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Zoo’s
Posted: 07 January 2013 04:42 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The thread under US social welfare made me want to start this one.

Forum members, what are your views on Zoo’s?

Are they a waste of money, do you think they promote education about the animal kingdom, and is that even worthwhile?

I think they are a complete waste of money, and ultimately, no one really cares about them.  I should clarify, I don’t think the public generally cares about the stuff zoo’s say they work towards - conservation, research, etc.

[ Edited: 08 January 2013 04:48 AM by mid atlantic ]
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Posted: 07 January 2013 10:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I have a love-hate attitude with zoos. One the one hand they are havens for endangered species and have active release back into the wild programs and hospitals for wounded and crippled wildlife. Plus many zoos now have habitat exibits to better display the animals in their natural settings and provide easy access to the actual animals for more intense studies. But they are anthropocentric and give the wrong impression that animals are here for our enjoyment only and that they don’t mind being caged. Nothing could be further than the truth. I’ve visited many state and national zoos and admit that watching the animals is interesting and educationalbut I feel they’re a bit anachronistic today with access to media programs on practically every species and these show the animals in their true natural habitat. The only way a zoo could accomplish showing animals in that manner is via a park such as the safari in Disney World which would be too costly a project for a typical zoo. It would be up to the people of the state to determine the need for them and I don’t see that happening anytime soon.


Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 07 January 2013 11:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I also have a love/hate relationship with zoos. We have a wonderful local zoo, set up in a safari manner. It was once ranked the worst zoo in the US, with all of the animals in concrete enclosures. They poured millions of dollars into it and turned it into a wonderfully educational area in the hills. People who grow area gardens bring in excess produce and plant material to donate to the animals to give them treats. At this point, there are some animals where there are more of the species in zoos than in the wild, and the zoos may be their only hope of preventing extinction. I have a bigger problem with people who keep exotic pets without the resources zoos have. I also wish zoos and circuses were more strictly regulated, regarding the care of their animals.

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Posted: 08 January 2013 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Before I decided to go to med school, plan A was to go to vet school. I wasn’t as smart as Brennan so here I am. Anyway I spent about a year working in a small city zoo where many of the animals were in small pens. That has since changed and the animals are now in more open enclosures which is obviously not perfect but better.

I disagree that zoo’s don’t do what we think they do in regards to an appreciation for animals and conservation. There will certainly be people who get no more out of a zoo than they do from the circus but I think a good number of the children who eventually grow up to champion animal rights and the green revolution get some of their inspiration from seeing these animals close up. There is a big difference between seeing a lion or tiger on a screen or in a book and looking one in the eye close up.

Brennan would obviously be a better person to comment on the ability of zoos to add to our knowledge of these animals or to help rebuild endangered species stocks. There may be better ways to do both of these things, but I think there is something to be said for their ability to inspire young minds.

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Posted: 08 January 2013 08:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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macgyver - 08 January 2013 08:10 AM

Before I decided to go to med school, plan A was to go to vet school.

I thought you said before that your plan A was to work for NASA.  smirk

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Posted: 08 January 2013 10:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I stand corrected. You have a good memory. I had so many plan A’s when i was younger it’s a bit hard to keep them in order. NASA really was plan A. Veterinarian replaced that as soon as I realized what a long shot NASA was especially since we had a family history of poor eyesight and I was afraid my 20/20 vision wouldn’t hold out ( which turned out to be true).  Unfortunately I lived in NY and at the time i was working towards vet school and Cornell was really the only school that would accept applications form a New Yorker. Most Vet schools at that time had agreements with their own state and a few surrounding states to give their students preference so there were very limited options. I got one B in my freshman year and right or wrong my advisor told me to hang up any dreams of getting into vet school. I actually spent a year after college working in a lab too but realized that competing for grants constantly was not something I wanted to do.

I guess my primary goal was to stay involved in science somehow and still be able to make a living so ultimately i resorted to plan C or D or whatever med school ended up being. Most people would probably prefer that their doctor was one who knew from the day they were born that they wanted to be a doctor but maybe the ones who go into it kicking and screaming have a greater appreciation for it when they finally find they’re doing something that makes a difference. Its a bit immodest but I like to think my long love affair with science and my desire to share it with others has made my patients some of the smartest patients around and helped them stay healthy and understand their illnesses better than most.

Anyway, probably far more than you wanted to know but there it is.

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Posted: 08 January 2013 12:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Actually that was interesting. I like reading your posts—which is why I pay attention to what you say and knew about your previous aspiration of working for NASA.  wink

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Posted: 08 January 2013 01:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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macgyver - 08 January 2013 08:10 AM

I disagree that zoo’s don’t do what we think they do in regards to an appreciation for animals and conservation. There will certainly be people who get no more out of a zoo than they do from the circus but I think a good number of the children who eventually grow up to champion animal rights and the green revolution get some of their inspiration from seeing these animals close up. There is a big difference between seeing a lion or tiger on a screen or in a book and looking one in the eye close up.

I’m thinking of the San Francisco Zoo. I think Brennan would agree with me that it should be shut down. It is a horrible example of a zoo. While I don’t think the tiger attack of a few years ago was the zoo’s fault—those boys had obviously teased that tiger to the point where it wanted revenge, when it escaped, it ignored everyone other than its tormenters, and I am sorry it and their friend were the ones killed—the concrete enclosures are awful and so is the ‘tiger house’.

