is more relevant to aquariums than zoos and it is bananas to keep a 30 foot 6-tonne super predator that roams across oceans in a pool. After the documentary Black Fish SeaWorld’s profits have started to tank, hopefully, this is the end of this circus-style approach to presenting marine life to the public.
In conclusion, there are lots of ethical problems with keeping animals in zoos but I feel these are overshadowed by the critical condition of nature on our planet.
To lighten this depressing end note here is a clip of the President-elect getting attacked by a bald eagle (the national animal of the USA I might add).