The end of zoos?

posted at 8:31 am on March 29, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

Last month, Allahpundit touched on the rather gruesome story of a Copenhagen zoo which shot Maurice the giraffe in the head and fed him to some lions. In closing, he asked what may have turned out to be a somewhat prophetic question.

How much of an uproar would there have been if Marius had belonged to a more aggressive, less cuddly species? Probably no death threats if he was Marius the alligator, I assume.

Well, AP, it looks like we may have at least a partial answer to that query. Granted, we’re not talking about an alligator here (or any other cold blooded killer from under the water) but how about if they killed some lions?

A Danish zoo that made international headlines last month when it killed a healthy giraffe is once again in the news after it killed four lions to make way for a new male.

The lions were killed Monday, said Tobias Stenbaek Bro, a spokesman for the Copenhagen Zoo.

Two of those were young lions that were not old enough to survive by themselves and would have been killed by the new male lion if it had the chance, Bro told CNN. He said the zoo had tried to place them elsewhere, “but unfortunately there wasn’t any interest.”

The other two are the youngsters’ parents, described by the Copenhagen Zoo as a “very old” breeding pair.

There’s no word yet as to whether or not these were the actual lions who dined on Marius. This time the explanation doesn’t sound like it revolves entirely around genetics and a fear of inbreeding, but rather the mating and social habits of prides of lions. The new male coming in will, apparently, kill off any other male’s offspring before spreading his seed among the available females, along with getting grouchy with any other breeding age males. There are once again more than a few people upset and asking if that was really a good trade… an adult pair and two cubs for one new male?

The story has also reignited the same debate over whether or not zoos still have a place in civilized society and if their housing of animals is actually kind or cruel to them. Does the educational value of such captivity serve a purpose worth the perceived costs? Without pasting in long winded quotes from either, I’ll point you to a pair of contrasting opinions on the subject. The first is from Lesley Dickie, the Executive Director of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. It won’t come as any shock that she’s in full defense of the whole lot of culling going on. The second is from Liz Tyson, Director of The Captive Animals’ Protection Society. Again, you won’t be surprised to find that she basically wants all the zoos to be closed.

Personally, I haven’t been to a zoo in years and consider myself pretty much entirely done with them. (In contrast, I have no problem with aquariums, and using smaller fish – not big predators like killer whales – as entertainment. I’m not sure how much deep thought and longing for the open seas is going on in something that uses a ganglion knot for a brain.) Seeing the larger zoo animals in particular – especially the big predators who seem so much smarter, as well as the primates- is just too depressing for words. I can’t imagine they are happy there. And I also see no need to round up and pen in a bunch of animals we’re not going to eat. Further, the “educational” value of zoos seems to be pretty much nil, as i see it, living in an era where we can summon up far more detailed views of them on demand.

But by the same token, I’m not out there lobbying to shut down all the zoos, and I certainly don’t see it as the government’s place to do so. (This may seem surprising coming from somebody who has spent so much time volunteering at animal shelters and providing a home for rescue dogs and cats.) As much as I love our furry friends, I do not believe in the concept of “animal rights.” The entire concept of rights is a human fabrication – with apologies to you guys that want chimps declared people – and animals only have whatever “rights” we assign to them. (And they can change with our needs in any event.) If there is to be an end to zoos, it should come about because people lose interest in them and no longer support them financially.


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It’s a shame but most zoos are deteriorating for lack of interest in keeping them up. When I was a kid and we went to the zoo there were security guys around making sure nobody harassed the animals. The last time I went there there was no security and people were throwing things into the cages. And that was a while ago.

crankyoldlady on March 29, 2014 at 8:38 AM

I watched the documentary “Blackfish”, and I’m generally reluctant to totally believe in anything that is effectively propaganda (think “Inconvenient Truth”). However there are some animals that don’t belong in captivity.

They do have a purpose however, especially for animals that are unable to survive in the wild anymore because of some kind of infirmity. Plus, domesticated animals couldn’t survive in the wild.

Having said that, they are undoubtedly the only way humanity can get safely close to animals without impairing them or their environment.

itsspideyman on March 29, 2014 at 8:38 AM

Geeze, one group of wimpy metas whines about how we have to save the animals and another set of wimpy metas whines about animals being kept in prison. The only thing these groups of metas probably agrees on is how bad hunting these poor animals is.

Maybe be should put metas in zoos for their own safety.

cozmo on March 29, 2014 at 8:40 AM

They do have a purpose however, especially for animals that are unable to survive in the wild anymore because of some kind of infirmity.

itsspideyman on March 29, 2014 at 8:38 AM

Those animals have a purpose.

LUNCH for the predators. Thereby keeping the other cute and cuddlies safe for another day.

cozmo on March 29, 2014 at 8:43 AM

Maybe they should stop breeding these animals and then there won’t be as many. Maybe some can be put into the wild. They always say they couldn’t survive but don’t underestimate them. I’m sure there are some who can. There are always whiny types who think animals couldn’t possibly survive without us. Well they always have and better than we can.

crankyoldlady on March 29, 2014 at 8:44 AM

As someone who worked in zoos for 25 years, let me tell you this: if the people who ran Obamacare cared as much about people as zookeepers care about animals, hotair.com would have no O-care horror stories to report.