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Posted: 08 January 2013 01:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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asanta - 08 January 2013 01:42 PM

I’m thinking of the San Francisco Zoo. I think Brennan would agree with me that it should be shut down. It is a horrible example of a zoo. While I don’t think the tiger attack of a few years ago was the zoo’s fault—those boys had obviously teased that tiger to the point where it wanted revenge, when it escaped, it ignored everyone other than its tormenters, and I am sorry it and their friend were the ones killed—the concrete enclosures are awful and so is the ‘tiger house’.

I haven’t been to the SF zoo in quite some time. Although I have vague recollections that they had done a bunch of renovations…

Take care,

Derek

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Posted: 08 January 2013 05:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I haven’t been to the SF zoo in quite some time. Although I have vague recollections that they had done a bunch of renovations…

So, while we’re on the subject of California Zoos what about the San Diego Zoo? I missed it last time we visited there but I’ve heard good things about it and it’s been highly publicized on talk and nature shows.

 

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Posted: 08 January 2013 05:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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We went for the first time last May! (We were visiting my father-in-law down in the area.) It was indeed an impressive zoo.

Take care,

Derek

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Posted: 08 January 2013 06:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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We went for the first time last May! (We were visiting my father-in-law down in the area.) It was indeed an impressive zoo.

Take care,

Derek

I’m glad to hear that! I only wish we’d had the time to visit there but we were visiting my cousin in Mission Viejo and saw a few selected sites before driving back up to his home. We had to drive to Carpentaria from there where we were staying and ran out of time. Still a lot to see on our next trip and the zoo is on the list now.

 

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Posted: 08 January 2013 07:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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The zoo in my area is pretty nice (I suppose).  However, when I was in high school I had to do community service there, and I noticed how miserable the mammals looked. At that point my view on the zoo went from indifference, to dislike.

Ironically, I’m far from an animal rights advocate, and generally have only a small interest in the Zoosphere. question

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Posted: 08 January 2013 11:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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harry canyon - 08 January 2013 01:46 PM
asanta - 08 January 2013 01:42 PM

I’m thinking of the San Francisco Zoo. I think Brennan would agree with me that it should be shut down. It is a horrible example of a zoo. While I don’t think the tiger attack of a few years ago was the zoo’s fault—those boys had obviously teased that tiger to the point where it wanted revenge, when it escaped, it ignored everyone other than its tormenters, and I am sorry it and their friend were the ones killed—the concrete enclosures are awful and so is the ‘tiger house’.

I haven’t been to the SF zoo in quite some time. Although I have vague recollections that they had done a bunch of renovations…

Take care,

Derek

Not nearly enough. They raised the tiger’s fence so there is no possibility of them getting out and going after future tormentors. San Diego has a very nice zoo. I haven’t been there in years though.

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Posted: 09 January 2013 06:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Interesting topic. I grew up largely in San Diego, and I spent a LOT of time in the zoo there, from the 70s into the late 80s. As a kid I used to go ther by myself day after day in the summertime, and it certainly resonated with my love of animals. Then, as a graduate student, I did a Master’s Degree in animal behavior, and my focus was enrichment for captive primates. I spent some 200 hours working with the chimpanzee community at the SF zoo, as well as working with a lot of other animals there and elsewhere before I ended up in vet school.

I too have some ambivalence about zoos. I do believe they serve an important purpose in establishing an attitude or feeling about animals and nature in children, especially kids in urban environments. I don’t know how one would quantify it, but I’ve been a docent and participated in education activities at zoos, and I believe live animals stimulate people, especially kids, to think and care about animals and nature in ways that are necessary for good environmental stewardship. Now whether or not specific behaviors and patterns of voting on environmental and animal welfare issues are effected, I honestly don’t know.

I also think live animal interactions, including at zoos, can be a positive and beneficial experience for people. As a kind of quiet, nerdy kid in a rough urban neighborhood, the zoo was a refuge and a place of beauty for me that I really appreciated.

And I know that zoos raise enormous amounts of money for conservation efforts, and do some limited but important direct conservation and research work.

But I think the ethical concerns about animal welfare in zoos are legitimate as well. My focus as a graduate student involved looking at how to assess the behavioral needs of captive animals and make environemnts more appropriate. There has been a lot of progress in this area, but there are lots of animals still living in impoverished and inadequate zoo environements. There are some, such as cetaceans, elephants, and great apes, for whom we probably can’t make behaviorally appropriate zoo environments. Of course, the naturalistic fallacy is juts that, and I’m not saying zoo animals would necessarily be better off in the wild. But I do think many suffer from inadequate environments despite the good intentions and best efforts of many in the zoo community. And whether the benfits to people and conservation efforts justify the experience of the individual animals in captivity, it’s hard to know how to balance that.

As for the SF Zoo, much of it was built by the WPA in the 1930s and clearly wasn’t suitable by today’s animal welfare standards. There has been tremendous improvement since I worked there in the early 90s, and the zoo has gotten rid of some animals (such as the elephants) that they clearly couldn’t take proper care of. I worked with the gorillas and the chimpanzees, and while the chimp exhibit was seriously substandard at the time, the gorilla exhibit was cutting edge and they had a thriving, healthy group. SF will never be anything like San Diego, or some of the other world class zoos, but I don’t think it’s as bad as it once was. Again, whether the good done justifies the problems doesn’t seem to me an easy call.

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Posted: 10 January 2013 12:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I’ve never liked zoos.  Growing up with the Buffalo Zoo was enough for me.

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