Zoos and I have an uncomfortable relationship. I go to zoos to capture the animal’s who live in them, but I spend alot of my time in tears. I cry whilst witnessing the big cats pacing up and down their cages. I cringe at the amount of space the Elephants have to walk around in. I tell the captive birds how sorry I am whilst their free brothers and sisters fly wild overhead. Every single captive animal in a zoo has their own story to tell in their eyes.
I’m on a mission to capture their loves, hates, hopes and frustrations. Their individuality despite their captivity.
Zoos were primarily invented to provide a source of entertainment for humans and to make money, which is definitely not something I agree with, but these days SOME zoos are better than others, keeping in mind zoos are still all about making money …from animals
A good zoo is involved in worldwide captive breeding programs for endangered species, a small percentage of which are successful in releasing animals back to the wild. Good zoos provide their animals with enviromental enrichment, to try to stop the boredom they feel being in the same enclosure day in, day out. Animals in zoos develop stereotypical behaviours such as rocking back and forth, repetitive pacing and fence licking… and that’s just to name a few. Progressive zoos spend money on new enclosures with the particular specie’s needs in mind and often do their best to copy as much as possible from their wild homes into their captive homes. Great keepers also form strong bonds with the animals they look after.
A bad zoo is a place you walk into where you just know that they do not care about the animals. Over the years I’ve been to zoos and animal parks where the animal’s water has turned to mud, where the enclosures were full of bread that the owners had thrown in for the animals feed and where the animals beaks and nails were so overgrown that they were starting to curl. So many zoos around the world are disgusting, barren, concrete wastelands full of sad, trapped and sick animals. Animals who never did anything wrong to condemn them to lives in hell.
Either way, good zoo or bad zoo, the animals are the ones who are trapped because of human’s selfish need to destroy the planet for their own gain and their desire to possess and control everything around them.
Animals don’t belong to humans and they certainly don’t belong in cages.
Below is a slideshow of selected captive animals in zoos from over the years.
Please don’t use my images without permission. All images are Copyright Tamara Kenneally.