Zoos, Aquariums, and Animal Welfare
When it comes to zoos and aquariums and the welfare of their animals, it seems that everyone has an opinion. There are those who support them – more than 700 million yearly visitors worldwide. And those who oppose them – look at the furor stirred up last year over the movie about killer whales and the recent killing of a healthy giraffe at a Danish zoo
So, should we do away with zoos and aquariums or is their contribution to public enlightenment and to conservation just too compelling? In the United States alone, zoos and aquariums have spent more than a billion dollars on field conservation projects over the last 10 years. Who else can say that?
I would like to explore this issue in some detail, visiting cities in North America and Europe and talking to the people at the center of this controversy – the zoo keepers, the animal rights activists, and the public at-large. The goal of the project is to begin a rational discussion that explores what is truly best for the animals. I will explore these issues and set up an ongoing, international forum for discussion – a discussion that will take place via social media and a series of on-line seminars. I would also like to develop a think-tank of people with open minds, clear thinking, long-term vision, and compassion for animals to come together with a common purpose – to preserve animal populations that are at the mercy of the relentless advance of human civilization.
A Vision for the Future of Animals in Captivity
Perhaps we can develop standards of protection similar to the United Nations’ Declaration of Rights for Indigenous Peoples (which protects the rights and dignities of those human populations that cannot defend themselves) while ensuring that the valuable contributions of zoos, marine parks, and aquariums are honored and supported. .
How do we stop the decline of species on a planet that is hungry for human space? I don’t have all of the answers, but I want to ask the questions.