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But What About the Zoo?

Mychal Bean, 13, USA

Yesterday I watched a nature show that was about people who take wild animals in as pets. Experts would talk about each animal and then say how many miles of open land that it would need to fullfill its needs. The numbers were outrageous, but true -- something around 250 miles for a tiger and 300-something for a giraffe. But when I was watching this show I thought, what about the zoo? Most animal cages in the zoo have way less than a mile of open space. Yes, I know that most of these animals were raised in the zoo, and yes, that the zoo tries to help stir up concern and interest from the public for them, but don't you think that they should have a little more space?

Think of it this way. Humans are used to being able to get out of their homes and going someplace (shopping, school, etc.). Tigers and giraffes are used to being able to get up and roam around to hunt and look for water. That is what the 250 and 300 miles are for. Now think about tigers and giraffes being moved into a cage, less than half a square mile in size. Think about us being stuck in HALF our homes, all day, everyday. All of our food, water, and everything else is given to us. We are given one to two people to make friends with, even maybe to become our future wives and husbands. Think about this for a minute, and now you know what it would be like to be a wild animal that has been moved from its home to a zoo.

One type of zoo that I really do enjoy is the type that you can drive through. The type where all of the animals don't have a cage. They can roam around miles and miles of land. This is the best type of zoo. I am sure that if animals had a choice of being able to live in this type of zoo, or in a cage, they would pick this type. It is also much more fun, for us, to be able to see the natural actions of wild animals. It can be interesting to watch a tiger play in a water stream from a hose, but it cannot compare to two tiger cubs play-fighting and running around outside.

At the zoo I usually go to, the elephants almost always stand shifting their feet on a cement floor, hay scattered around them, with just a few tall, but small, wooden tents for shade here and there. Around their ankles are huge chains, and the chains are hooked onto rings stuck in the cement floor. The poor things can hardly take three steps before being pulled back by the chains! I really think that is even more unfair than being in a small home, which they are already in. I think that if the zoo changes one thing, it should be the way they treat the elephants.

Go visit the zoo today, and think about the way they treat the animals. Is it fair? Even go up to someone from the zoo and ask them what the average space in the animals' cages is, then ask them how many square miles that the animals need in the wild. Ask them what they do to help fullfill the animals needs of space. Be concerned. Then go visit a drive-through zoo. Compare that to a zoo with cages. Educate yourself.

It may sound like I am putting down the zoo, but I am not. I am actually grateful for the zoos around America. They do help people learn about animals and what is really happening to them. Like I said before, most of these animals have been raised in the zoo since they were very young, but I am sure that the feeling that they need to roam and hunt still lives inside them. The zoo does try to fullfill that need by playing with the animals, hiding food in monkeys' cages under leaves and hay, and giving the animals the choice of being able to be seen or not with the doors in the back that open, but I am sure that is not enough. Have you ever seen a tiger in its cage pacing back and forth?