Also: please note that the people in favor of closing zoos almost never address the problem of what to do with all the animals there once the institutions shut down. Last I checked, there were over 700 gorillas in US zoos. Anybody seriously think you can return them all to the wild? And that’s just one species.

radjah shelduck on March 29, 2014 at 8:45 AM

If a zoo has a colony of gorillas they should ship them all together to a place where they are losing gorillas and let them take care of themselves. They are primates and they’ll form a society and take care of themselves.

crankyoldlady on March 29, 2014 at 8:49 AM

crankyoldlady on March 29, 2014 at 8:49 AM

Um yeah, the poachers who are decimating gorillas in the wild will be sure to leave them alone.

cozmo on March 29, 2014 at 8:50 AM

I have a two year old so we go to the zoo fairly often. I think our zoo has made great strides to build a good environment for most of the animals. It also has an elaborate animal hospital that allows visitors to watch many of the medical procedures. I have stopped visiting the primate house, though, because the gorillas in particular have grown very angry and their eyes make my heart hurt. I fully admit that I selfishly want to be able to see wild animals up close. I want my child to get to feed the giraffes.

myrenovations on March 29, 2014 at 8:53 AM

They do have a purpose however, especially for animals that are unable to survive in the wild anymore because of some kind of infirmity.

itsspideyman on March 29, 2014 at 8:38 AM

Those animals have a purpose.

LUNCH for the predators. Thereby keeping the other cute and cuddlies safe for another day.

cozmo on March 29, 2014 at 8:43 AM

You’re up throwing smoke right off the bench, cozmo. :D

itsspideyman on March 29, 2014 at 8:54 AM

Can’t see any rational reason to kill those lions except that once again the Zoo was too cheap and lazy to find a better alternative.

What a waste!

workingclass artist on March 29, 2014 at 9:01 AM

If there is to be an end to zoos, it should come about because people lose interest in them and no longer support them financially.

Same goes for quite a few species that’ll go extinct if there’s no value in keeping them alive.

forest on March 29, 2014 at 9:03 AM

It’s always been a creepy idea.
Ditch it and the horse racing, too.
PETA objects to a chicken mcnugget but when real animal abuse
is in evidence they are as silent as the depths of space.

vityas on March 29, 2014 at 9:03 AM

Congress will continue to exist.

So, no… zoos aren’t going away any time soon.

Myron Falwell on March 29, 2014 at 9:08 AM

You’re up throwing smoke right off the bench, cozmo. :D

itsspideyman on March 29, 2014 at 8:54 AM

It is a subject that interests me. If things keep going the way they are, zoos will be the only thing keeping hundreds of species from going extinct.

Dallas used to have a crappy zoo. It got better.

Some day, all zoos will be a good as this one.

cozmo on March 29, 2014 at 9:12 AM

Personally, I haven’t been to a zoo in years

Then you need to get out more.

Further, the “educational” value of zoos seems to be pretty much nil, as i see it, living in an era where we can summon up far more detailed views of them on demand.

If you can’t see the vast difference between examining a picture or video of a creature and actually seeing it up-close, in-person, then there really isn’t any help for you. If you want to see the difference, just sit a kid down in front of a computer telling them all about lions. Then take them to the zoo. Trust me, the kid will be able to tell the difference. (And, the kid will love you for it, too. Even if they’re 30yo.)

GWB on March 29, 2014 at 9:15 AM

PETA objects to a chicken mcnugget but when real animal abuse
is in evidence they are as silent as the depths of space.

vityas on March 29, 2014 at 9:03 AM

Huh? PETA is all over circuses and zoos. Not everywhere, all the time, no – they have to have some time set aside for killing all those shelter puppies.

GWB on March 29, 2014 at 9:16 AM

GWB on March 29, 2014 at 9:15 AM

No picture in the world can prepare you for when you see a rhinoceros pee.

cozmo on March 29, 2014 at 9:17 AM

No picture in the world can prepare you for when you see a rhinoceros pee.

cozmo on March 29, 2014 at 9:17 AM

ROFL. Or, to see polar bears … ummm… well… you know.

BTW, what ever happened to the safari park they used to have near Dallas-Fort Worth? That was a great place – unless it was siesta time, when you could drive through the whole park and not see a single critter.

GWB on March 29, 2014 at 9:21 AM

I went to the zoo a couple months ago. The biggest draw was the petting zoo (goats and stuff) and some of the smaller animals like the monkeys, otters, and meerkats. Smaller animals that seemed to have a nicer cage and were active. Lions, gorillas, etc. just sat there and the kids didn’t seem that interested.

Zoos should probably get rid of the larger, more expensive animals and stick to the smaller, more active and interesting to watch animals. Leave the lions and such to the wild animal parks where at least they have some area to act natural in.

The780 on March 29, 2014 at 9:24 AM

GWB on March 29, 2014 at 9:21 AM

Lion Country Safari, it didn’t last long.

cozmo on March 29, 2014 at 9:24 AM

This Danish zoo is a travesty. One zoo I would definitely like to see closed.

Hopefully, one of the staff might fall in the wrong habitat and find himself culled instead.

Now that would be a good story.

A nice tale of revenge.

Sherman1864 on March 29, 2014 at 9:27 AM

The end of zoos?

….they’re closing Washington DC?

KOOLAID2 on March 29, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Lion cubs in nature, even during good years, have a death rate of nearly 50% and that rate approaches 100% in drought years. The reason is that is that the male king lion gets first food choice and his female harem come next and children come last. Among the children, only the strongest survive. Nature isn’t very romantic.

Even less romantic is when the older male king grows too weak to defend his harem a new king takes over and the vanquished king slinks off to be eaten alive by hyenas while the new king busies himself with impregnating all the females and killing all the new born cubs (thus preserving his genes for the pride.) Although the male will kill all the new born cubs, he generally leaves the older cubs alone.)

The purpose of a zoo, however, is not to replicate nature but to entertain children and, beyond that, to preserve rare species such as lions which someday soon may become extinct. Aren’t there alternatives to death? How about segregating the cubs until they get a little older? Or, lions aren’t particularly common in the forests of Europe (LOL), how about shipping them to another zoo?

But Denmark is a socialist country with socialist morality. The penalty for being superfluous is death.

MaiDee on March 29, 2014 at 9:53 AM

Why has Hot Air become so freaking stupid? Seriously the quality of this site is plummeting…all of you are becoming left wing freaks.

If you don’t know the value of Zoos you aren’t having some sort of brilliant epiphany you are a cynic. A person who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

We go to the Zoo at least 4 times a year and the kids haven’t gotten tired of it yet. About watching on a computer screen, laughable.

Gosh how about Hot Air buying some writers with balls?

JimBob on March 29, 2014 at 9:54 AM

If a zoo has a colony of gorillas they should ship them all together to a place where they are losing gorillas and let them take care of themselves. They are primates and they’ll form a society and take care of themselves.

crankyoldlady on March 29, 2014 at 8:49 AM

Tried that in Detroit and it didn’t work.

trs on March 29, 2014 at 9:57 AM

San Diego used to have a good zoo. There’s a good one in Ohio but I can’t remember which city maybe Columbus? The one Jungle Jack is attached to. He is really committed to doing it right. Ohio also has a very good law against keeping wild animals. Some are still operating under the radar but at least they have a law.

crankyoldlady on March 29, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Tried that in Detroit and it didn’t work.

trs on March 29, 2014 at 9:57 AM

At least they’d have a better chance than living in Detroit.

crankyoldlady on March 29, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Lions may becoming rarer in the wild because of shrinking habitat, but in captivity they breed prodigiously. There is simply no lack of lions in zoo circles, so its understandable that the Danish zoo couldn’t find takers for their excess animals.

Thank heaven none of these pearl-clutchers ever visited a farm or a vet’s office- oh the horror!

Pless1foEngrish on March 29, 2014 at 10:10 AM

The zoo in Columbus, Ohio is amazing.

myrenovations on March 29, 2014 at 10:17 AM

I can see this as only the beginning of an extrapolated, Progressive future. The few Conservative males allowed to survive in the country will be forced into the New Progressive zoos for the viewing pleasure of the lemming populace, so that females will be allowed to breed only with the remaining, effeminate Prog ‘males’, leading us into a bright, Brave New World…

vnvet on March 29, 2014 at 10:20 AM

The zoo in Columbus, Ohio is amazing.

myrenovations on March 29, 2014 at 10:17 AM

So I heard. I wonder how they handle too many animals. I don’t suppose anyone ever thought of birth control. It’s called good management.

crankyoldlady on March 29, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Zoos cost money to run. Public dollars to run. End all zoos that must have public dollars to run.

Conservative4Ever on March 29, 2014 at 10:26 AM

GWB on March 29, 2014 at 9:21 AM

Lion Country Safari, it didn’t last long.

cozmo on March 29, 2014 at 9:24 AM

We went when it opened up 6 kids and two adults piled into Dad’s station wagon…The baboons climbed allover the car and sh*t all over it almost simultaneously…

Dad was mad but we were laughing our asses off.

workingclass artist on March 29, 2014 at 10:30 AM

JimBob on March 29, 2014 at 9:54 AM

Take it easy, Tamerlane. There’s plenty of room on the right side of the bench, no need to go throwing elbows this early in the day. Save up some of that rage, it’ll make you strong inside.

If we’re going to let the free-market decide the fate of zoos, can we do the same with all publicly-funded art? Let the ballets, operas, art galleries, and symphonies stand or fall on their merits as well!

Komsomoletz on March 29, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Lion Country Safari, it didn’t last long.

cozmo on March 29, 2014 at 9:24 AM

I couldn’t recall if it was still in existence when I left home… 30+ years ago.

I don’t suppose anyone ever thought of birth control.

crankyoldlady on March 29, 2014 at 10:21 AM

You think it’s hard to get a man to wear condom? You ain’t seen nothin’, yet!

Ohio also has a very good law against keeping wild animals.

crankyoldlady on March 29, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Most states have laws against it, now. Which means you can’t do hawking/falconry anymore at all. It’s ludicrous. You also better not be caught trying to rehabilitate an injured wild animal – best let the elite professionals take care of them! Otherwise you might end up with a hefty fine.

GWB on March 29, 2014 at 10:33 AM

The zoo in Columbus, Ohio is amazing.

myrenovations on March 29, 2014 at 10:17 AM

I just found an article in the local electric cooperative magazine about Jack Hanna. He said when he was hired to take charge of he Columbus Zoo and got off the plane he asked the cab driver to take him to the zoo and the driver said Columbus didn’t have a zoo. Now it has worldwide recognition. He’s also helping to improve something called the Wilds south of Cambridge. I had never heard of it but maybe it had a different name.

crankyoldlady on March 29, 2014 at 10:44 AM

If we’re going to let the free-market decide the fate of zoos, can we do the same with all publicly-funded art? Let the ballets, operas, art galleries, and symphonies stand or fall on their merits as well!

Komsomoletz on March 29, 2014 at 10:31 AM

By your use of the exclamation point, I interpolate that you find it reasonable that tax dollars are used to support activities that only a vanishingly small fraction of the population enjoy.

Why ballet and not disc golf? Why art galleries and not scifi fan conventions?

While you may believe that “cultural” activities (of the kind you prefer or have been told are superior) should be subsidized by the population at large, I am quite sure that you can not give a rational reason why it should be so, or what general benefit these activities bestow.

Tax money IS great for people who feel they should be able to make a living wage with their “art”, but as I recall, history’s greatest artists and composers were out there in the dirty grind of the commercial world, writing and playing and painting for money in competition with everyone else.

