Cages are for batting, not animals.

I really struggle with the fact that zoos and aquariums can be (usually are) negative places for animals.

Many zoos claim that they are positive for animals, as without them some species would be hunted or killed in the wild, thus leading to extinction. They also attempt to breed among the captive animals and say this will help aid in growing population of the species.

While I do NOT, in any capacity, think that the zoologists and animal caretakers intend to do anything but keeping the animals safe, fed, and cared for, zoos pose a number of issues for anyone concerned about animals and the claims made above.

The most obvious problem is the the cage. Animals that roam free in their native habitat with infinite miles to roam or fly are now given a limited, comparatively tiny space to live. A ┬álion in the wild runs through grasses, hunts for food, travels with it’s family and on average walks about five miles a day. A lion in a zoo has a small, simulated habitat with a few other lions and some rocks to climb on.

It’s like putting a butterfly in a jar with a twig, some leaves and a few holes poked in the top and expecting it to not only live, but thrive.

And in terms of breeding, just as with people, if you breed animals from a small selection of the species, it nearly becomes inbreeding. Just as a small group of related people COULD breed and thus, make more people, we can all agree that they SHOULDN’T. And when animals are bred, the babies usually stay in the zoo to be used as money making attraction.

Just like circuses, zoos use animals as entertainment. They also indirectly promotes the disconnect between the food people eat, and the cute, cuddly animals in a zoo. Meat is animal flesh. That statement is a fact, and stands alone without any animal-rights intent. It’s strange to see parents taking photos of their kids petting and feeding an animal, wearing clothes with animals on them, carrying animal stuffed animals, and then go to the cafeteria to eat hot dogs and hamburgers.

Here is my personal dilemma:

I love animals! I love petting them, learning about them and watching them. When I have gone to zoos and aquariums in the past, I have loved every second of it. My heart fills with joy and I usually walk around with my mouth agape when I’m not saying “Wow!”.

These places always reinstate why I don’t want to EAT animals – they are too beautiful in so many ways. Seeing them reinforces my choice for a compassionate lifestyle. After seeing them, I always feel inspired to donate to a sanctuary, read more about the animals or fish, or just cook a really great meal.

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to catch a few Episodes of LIFE, a new Discovery Channel series narrated by Oprah. I was stunned, amazed and in disbelief and not only the incredible shots of animals I’ve never seen or heard of, but to learn about their various behaviors. It is no exaggeration to say it is INCREDIBLE, and I urge you to check your local listings to tune in.

This got me thinking about all the great animal-friendly alternatives to zoos. Here are just a few:

Watch a movie/documentary: The aforementioned LIFE series is easily one of the best, if not THE best example. Movies show animals in their natural state, and can teach a lot more about how an animal actually lives than just waving to him from the other side of a barred cage. Not only do you get incredible visuals, but the commentary is full of information.

Visit an animal sanctuary: These are much different than zoos, as the intent behind them is actually about preserving life for animals, not making money on entertainment disguised as concern. Sanctuaries are often non-profits, meaning the money you spend to visit one is going right back to the animals you get to visit.

Live compassionately: When you don’t eat animals and refrain from buying animal products and contributing to things like circuses, you save almost 100 animals a year. And by “saving them”, you are are keeping demand for them low, and ideally they won’t even be bred in the first place.

This video is a kid-friendly animation of zoo animals explaining why they’d rather live elsewhere:

If you are interested in learning more about the harmful impacts of zoos, THIS WEBSITE is full of information.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the LIFE: Discovery Channel series, and watch selected videos free online!