Zoos! Most people love to go to the zoo and see all the amazing animals there. A little kid can have their first experience of seeing their favorite animal, or a person can see rare animal and want to donate to a charity or fundraiser to protect it. Could there be a downside to a zoo? And, what’s an animal sanctuary and how does it help animals? Why do sanctuaries specialize in one or two animals? What is the difference between a zoo and a sanctuary, and which one is better? What are their similarities? If you are like me, you wonder when you go to the zoo, “How do they treat their animals?” Or you wonder, “Does a sanctuary treat animals differently than a zoo?”
There are both downsides and benefits about a zoo, so lets start with the benefits. One benefit of a zoo is that someone could go to the zoo and see animal that they wouldn’t normally be able to see. They could see that animal and want to help it. That person could donate to a charity, or start a fundraiser. Another good thing about a zoo is first experiences. A little kid could come to the zoo and see a lion or zebra for the first time. If you were the little kid, it might be something that you would remember forever. It could make your day, week, or even month and may even make that kid want to help protect those animals.
Although there are some good things about zoos, there are also many problems. The animals in a zoo do not have enough space in their enclosure. I am guessing that you have gone to the zoo once, and seen a tiger or bear just walking around in circles growling or crying. This is probably because they are not in their natural habitat. They can not hunt or run around, and they are probably bored. According to Freedom for animals, lions and tigers can have up 18,000 times less space in the zoo than they would in the wild. This means that it would take 18,000 lion or tiger enclosures to match the amount of space the lions would have in the wild. Polar bears have 1,000,000 times less space than they would in the wild. Again, that would equal 1,000,000 polar bear enclosures to match there space they have in the wild. This causes the animals to live shorter lives because they are not in a place they are supposed to be in. They are not in a place where they can run around and hunt and be free.
According to Freedom for Animals, many of the lions, bears, and elephants that are born in a zoo get sent to a circus right when they are born. This is because the zoo does not have enough room to hold all of these baby animals, so they send them to the circus for money. Most animals sent to the circus die because of the poor treatment. In the circus, the animals are treated even worse than if they were in a zoo. At the circus, the animals perform all the tricks and stunts because they are afraid of what will happen if they don’t. The people in the circus use whips, tight collars, muzzles, electric spear, bullhooks(a stick with a sharp curved hook at the end), and many other painful tools.
So what is a sanctuary? There are actually many similarities between zoos and sanctuaries. One similarity is sanctuaries keep animals in some type of enclosure. The difference between the enclosures is that in a zoo, it is a small space where the animal can barely roam around. While in a sanctuary, the animal has loads of space to run around. A tiger enclosure at the zoo would probably be at least fifteen times smaller than the tiger’s enclosure at a sanctuary. Some sanctuaries only have a few animals. For example, one sanctuary can just specialize in lions. Another sanctuary can specialize in bears and wolves.
Zoos usually take animals straight from the wild even though they are perfectly fine. If the zookeepers want an animal, they go out and take the animals. According to Freedom for Animals, in a zoo in the UK, the government gave permission for the zoo to capture over 146 penguins in the wild and put them in their zoo. These penguins had nothing wrong with them, and were not sick or injured. Now you might be thinking, “Don’t sanctuaries also take animals from the wild?” They do, but for a completely different reasons.
Unlike zoos, a sanctuary takes injured or sick animals and keeps them forever, or until they get better. If they see a hurt bear, they will tranquilize it, put it in a truck, and safely bring it to the sanctuary. At the sanctuary, the animal is treated fairly, fed, and kept safe. The people at the sanctuary usually keep the animal mainly because it can’t go in the wild by itself, or just because because they want to study that animal, but sometimes they release it back into the wild.
Another reason sanctuaries are better is because the animals often die prematurely in zoos. For example, an elephant in the wild generally lives three times longer than an elephant in a zoo. This is because the animals cannot get the right resources that they usually get in the wild. In zoos, giraffes are usually fed carrots instead of what they usually eat, acacia, which is a tree found in the wild. Eating carrots doesn’t give the giraffe the nutrients that it needs, so it can die sooner than normal. According to National Geographic, forty percent of lion cubs in a zoo die before even reaching one month of age. In the wild, only thirty percent of the lion cubs die before reaching six months of age. In a sanctuary, the animals live longer because they are not treated poorly, like in a zoo.
A sanctuary does have one similar problem that a zoo has. The sanctuary does not allow the animals to hunt. For example, they feed the lions raw meat, or the bears dead fish. This affects the animals because if they were to ever go in the wild again, they wouldn’t know how to hunt, risking there chance of survival.
Another problem similar to the zoos is, if the animals have babies who come out to be perfectly healthy, they still keep it, not allowing the animal to go back into the wild. When a wolf has wolf cubs, they take it, study it, and keep it from the mother until they thoroughly inspect it to make sure nothing is wrong with it. After that, they return it to its mother until it’s big enough to go to its own enclosure. The people at the sanctuary never release the babies into the wild.
Overall, both sanctuaries and zoos have their ups and their downs. They both take animals and put them in enclosures, but often for different reasons. I personally think that sanctuaries are better for the animals than zoos, but in the end it is your personal choice. To help the animals in zoos or sanctuaries, you can donate to Sandiegozoo.org or go to bestfriends.org to learn about animal sanctuaries, and zoos.