But then, fancy schmancy symphonies and the ballet and opera were actually POPULAR ENTERTAINMENT at one time, and the great unwashed forked over their pennies to enjoy it along with their cultural betters.

Before you take my money by force to keep your symphony tickets affordable, at least have the grace to admit you want me to pay for your entertainment.

Hey, can you get opera downloads on your Obamaphone?

Pless1foEngrish on March 29, 2014 at 10:55 AM

The zoo in my fair city is quite good considering this is not a major metropolis. AFAIK, no public funds are used to maintain the facility. The animals and grounds appear to be well-kept, and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable.

fortcoins on March 29, 2014 at 11:03 AM

It’s not as though they’re tossing fetuses on the fire to stay warm.

John the Libertarian on March 29, 2014 at 11:05 AM

We have one zoo in Montana, down in Billings. When we went there about 3 years ago it was a depressing experience for us, but most of the visitors, young mothers with preschool kids, seemed to not notice the poor state of the place. I hear it’s improved under new management, but I won’t go back.

We have a Buffalo Reserve out South of Polson that’s definitely worth a visit though. It’s measured in square miles and you drive around it on your own. We came upon some buffalo crossing a river and then dusting themselves. The make an interesting deep growling sort of noise that I hadn’t heard before.

A lot of our animal adventures in the fall end in something getting shot though. We are a hunting culture. Over on the east side are miles of rolling plains with deer, antelope, grouse, and lots of coyotes. Today there’s a gun show in Kalispell and a reminder that it’s time to pick up my hunting license again.

claudius on March 29, 2014 at 11:07 AM

The Columbus Zoo finally surpassed the San Diego zoo as the 1 rated zoo in the Country.

Patricksp on March 29, 2014 at 11:10 AM

Jazz’s opinion is dogshit. Here’s the kicker…

Further, the “educational” value of zoos seems to be pretty much nil, as i see it, living in an era where we can summon up far more detailed views of them on demand.

OK. So then I understand what a war vet went through, or a vice cop, because of the docu’s and reality shows I’ve watched.

To equate a tactile encounter with a televised program…

…and the to finish with the ol’ “but keep the guvment out though”, is just platitude crap.

It’s not going to kill HA to simply post links with a summary of arguments.

Not every thread needs the writer’s opinion. Why? Because most of writer opinions aren’t thought out. They’re content-quota fillers.

From MKH down, there’s a lot more verbose than profound.

budfox on March 29, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Why art galleries and not scifi fan conventions?

Pless1foEngrish on March 29, 2014 at 10:55 AM

Probably primarily because sci-fi conventions aren’t tax-supported. Or, maybe I misunderstood your question.

GWB on March 29, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Seeing the larger zoo animals in particular – especially the big predators who seem so much smarter, as well as the primates- is just too depressing for words. I can’t imagine they are happy there.

Why not? Do you think that bare Nature is a paradise for them? Nature is just cruel for most animals. Zoos offer them easy lives. What you seem to consider boredom to them is just escape from the constant need to pursue food and stay away from predators.

I think you are just trying to (oddly) empathize with the animals and you get the feeling that they aren’t free to pursue their hobbies in the wild or further their educations and try to write the Great African Novel, or the like. I’m not sure that most would prefer (if one can even use that word with wild animals) to have to scrape their livings and constantly be on guard in Nature rather than kept pampered and well-fed at zoos.

Westerners often let the concept of empathy run amok. We abuse it in trying to apply it to different cultures and we seriously warp the concept of empathy by applying it to wild animals. Yes, in cartoons the animals are really just furry humans … but in real life, they are just wild animals. You might feel bad seeing a great lion bored to death asleep all day in a zoo cage … while in the wild that same lion only sleeps 19 hours a day (when in a good position).

These wild animals are not people and brutal Nature is not some paradise they yearn to be in. They’re just animals.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 29, 2014 at 11:21 AM

Why has Hot Air become so freaking stupid? Seriously the quality of this site is plummeting…all of you are becoming left wing freaks.
If you don’t know the value of Zoos you aren’t having some sort of brilliant epiphany you are a cynic. A person who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
We go to the Zoo at least 4 times a year and the kids haven’t gotten tired of it yet. About watching on a computer screen, laughable.
Gosh how about Hot Air buying some writers with balls?
JimBob on March 29, 2014 at 9:54 AM

I couldn’t agree more.

Further, the “educational” value of zoos seems to be pretty much nil, as i see it, living in an era where we can summon up far more detailed views of them on demand.

-Jazz Shaw

Doesn’t even compare.

bluegill on March 29, 2014 at 11:26 AM

You know what happens if you let a number of these cultural fronts enter the free market?

They’re going to disappear and not because of some natural law.

There is no “free” market in America. It’s a giant RICO market.

So the vast majority of these animals will be sold to “private reserves”, but instead will be turned into food, clothing and “make my junk bigger” sex-aids.

And for those who don’t give a shite, understand that’s why you have no political power with the populous at large and your own party.

You cannot apply free market principles where the market doesn’t exist, and it hasn’t existed in the States for decades.

budfox on March 29, 2014 at 11:27 AM

Every animal must eat. Wild or not.

Bmore on March 29, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Doesn’t even compare.

bluegill on March 29, 2014 at 11:26 AM

The stupidity of this entire debate is amazing, isn’t it?

