Denver Direct: Zoo = Animal Prison

Friday, July 18, 2008

Zoo = Animal Prison

A zoo contains a variety of animals gathered in one place for the education and entertainment of the human visitors. From the animals point of view, it is a life-sentence in prison.

Although recent attempts have been made to make the prison more “homey”, it is still a prison. Animals with natural habitat measured in miles are confined to one measured in feet.

Most animals in prison soon become insane. Deprived of their natural surround, including contact with their families, they become psychotic: pacing, pulling out hair, repetitive motion and aggression are all evidence of their pitiful mental state.

Now, in a time when many zoos are realizing that elephants are highly intelligent creatures with long lives and complex family structure, and consequently reducing or eliminating their elephant inmates, one zoo wants to imprison more.

The Denver Zoo.

The Denver Zoo wants to spend $50 million to enlarge and enhance their elephant prison (next to the polluted Duck Lake). They want to add three more elephants to the two, Dolly, age 39, and Mimi, age 49, already held in life-time captivity. This insanity must be stopped.

“The Denver Zoo, like others in the United States, is under pressure to improve the living conditions of its elephants or move them elsewhere. Some critics, such as Marc Bekoff, a former biology professor at the University of Colorado, say even a roomier exhibition area that mimics the elephants’ home turf is not adequate because of the complex social relationships they form in the wild.

“They’re big, emotional, smart animals with phenomenal memories,” Bekoff said. “You just can’t plop an animal here and there and form a group. I hate to say it, but the Denver Zoo doing what major zoos have decided not to do makes absolutely no sense at all.”

Craig Piper, the zoo’s chief executive officer, argues that zoos can help preserve the species, both directly and by giving them public exposure that will lead to more support for conservation measures.”

Call the Denver Zoo and tell them you don’t want to imprison more of these intelligent animals. (303) 376-4800

P.S. And please don’t think I’m an “animal rights” person. But imprisoning a sentient creature as smart (or smarter) than we are, as we do our own criminals, is itself criminal.