Humanity always holds itself in high regard and thus considers all other creatures as inferior. However, what is unknown to many people is that all creatures of the world exist independent from the other. The birds, the lions, the elephants, the tigers, etc. all have lives and want to exist in environments that help them to grow and appreciate what is around them. But, instead of allowing them to exist on their own and in their natural habitats, mankind has taken upon himself to ensure that all animals are kept for his pleasure. The right to life and freedom of movement appear to apply to mankind only and hence the many zoos that are inexistent. However, since creatures exist independent from the other, it is only right to make sure that animals live in environments that help them grow and exist independent from human beings. Animals do have rights and thus should not live in captivity. For mankind to want to keep animals in cages is selfish and only highlights the dark side of humanity, which is often loaded with pride and greed. Building on the above, this paper thus seeks to support the notion that animals should not be kept in captivity for entertainment purposes. The reasons discussed will be based on the notions that while living in captivity, animals are deprived of the ability to live freely and also the fact that the cages and zoos are never designed with the animals in mind but with people in mind and how they can get the most pleasure out of viewing the animals.
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While living in captivity, animals are limited and cannot engage in their natural or instinctual behaviors as they should. For mankind, their choices are left untouched, and people are allowed to make whichever choices in their lives. However, when animals are held captive, they are denied their fundamental rights, which mainly include the right to make choices for their lives. Animals Charter (np) notes that animals held captive “have no ability to decide what they will eat, where they will sleep, or who their mates will be.” These are choices that need to be left untouched, but that humanity forcefully denies animals. Such choices confirm a creature’s existence and makes living worthwhile. With these choices taken away, animals get to have limited options, and this makes life stressful instead of easy enough to want to live the next day. For humankind, stress is only reserved for them, and it is thus difficult to consider that animals could be stressed as well. However, when their options are limited, animals get stressed, and it becomes incredibly difficult for them to live as freely as they should.
It is also crucial to point out that animals in captivity are forced to endure conditions of physical as well as psychological pain. The repercussion or implication of the above is that is hampers their development and changes the way they should live and develop. As indicated before, every animal needs its natural habitat to grow to enjoy life. However, when animals are kept in captivity and forced to do things they have not naturally evolved to do, they end up being in pain, and this also breaks their spirit as indicated by the World Animal protection (3). A good example are the elephants used to carry or transport tourists in jungles. The article notes that “elephants destined for the tourist industry experience great physical and mental trauma. Isolation, starving, hitting, and beating are just some of the methods used to initially break their spirits and get them to behave and perform.” Even though in the end, these animals do as they are supposed to, they grow up in pain and fear of their masters. The article continues to note that like human beings, “elephants can develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” (3). These are facts that are possibly unknown to the individuals running the zoos and keeping animals in captivity. A life of physical and psychological pain or torture is not one that should be endured in silence. So, it is crucial that animals be granted their rights and be allowed to live and exist in their natural habitats.
As creatures that have rights, it is unfair that animals are denied the freedom of making their natural choices. As indicated earlier, all living things exist independent from the other. This statement means that like humans, animals also have different lives and look forward to the next day like mankind. Taking this away from them means that a fundamental part of their lives is removed. A 2019 article from the Animal Defense Fund notes that in the U.S., “common animals kept as pets include lions, tigers, cougars, ocelots, servals, wolves, bears, alligators, snakes and nonhuman primates like chimpanzees.” Well, these animals are strained because they are not allowed to exist in their natural habitats. In the end, the results are catastrophic. These animals have rights, and even though humanity considers the act of keeping pets as their right, it is crucial to gift these creatures a fair chance by allowing them to exist all on their own. Endangering the lives of others should not be considered entertainment. In his 2010 article, Singer captures the readers’ attention with a story about an orca that killed a SeaWorld trainer. He notes that this incident should be the turning point or should offer zoo keepers and those who entertain animal captivity a point to consider. Animals need to be given the chance to make their natural choices, and this should stem from the fact that they are living and thus have rights.
Animal captivity also encourages the separation of animals from their families and herds, and this means that some animals are subjected to lifetimes of solitary confinement. Like human beings, animals also exist in large social groups or exist in herds which make up their family. Having a family is a natural right and should thus not be taken away from any creature. Instances that involve children being taken away from their mothers have often attracted a lot of attention from the media, and the public has also voiced their opinion on the issue as well. It is cruel to pluck or remove a child from its family. However, while people respond with anger when this happens to human beings, they never seem to find their voice when it happens to animals. Animal Charter (2016) notes that when kept in zoos, animals “are forced into unnatural and inappropriate social groupings.” Elephants are kept in isolation, yet they never exist as individuals while in the wild. The zoo industry appears to be focused on making money to a point where they ignore and never want to consider the wellbeing of the animals. Aside from being taken away from their families, once in the zoos, these animals are never safe. When kept with other animals, it is possible for an animal to form bonds and have a social group even while in the zoo. However, even this is always at risk because at any time, the animals in the zoos can be taken away and be sold or traded. These are but cruel ways of dealing with animals. Even though their mental capacity may not be as developed as that of the human beings, it is unfair to disregard the basics of family and social groups.
To help protect animals, some governments (both local and national) do not have any laws in place to help ensure animals are protected. This means that these animals are at the mercy of the zoo owners whose sole focus is to make money. A good example of a law that protects animals in zoos and circuses is The Animal Welfare Act. This 1966 act does anything but protect animals from the cruelty of mankind. The Animal Defense Fund notes that this act only protects warm-blooded animals. Additionally, the protections offered under this law are also minimal, which means that it is ceremonial and thus cannot be depended upon in the fight to ensure that all animals are protected even while in captivity. Factors like family and maintenance of animal social groups are all but ignored, and no one seems willing to pay close attention to animals.
Lastly, some of the cages and places animals are kept in quite small. This limits the distance animals can travel. For marine and other land animals, this is a big disadvantage and one that limits these animals from truly living their lives and enjoying their environment. Zoos are but a fraction of what the natural habitat for animals is. They fall short on what animals gain from their natural habitats. Animal Charter notes that while in their natural habitats, “animals would travel vast distances in the wild in search of food, exercise, and social opportunities.” However, currently, animals are forced to find their way in tiny spaces which not only limit their movement but also any opportunities that may come along the way. Even though zoos often try to imitate the forest environment, they cannot offer what natural forests do, and in the end, animals are forced to make do with what is available. For marine animals, it is worse because the majority are kept in pools with limited depths and short width. So, the animals kept in such environments are not able to travel as far as they can while in oceans and seas. These limits make it impossible for aquatic animals to exist as naturally as they should.
In conclusion, all animals exist independent from others. It is true that mankind is gifted with a higher mental ability compared to other animals. However, it is not right for mankind to possess the power to determine the fate of other animals. Every animal deserves to grow within the confines of family and a happy social group. It is only fair that human beings offer the same opportunities they have to other animals even though they are inferior in many other ways.
- Animals Charter. Animals Used for Entertainment. Animal Charter. 2016. https://www.animalcharter.ca/entertainment/ Accessed June 2, 2019.
- Animals Legal Defense Fund. Captive Animals. Animals Legal Defense Fund. 2019. https://aldf.org/focus_area/captive-animals/ Accessed June 2, 2019.
- Singer, Peter. Let wild animals be wild. The Guardian, 8th March 2010. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cif-green/2010/mar/08/wild-animals-captivity-seaworld-orca Accessed June 2, 2019.
- World Animal Protection. The show can’t go on. World Animals Protection. 2014.