You got Jazz who can’t think past his nose and then the “don’t give a shite” crowd who hasn’t been to a zoo, or anywhere out of their comfort zone, in decades.

budfox on March 29, 2014 at 11:29 AM

San Diego used to have a good zoo. There’s a good one in Ohio but I can’t remember which city maybe Columbus? The one Jungle Jack is attached to. He is really committed to doing it right. Ohio also has a very good law against keeping wild animals. Some are still operating under the radar but at least they have a law.

crankyoldlady on March 29, 2014 at 10:00 AM

San Diego has the best zoo in the world; I was just there last week with my family…

JAZZ: get out to San Diego and spend a day at Balboa Park… plenty of FREE PARKING in the san Diego Zoo parking lot… take the double decker bus tour… it would really take you a few days to really see the whole zoo, but after that day, you’ll leave with the feeling that “this is THE model the rest of the world should strive to emulate”…

DISCLAIMER: my family holds annual passes for the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido…

Khun Joe on March 29, 2014 at 11:33 AM

From reading some of the views here, I believe a basic point has been missed. Killing helpless lion cubs is totally consistent with the liberal ‘final solution” for the weak, defenseless and the totally innocent. Now, if a vicious lion escaped from the zoo and roamed the streets of Copenhagen and slaughtered 30 people in a couple of satisfying burps the whole liberal world would be defending this mass murderer. PETA, ASPCA and others would be campaigning in favor of the “innocent” lion. The blame would be placed EVERYWHERE except, of course, on the marauding lion itself. Human “jailers”, “cruel” animal collectors, “beastly” zoos, global warming, air pollution, Bush, Ted Cruz, the Tea Party, while male chauvinism, and , above all, “insensitivity” to the social needs of lions to be liberated.

MaiDee on March 29, 2014 at 11:40 AM

GWB on March 29, 2014 at 10:33 AM

There’s still a Lion Country Safari in Florida and it’s ranked in the top ten according to this site. Two are in Texas and two are in Ohio.

The Top 10 Zoos in America

http://www.wrsol.com/usatravelguide/2009/02/top10zoosinamerica/

workingclass artist on March 29, 2014 at 11:42 AM

I’m about as big and sappy of an animal lover as someone can be.

That said, I didn’t care about Palm oil until I spent a month in San Diego in running distance from the zoo where I was able to connect with the SD orangutans Satu, Janey, Karen and Indah. The zoo had a display about palm oil which I basically ignored the first couple of visits. As I fell in love with individual orangs, I read the display again and suddenly it clicked and I starting caring that we’re destroying their homes in order to have a creamy texture in our store bought goods.

That wasn’t going to happen from watching a video where some British voice over artist or Morgan Freeman described to me what the orangutan was doing.

Zoos (at least the good ones) generally have huge investments in research and put lots of time and effort working together on species survival plans. The public sees the animals on display, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Unfortunately, because they require public attendance in order to keep running, their mission is sometimes at odds with what they need to do to fund that mission. They have to have the large animals that attract an audience (the big cats, polar bears, great apes, etc). They also attract more of an audience with babies than with older animals. This means animals become surperfluous. In the past, they sold them to circuses, private collections and canned safari hunts. Now as more of those things are made illegal, they kill them upfront (which is probably a less horrible fate than some of the other possibilities). I don’t like it and I try to avoid supporting zoos that participate in those behaviors but, shutting down all zoos would be throwing out the baby with the bath water.

On a side note, for the people that think it’s as simple as keeping the animals on birth control, animal physiology isn’t the same as human physiology so in many instances there isn’t a birth control to be used. Where there are, zoos do use them (for instance, Satu lives with his harem of 3 girls but the species survival plan only allows for him to breed with Indah so the others are on birth control). The zoo directors and keepers care a lot about animals (at most zoos) and do what they can to keep populations at manageable levels.

JadeNYU on March 29, 2014 at 11:49 AM

budfox on March 29, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Have to agree with you on the difference between tactile education and TeeVee.

The look on kid’s faces when the handler is teaching them about snakes or iguanas and they touch the animal is priceless.

It also helps kids understand scale etc.

It’s a good experience for kids and families.

We even went when I was in college a few times…to sketch animals and the viewers.

Properly managed and maintained Zoos are invaluable…imho.

workingclass artist on March 29, 2014 at 11:51 AM

As someone who worked in the field, it’s not as simple as “shut down all zoos”, or “zoos are great and don’t need improvement”. For one thing, It depends on the species, as Jazz alluded to. I’ve come to think that large, active predators like wolves, orcas, cheetahs, and highly intelligent large animals like elephants should only be kept in captivity in game ranch/sanctuary/large breeding facility situations. Fossil Rim is a great example of one of these, and there are many game ranches in florida and Texas that are keeping black rhinos, scimitar-horned oryxes and other endangered animals from going extinct.

I also think it’s humane to keep many of the smaller species of mammals, birds, fish, herps, inverts in traditional zoos and aquaria.

My local zoo was instrumental in keeping whooping cranes and Attwater’s prairie chickens from going extinct.

So there are pros and cons, but it would be insane to shut down all zoos.

As an aside, I’ve met Jack Hanna several times and appeared on his show to talk about prairie chickens, many years ago.

juliesa on March 29, 2014 at 11:53 AM

while in the wild that same lion only sleeps 19 hours a day (when in a good position).

I have a couple of webcams on the San Diego Zoo. The elephants are interesting. Sometimes they actually play in the water rolling over like I wouldn’t have thought elephants would do. The apes just sit a lot playing with little pieces of sticks and things in their fingers. I’m sure that is what they would do in the wild. Same with the polar bears. Once in awhile you can catch them swimming but usually all they do is sleep.

crankyoldlady on March 29, 2014 at 11:53 AM

On another side note, the people that are on PETAs case for worrying about chicken nuggets but not zoos might be interested to know 2 things:

1) PETA does have a problem with zoos

2) PETA focuses on captive meat animals over zoo animals because the treatment afforded to the millions of chickens and pigs slaughtered each year is horrific in comparison to the treatment of zoo animals (even at lower end zoos).

Based on the sheer numbers of animals involved and the levels of misery those animals are subjected to their focus should be on the McNuggets.

That said, they jumped the shark a long time ago and it’s unfortunate that they’re seen as the main voice in advocating for improved treatment of animals.

JadeNYU on March 29, 2014 at 11:53 AM

That said, they jumped the shark a long time ago and it’s unfortunate that they’re seen as the main voice in advocating for improved treatment of animals.

JadeNYU on March 29, 2014 at 11:53 AM

It is a shame, because captive animals do need advocates for humane treatment, but PETA is against any use of animals, even as pets.

juliesa on March 29, 2014 at 12:00 PM

I recall vividly one of the most educational experiences of my life happened at the zoo. Sometime during high school we were at the zoo and happened upon the giant tortoise exhibit. The barrier was a low, stone wall that you could sit on. No more than 5 feet away a couple of the monsters were getting it on, very slowly, very intensely… We laughed uncontrollably like Beavis and Butthead; it still makes me laugh. Everything was clear after that.

So I am pro zoo!

yubley on March 29, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Give the kiddies the full Serengeti experience and place all the animals in 1 large enclosure and let them (the animals, not the kids) live / fight it out like they do in the wild.

To keep the predators, like lions, fed so they don’t kill all the cuddly, doe eyed baby herbivores, throw in a few dogs and cats from the local pound that are going to be euthanized anyway.

Otherwise, close them all down. Kids can learn everything they want to about wild animals on the National Geographic channel.

Ruckus_Tom on March 29, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Ruckus_Tom on March 29, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Oh, I’ve seen quite a bit of that sort of thing as a bird keeper.It’s not fun when a raccoon tears one of your expensive birds apart. Snakes, hawks, foxes, all do a number on them. I’ve done quite a bit of live trapping for predator control. One thing I got real good at was how to release a skunk from a trap without getting sprayed.

The worst is when the neighborhood dogs get into a zoo and start after the hoofed stock or birds. Our city zoo had a curator living on site who would go after the dogs at night with a rifle. He was a good shot, but when the public got word of how the curator was shooting dogs to protect the zoo animals, of course the public got PO’ed.

juliesa on March 29, 2014 at 12:21 PM

workingclass artist on March 29, 2014 at 11:42 AM

Thanks. It’s great to see the FW Zoo on that list! I always loved the zoo as a kid (and as an adult). The zoo in Norfolk, VA is decent for its size. (We took family when they all came out for my son’s graduation.)

GWB on March 29, 2014 at 12:43 PM

Westerners often let the concept of empathy run amok.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 29, 2014 at 11:21 AM

THIS ^^^^^ is the takeaway from this discussion. And it applies to more than just zoos.

On a (somewhat) unrelated note – regarding PETA – I have a colleague of mine (a fellow leader in the Boy Scouts) who was once a member of the board of PETA. He is a trained biologist, with more time doing field observations of animals in the wild than anyone cares to think about. When PETA considered the subject of the exploding deer population in the US, he had the gall to suggest that maybe letting hunters take care of the problem was a more humane solution than letting the deer starve to death, or get mowed down by automobiles.

He was bounced off the board of PETA for that bit of heresy.

SubmarineDoc on March 29, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Congress will continue to exist.

So, no… zoos aren’t going away any time soon.

Myron Falwell on March 29, 2014 at 9:08 AM

LMFAO.

Is there any way that we can keep the animals THERE from reproducing?

SubmarineDoc on March 29, 2014 at 1:07 PM

All zoos are not created equal. The Memphis Zoo is among the best in the US. animals are well taken care of and fed. Their enclosures are spacious and most animals appear content. Many were rescued from sideshow zoos or private collections and the pandas have a nice safe habitat. Even the small Ross Park Zoo in Jazz’s hometown is a very well maintained facility. The Copenhagen zoo is a travesty. The Danes should be ashamed at the treatment of their animals.

simkeith on March 29, 2014 at 1:07 PM

As an aside, I’ve met Jack Hanna several times and appeared on his show to talk about prairie chickens, many years ago.

juliesa on March 29, 2014 at 11:53 AM

I saw something on tv about prairie chickens in Nebraska. I see why they called them prairie chickens. It was a guy named Patrick something who has a show called I think “Expeditions”. It’s on PBS. Very interesting about flora and fauna.

crankyoldlady on March 29, 2014 at 1:42 PM

Maybe they should stop breeding these animals and then there won’t be as many. Maybe some can be put into the wild. They always say they couldn’t survive but don’t underestimate them. I’m sure there are some who can. There are always whiny types who think animals couldn’t possibly survive without us. Well they always have and better than we can.

crankyoldlady on March 29, 2014 at 8:44 AM

Maybe we should get Murder Incorporated to diversify into zoo animals. They would think of it as practice.

slickwillie2001 on March 29, 2014 at 1:42 PM

The Copenhagen zoo is a travesty. The Danes should be ashamed at the treatment of their animals.

Socialists don’t care much about people. I don’t suppose they care about animals either. It’s all about the malaise among the populace in those scandinavian countries.

crankyoldlady on March 29, 2014 at 1:44 PM

Since we’re talking about animals and Jack Hanna. There was an incident near here which was the catalyst for Ohio’s exotic animal law. A man who was running an animal farm suddenly went nuts, opened all the gates and committed suicide. Dozens of wild, and dangerous animals were running around. Hanna was over in Pennsylvania after making a speech or something and when he heard about it he wanted to rescue them . He drove fast all night but didn’t get there in time. The cops shot all the animals. They had to. They didn’t have a choice.

crankyoldlady on March 29, 2014 at 1:51 PM

End of zoos ? Unlikely.

