The family stops to let the childrenride the minitrain and take pictures together under the tree. They walk hand-in-hand toward the exit, stopping first at the gift shop where they each splurgeon a treat to remind them of the day’s adventure. Although this may sound likea typical scene from the local amusement park, it’s actually the city zoo. Allthat forgotten was walking from cage to cage watching the anxious animals paceback and forth in their closed-in prisons (Hope, 1994). Their cages feel coldand desolate.
The concrete floor provides no warmth and the atmosphere issterile. The animals do not appear very happy in this closed-in environment. Just who are these anxious animals? They are the common everyday animals anychild could name: the bears, the tigers, the elephants and the monkeys. Whatabout the rest of the world’s unique creatures? Hundreds of species areendanger of becoming extinct, and conservation is in need.
Extinction is apermanent issue. The treatment of all our animals and their rights is importantas well. As concern for the world’s animals becomes more prominent in the news,our zoos rise up to meet the challenge. Animal’s rights and their treatment,regardless of species, have been brought to attention and positive movementsmade. While the number of endangered species grows, zoos attempt to do theirpart in conservation.
Both in and out of the park, zoos and their scientist dotheir best to help these species. Efforts out in the field within the UnitedStates as well as other countries are currently in progress. The question liesin the worthiness of these efforts. Is the conservation successful? Are theseefforts being done for the right reasons? Will zoos remain as a form of familyentertainment or will the enjoyment of the patrons become unimportant? While itis obvious that things are changing, the eventual goals might not be so clear.
As the concern shifts from entertainment to conservation, the zoo’s efforts areexamined, both in the park and beyond, and their motives judged. As cities became more and more urbanized, it was harder to still havefirst-hand contact with nature. Time schedules were busier and no one couldreally afford to spend an entire day to drive out to the countryside. City zoostook over that connection to nature, especially for the cityfolks.
Afternoonvisits to the zoo became a fun form of family entertainment (Arrandale, 1990). Even though the bars separated the two worlds, it allowed the people to see theanimals. When this interaction began to take place, people examined theseinstitutions for their concern for the animals. The intentions were obvious, toprovide the public with the ability to be around these creatures, but were theirmethods ethical? Animals were displayed for the general public’s enjoyment(Diamond, 1995). As one critically judges the physical environment of theseanimals they can personally decide whether ethics were compromised.
Some arguedthat the zoos provided a safe home and regular meals for the animals, and forthis they should be happy. On the flip side, these creatures were caged andunable to thrive in the wild (Burke, 1990). Under observation, zoos are examinedfor the humanity with which they treat the animals. Animal welfare has become aconcern within our country. This group is not to be confused with the animalrights movement. Without the use of violence, one of the animal welfaremovement’s goals is to improve the way these institutions, like the city zoos,provide for these animals (Burke, 1990).
Honoring the conservation efforts,they simply want to make sure the animals are cared for with the highest levelsof concern, both physically and nutriently (Diamond, 1995). Human rights areestablished in the written form of laws, and these activists speak on behalf ofthe animal’s rights (Burke, 1990). While some views, like fighting for theequality of animals and humans, might seem extreme, no one can argue that theanimal’s rights need to remain an important issue when providing care at thezoos (Burke, 1990). The days of a zoo simply providing a recreational place for a family tospend their afternoon together are over. The purpose of zoos has changedconsiderably since their formation. The switch from pure entertainment toeducation and conservation is a direct result of the growing .