Tilikum the Orca, Andrew Linzey, and zoos
Saw the story in the news about the Orca that killed his trainer (Killer whale experts say: Reintroduce Tilikum to the wild) and it made me think about zoos. I used to love zoos when I was a kid and I still feel a certain attraction. I've been many times to the San Francisco Zoo, the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park there too and when I lived in Portland I almost became a volunteer at the zoo caring for the raptors until I found out I'd be feeding them live mice (eek!). I've also been to San Diego SeaWorld and seen the Orca show, though I haven't been to the Florida park where the trainer was killed by Tilikum.
- Tatiana, the Siberian tiger who attacked and killed someone at the San Francisco Zoo and who was shot dead
But zoos make me sad now because they seem like animal prisons. Of course, some zoos are better than others and some do research and conservation work, but even so, the conditions at many are horrendous. The bottom line is that zoos take animals from their natural habitats (or bead them in captivity) to use as objects of curiosity and entertainment, while we gobble up what was once their home.
Anglican priest, theology professor at Oxford, and director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, Andrew Linzey, has little good to say of zoos (What are zoos for? BBC) ......
[...] As Professor Andrew Linzey, director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, says the real story is the plight of animals in zoos and Nuremberg is further evidence of the harm they cause. "When we've taken over their lives, made them dependent on us, and submitted them to an unnatural regime, we have a special moral responsibility for them," he says.
"The creation of dependency always involves direct duties. It's implausible to argue that just because it happens in nature, we should allow it to happen in an environment where we have artificially made them dependent on us," he adds. "If you really like polar bears and care for them and think they are an important part of the ecosystem then help to preserve their natural habitat. Zoos actually make a minuscule contribution to conservation."
- This chimpanzee was passed around five zoos before arriving in a Texas roadside zoo at the age of 37 - Wikipedia