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Posted on Monday, March 1st, 2010

Dave!I have mixed feelings about animals being held in captivity for entertainment value.

For the most part, I'm against it. I see animals chained up at the circus or animals trapped behind glass at the zoo, and can't imagine that this is an acceptable way to treat them. These animals aren't living, they're existing, and that's a pretty big difference. Even when the people keeping the animals insist that they're receiving the best of care and are safer than they would be in the wild... or if they're of the mind that the animals don't know any better and only understand about getting fed... well, it's still a far cry from living in the wild.

But... "the wild" isn't what it used to be.

Jungles are being deforested. Glaciers are melting. Rivers, lakes, and oceans are polluted. Natural habitats are being dozed over to make room for condominiums. Pretty soon, there won't be much "wild" for animals to live in.

So... what to do?

The only way to insure the survival of a growing number of species is to raise them in captivity. And not all zoos are created equal. A growing number of zoos are going above and beyond to recreate the natural habitats of the animals living in captivity. The San Diego Zoo has been working on this for years, and others are following suite.

Then there's Disney's Animal Kingdom, where they've really put in the effort in recreating an animal's environment. And today they announced the birth of a critically endangered gorilla who might not have even had a chance in the hostile world we live in...

Disney Gorilla
Now THAT'S an adorable baby!

But then there's the other side of the coin. Dangerous animals kept in captivity where it's easy to believe that we're the one's in control. We're the ones making the decisions. We're the ones making the rules.

And it makes for good family entertainment...

Shamu Jumping

Until we receive a very real reminder that the animals are, in fact, still animals.

The tragedy at Sea World comes as a shock... but really shouldn't. The shocking things is that things like this don't happen more often.

And again, it's hard for me to sort out my feelings here. On one hand, animals as entertainment is not something I'm ever going to be comfortable with. On the other hand, the money Sea World gets from the entertainment goes towards their substantial efforts in education, conservation, rescue, and preservation.

So... what to do?

I guess there's nothing we really can do except BELIEVE it will all work out somehow...

Dave and Hilly BELIEVE!

I wonder what this all means for those of us who have been indoctrinated into the Cult of Shamu?

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Categories: News - Politics 2010Click To It: Permalink


  1. Breigh says:

    I feel pretty much the same way. I love going to the zoo and seeing animals I would never see otherwise, but I can’t help but feel bad for them. It’s conflicting and things like the killer whale incident really do remind us that no matter how long they are captive, they are still wild. It was such a shame but definitely a risk she knew she was taking.

  2. Lisa says:

    I think there’s a difference between giving them a habitat in which they can thrive to protect the species or the animal, and riding on their face. I get that Sea World has to pay for their facility somehow, and that they do a lot of good, but it still makes me sad for the animal.

  3. Nancycle says:

    That’s a tough one. I can identify with the repulsion of the concept, yet by laying down our dollars and common “sense” we vote with our actions. It’s an evil trap!

  4. jenny says:

    I wonder if this warrants a new phrase… whale extreme!

  5. Christopher Stogdill says:

    My wife and I were among the first to see the baby gorilla last week at WDW. I think she gave birth 2 or 3 days prior, but kept the baby close and out of sight. I may have a few pics….

  6. Finn says:

    I, too, am conflicted. Education is so important, and exposure furthers that, but keeping those big animals in such small places worries me. There is something so sad in watching them swim in circles with nowhere to go.

    The zoos that give animals a large area to live in are much, much better. And the conservation angle is crucial. But I wonder if they actually get bored because they don’t have to search for food, an activity that takes up much of most animal’s lives.

    On the other hand: BABY GORILLA!

  7. A. Lewis says:

    It is a very confusing and multifaceted issue. I love being close to the animals, learning about them, enjoying them…..but would never want to do it at their expense.

  8. Avitable says:

    That’s a damn cute baby gorilla.

  9. I’ve always had an odd relationship with zoos and the like. On the one hand I don’t like seeing animals in captivity like that. My inner lifelong animal lover speaking I suppose. But, taking children to an animal park and seeing their face as they see animals in person for the first time is a wonderful experience.

    I guess you might say I’m somewhat conflicted by it. Oh well. I think too, that it all depends on the quality of the zoo and how well they can mimic the natural environment. Some do a far better job than others.

  10. I totally agree with Lisa. And I think I already mentioned this before, but I’d love to hear what you think of the documentary The Cove, Dave. It’s pretty awesome.

  11. Evangeline says:

    This goes along with the topic. Heartbreaking video.

  12. It’s a mixed bag for me, too. I am mostly ok with zoos and parks like Sea World, so long as their backend purpose is to breed and care for the animals properly. Although sometimes us humans forget that at the end of the day, a killer whale is still a killer whale. And in the case of Roy in Las Vegas, a tiger is still a tiger. And for Timothy Treadmill, a bear is still a bear.

  13. muskrat says:

    Every time you buy a whale tail necklace, a baby gorilla turns gay. Just letting you know.

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