End of THIS zoo, apparently run by complete idiots ? I’m going to go with a big YES on that one.

deadrody on March 29, 2014 at 1:52 PM

Also, here’s a tip for them if they’d like to avoid being run out of business:

Try and keep the seamier side of zoo management more private. You don’t really have to have to announce to the press when you coldly put animals to death. I’m sure it happens a lot. Maybe try not telling anyone.

deadrody on March 29, 2014 at 1:53 PM

Two of those were young lions that were not old enough to survive by themselves and would have been killed by the new male lion if it had the chance…

Must be a really lame zoo if it can’t segregate its lions.

rickv404 on March 29, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Free the Animals – Lock up the People!

Another Drew on March 29, 2014 at 2:58 PM

The Memphis Zoo is among the best in the US. … Their enclosures are spacious and most animals appear content.

simkeith on March 29, 2014 at 1:07 PM

The polar bears, however, do lack privacy – for those more romantic moments……

GWB on March 29, 2014 at 3:00 PM

It’s a shame but most zoos are deteriorating for lack of interest in keeping them up. When I was a kid and we went to the zoo there were security guys around making sure nobody harassed the animals. The last time I went there there was no security and people were throwing things into the cages. And that was a while ago.

crankyoldlady on March 29, 2014 at 8:38 AM

Gloom and doom alert:

As our economic systems continue to erode, maintaining many things we take for granted will be more and more difficult. And it doesn’t matter how much money is actually available and thrown at problems.

A dollar 80-100 years ago was not only worth more, but was simply used more efficiently, more wisely, by more competent people. We won’t, at some point, have enough dollars to build nor maintain the things that were established long ago. What I’m talking about is far out of proportion to inflation, but there’s other things that are different as well.

I think of the grand old courthouse in our county seat that was built just over a century ago. No way we could build that now. The craftsmanship necessary is gone, the costs will be astronomical (just refurbishing it cost a pretty penny), the bureaucracy is greater, and lastly fewer people give a crap what their courthouse looks like as they’ve lost their civic pride.

The new courthouse next door will be an eyesore in 30 years, and may in all likelihood be torn down and replaced with a new drywall wonder built with even cheaper materials than this one.

Dr. ZhivBlago on March 29, 2014 at 3:39 PM

As our economic systems continue to erode, maintaining many things we take for granted will be more and more difficult. And it doesn’t matter how much money is actually available and thrown at problems.

Dr. ZhivBlago on March 29, 2014 at 3:39 PM

Most of the institutions of cultural enrichment continue to exist, not only from private foundations left to their upkeep, but from continued support by profitable corporations. Your planetarium, science centers, zoos, symphonies, history museums, art museums all rely on huge corporate grants to continue their operations and upkeep. As the progressives(regressive fascists) continue to unwind the economy, look for these institutions to suffer.

Murphy9 on March 29, 2014 at 4:10 PM

The entire concept of rights is a human fabrication

This seems to have escaped the notice of the “rights come from gawd” masses here at HA. Slow day.

MJBrutus on March 29, 2014 at 4:15 PM

I’m surprised the zoo didn’t ask Putin if he wanted the lions. He’s already got at least one tiger. I’d bet he jump at the chance to have some lions.

I think zoos serve an important educational experience. Seeing a large animal in person is drastically different than seeing an animal on a small screen. Being able to see, smell, and sometime touch one of these animals is amazing especially when so many live in a world divorced from nature. Not everyone is going to be able to travel to Africa, Asia, or any of these other exotic lands where these animals live. Zoos and aquariums allow millions to appreciate these animals.

Iblis on March 29, 2014 at 4:19 PM

Gloom and doom alert:

As our economic systems continue to erode, maintaining many things we take for granted will be more and more difficult. And it doesn’t matter how much money is actually available and thrown at problems.

We are on the downhill slide, and the crest was not that great. One thing for sure, there will be plenty of dollars in the future to try to repurchase what has been lost. Quadrillions of dollars, in fact.

bbhack on March 29, 2014 at 4:19 PM

Most of the institutions of cultural enrichment continue to exist, not only from private foundations left to their upkeep, but from continued support by profitable corporations. Your planetarium, science centers, zoos, symphonies, history museums, art museums all rely on huge corporate grants to continue their operations and upkeep. As the progressives(regressive fascists) continue to unwind the economy, look for these institutions to suffer.

Murphy9 on March 29, 2014 at 4:10 PM

Sure, but what about our roads, bridges, and as I pointed out, civic structures? I’m also beginning to wonder about our military capabilities.

The cost of doing every little thing is becoming astronomical and therefore impractical. We’re in overtime.

Dr. ZhivBlago on March 29, 2014 at 4:22 PM

Sure, but what about our roads, bridges, and as I pointed out, civic structures? I’m also beginning to wonder about our military capabilities.

The cost of doing every little thing is becoming astronomical and therefore impractical. We’re in overtime.

Dr. ZhivBlago on March 29, 2014 at 4:22 PM

I guess I was just highlighting how absurd the situation we find ourselves in. Our infrastructure continues to age, the funds to repair and replace it have long ago been spent on shrimp on treadmill studies and lesbian alcoholism studies. How much more will the pretty dressings of society(the cultural institutions) suffer.

We live in interesting times.

Murphy9 on March 29, 2014 at 4:31 PM

I guess I was just highlighting how absurd the situation we find ourselves in. Our infrastructure continues to age, the funds to repair and replace it have long ago been spent on shrimp on treadmill studies and lesbian alcoholism studies. How much more will the pretty dressings of society(the cultural institutions) suffer.

