Zoos are making animals “depressed” and will one day be “liquidated” for good, an animal rights activist has predicted.
The complaint comes after a New York court issued a landmark ruling that an elephant named Happy was not entitled to publicity and was not unlawfully kept at the Bronx Zoo.
The judges agreed that the elephants were “intelligent beings deserving of proper care and compassion”, but that they did not have the same rights as humans.
The ruling came as a relief to zookeepers who argued it would empty their enclosures and open the floodgates to lawsuits on behalf of pets and farm animals.
‘Vvery little place in true conservation’
However, it was a bitter disappointment for animal rights activists who believe that zoos are a cruel hangover from a bygone era and should be abolished:
“Zoos play very little role in real conservation,” said animal rights activist John Carmody Newstalk breakfast.
“Yes, there are problems with animals in their natural environment, but you have to remember that it was us who came here and destroyed their environment.
“We destroyed their rainforests and now what we’re doing is we’re taking these animals out of the wild, putting them in enclosures that are completely unnatural to them.
“It sometimes causes animals to suffer from depression and other situations that cause them pain because they are held in captivity and captured from the wild.”
Mr Carmody added that he didn’t think Happy would ever be free, but that the era of zoos was coming to an end:
“What we can do is work towards a future where we can reduce zoos and I think that’s definitely going to happen,” he continued.
“And yes, I know that by the minute zoos are very popular with people by the minute… But definitely nowadays there should be no reason why we continue to keep animals in zoos. zoos.”
This is a controversial view and one that Gerry Creighton, consultant to zoos around the world on elephant care, strongly disagrees with:
“I’m working right now with a zoo in the UK where I’m running a program where we’re going to release nine African elephants into the wild in July,” he explained.
“This is the kind of work that zoos do and they aim.
“Conservation is essential to the functioning of these economies, of these countries.”
He also defended the work scientists do in zoos, hailing the “incredible work” some have recently published on the sleeping habits of elephants in captivity.
“Now I would love to see all the animals in the wild, don’t get me wrong, but there’s nothing like it in its current format,” he concluded.
Wild v Captivity
It is believed that there are between 15 and 20,000 captive elephants around the world; whereas in the wild there are only 40-50,000.
This means that half of the world’s elephant population lives in a zoo.
Main image: Baby Asian elephants pictured at Dublin Zoo this morning in front of large crowds expected this Zoo Bank Holiday weekend. Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie