Animals in Zoos are Always in Lockdown
With businesses shuttered around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic, zoos and aquariums are emptier than they’ve ever been, with some staff claiming animals are now lonely or bored. But the problem for animals in zoos is captivity itself, not missing throngs of humans due to social distancing. Animals held as captives in zoos are always in lockdown.
It’s well established that zoos cause animals—particularly larger species like elephants —chronic stress, illnesses, and shortened lifespans. Suggestions that these animals may be unhappy are frequently met with the excuse that there’s no way of knowing for sure what animals think. Yet zoos and people who love them are quick to deploy a double standard, for example claiming that zoo animals are “missing their human friends.” Not only is this unprovable, but it suggests that exploited animals with no choice in the matter can be “friends” with humans. But what kind of friendship is based on nothing more than a fleeting glance between bars or a few strokes on the belly?
Regardless of the number of zoo attendees, animals can struggle with boredom due to spending their entire lifetimes in the same severely-constricted exhibit. In addition to intense boredom, animals also suffer from other psychological conditions and show their stress through repetitive stereotypic behaviors, which is called ‘zoochosis’.
Many people are experiencing the isolation and mundanity that comes from being forced to spend hour after hour cooped up inside, prevented from going to restaurants or beaches or seeing friends or family. While these measures may be necessary in order to save human lives, there is no good reason to force animals to live their entire lives in cramped exhibits for the entertainment of humans who, for the most part, forget their existence the moment they walk away..
Lockdowns will soon lift for humans, but they never will for animals in zoos unless we unite to end captivity once and for all.
Please don’t support the unjust confinement of animals: pledge to never visit zoos.
Discover how zoo captivity harms elephants on our list of the 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants in North America for 2019.