Captivity sacrifices animal rights

Edward Benner, News Editor

Walking through the Baltimore Zoo on a blistering July day, I can’t help but notice  the grim looks on the faces of the animals. The polar bears sit in open sunlight in pens with fences separating them. The chimpanzees are piled into a glass enclosure and bang against the glass as they are bombarded with camera flashes and loud noises. The scene sickens me, and I wonder, “What they did to deserve this?”

Each year, nearly half of the American population visits zoos and aquariums, according to Statistic Brain, a research institute dedicated to tabulating numbers and determining statistics.

With modern technology and advances in photo and video capturing, the debate over whether the existence of these establishments is necessary or ethical has become more prevalent. Even in 2016, there is little legislation protecting the rights of the animals in captivity.

The only major law enacted in the United States is the Animal Welfare Act, which only protects warm-blooded mammals like elephants, tigers, and lions from unfair treatment.All other animals are excluded from this act, and there are only minimal standards for the conditions the animals are subjected to in captivity.

The bottom line is that zoos and aquariums violate an animal’s right to life. They are taken from their natural habitat and placed in conditions where they are bored, restricted in movement, and subjected to stressful and unnatural situations on a daily basis.

These conditions alter the behavior and genetic makeup of the animals over time. The animals adapt to these unnatural situations and pass these traits onto their offspring.

Animals that are eventually released have problems readapting to their natural environment as they often lose necessary instincts regarding survival and interaction.

While many argue that zoos and aquariums are beneficial for the preservation of endangered species and the ability to conduct scientific research, they overstep the boundaries of human influence. Humans are merely part of the natural order and have no right or authority to alter its other members.

Zoos and aquariums can foster positive relationships between humans and animals and inspire concern for preservation, but ultimately their existence causes more harm than good. Animals have a right to exist in the wild, in the habitats they are naturally adapted to, and to be subjected to natural selection.

For those who want the opportunity to learn more about animals, visiting their actual habitats or sanctuaries where they dwell is a far more acceptable option.

In these areas, the animals survive in the proper conditions with the freedoms granted to them by their existence in the natural world. The utilization of technology to learn about animals is another alternative to visiting aquariums and zoos. High definition images and videos captured in the most remote areas provide the same insights and eliminate the cruelty.

It is undeniable that zoos and aquariums are large sources of revenue and are enjoyed by millions each year, but they cannot continue in their current state. Stricter legislation needs to be passed to protect all animals, not just the large, warm-blooded animals that garner compassion. Humanity needs to finally open its collective eyes and realize that zoos and aquariums are violating and harming their natural brothers and sisters.

Edward Benner is a News Editor for The Patriot and