We live in interesting times.

Murphy9 on March 29, 2014 at 4:31 PM

I gotcha. All sad but true. But I’d go a step further and say that most of those funds have simply been stolen and laundered through a combination of bureaucracy, political PACs, and major banks and corporations that are “too big to fail”.

Dr. ZhivBlago on March 29, 2014 at 4:41 PM

The entire concept of rights is a human fabrication

This seems to have escaped the notice of the “rights come from gawd” masses here at HA. Slow day.

MJBrutus on March 29, 2014 at 4:15 PM

I definitely noticed it. Apparently Shaw is not a fan of the Declaration of Independence. As an apparent sophist yourself, you must be pleased.

weathermen on March 29, 2014 at 5:14 PM

We put humans is zoos (we euphemistically call them “reality shows”) why not animals? Most non-human animals are more interesting than the retards, freaks, and circus clowns who appear in the Amazing Race.

Nomennovum on March 29, 2014 at 5:16 PM

They’re just animals.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 29, 2014 at 11:21 AM

What are you, a carrot?

weathermen on March 29, 2014 at 5:20 PM

Pless1foEngrish on March 29, 2014 at 10:55 AM

You completely missed the point of my post. I really honestly believe that all art should succeed or fail based entirely on its ability to be marketable to people who have the option whether or not to support it. No subsidies or tax breaks for anyone. There was no sarcasm, and the exclaimation point was to emphasise the sentence- stand or fail on their own (with no public funding).

Komsomoletz on March 29, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Oh wait, I have done POP a disservice. His post is rife with pearls of wisdom.

I think you are just trying to (oddly) empathize with the animals and you get the feeling that they aren’t free to pursue their hobbies in the wild or further their educations and try to write the Great African Novel, or the like. I’m not sure that most would prefer (if one can even use that word with wild animals) to have to scrape their livings and constantly be on guard in Nature rather than kept pampered and well-fed at zoos.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 29, 2014 at 11:21 AM

yes, of course, those lucky zoo animals must be thanking the stars above to be locked in their cages, safe from the horrors of freedom. Brilliant sir, just brilliant.

Zoos offer them easy lives. What you seem to consider boredom to them is just escape from the constant need to pursue food and stay away from predators.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 29, 2014 at 11:21 AM

Now you’ve really got me convinced. I’m going straight to the nearest jail and demand admittance so I can get me some of that easy life. smh

weathermen on March 29, 2014 at 5:56 PM

What, I’m not banned yet? OK, let me get one more dig in before I check out the other threads.

Geeze, one group of wimpy metas whines about how we have to save the animals and another set of wimpy metas whines about animals being kept in prison.
cozmo on March 29, 2014 at 8:40 AM

I am afraid that you are confused. A lack of empathy (which in the extreme is known as sociopathy) and toughness (or not being a wimp as you would say) are not correlative. While your post has shown that you possess the former, the latter can not be proven over the internet.

weathermen on March 29, 2014 at 6:27 PM

weathermen on March 29, 2014 at 6:27 PM

Bless your heart, you just ain’t very bright.

cozmo on March 29, 2014 at 6:30 PM

Many of the same idiots who so vociferously oppose the supposed cruelty of zoos (and I’m sure there are indeed actual cases of cruelty at zoos, just as there in schools, hospitals, homes, etc.) are on their abortion and couldn’t care less about the ‘invasive, parasitic lump of pre-human cells’ they dumped in the medical waste bin to be burned in the oven to heat the hospital. These are also some of the same people who scream about docking the tail of a puppy while discussing how they leave their pet in a 6′ by 6′ by 6′ cage all day while they’re at work.

Idiots. Hypocrites. Evil.

xNavigator on March 29, 2014 at 6:44 PM

Correction to above:

‘just as there ARE in schools’ and
‘on their UMPTEENTH abortion’

Sheesh, what I wouldn’t give for an edit button!!! ;)

xNavigator on March 29, 2014 at 6:48 PM

weathermen on March 29, 2014 at 6:27 PM

Bless your heart, you just ain’t very bright.

cozmo on March 29, 2014 at 6:30 PM

I don’t know, but If I were you I think I would have gone a different route than a one sentence slur against my intelligence.

geeze, one group of wimpy metas whines about how we have to save the animals and another set of wimpy metas whines about animals being kept in prison.

cozmo on March 29, 2014 at 8:40 AM

weathermen on March 29, 2014 at 8:02 PM

weathermen on March 29, 2014 at 8:02 PM

And you whine about everything, apparently.

cozmo on March 29, 2014 at 8:53 PM

weathermen on March 29, 2014 at 8:02 PM

And you whine about everything, apparently.

cozmo on March 29, 2014 at 8:53 PM

well yeah, but I don’t think I would call it whinibg. I mean isn’t complaining pretty much what we do here? We complain about Obama,liberals and we even complain about whiners.

Cozmo, since I am the one that called out your post which I shouldn’t have done but hey, I kind of got carried away in this thread, I am going to let you have the last word. As far as I am concerned, no hard feelings from my end, and I am sure when I read your posts in the future I am probably going to say, “Now there’s a post I can agree with.” So have at it and see you in a future thread.

Wait a minute here. I just clicked on your name and got rickrolled or whatever the hell you call it. Damn you Cozmo, you’ve not heard the last of me aargh!

weathermen on March 29, 2014 at 9:49 PM

The San Diego Zoo is awesome, and quite educational. You should go sometime.

MikeknaJ on March 30, 2014 at 10:17 PM

I like zoos. I see them as an important educational tool in society. They know better than to mistreat animals. And when they kill them, let’s remember they are just animals.

bossmanham on March 31, 2014 at 10:42 AM