Don’t Steal Healthy and Safe Animals for Display in Zoos

Target: Kevin Shea, Administrator, U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

Goal: Demand zoos use only rescued animals for human display.

Zoos can be a wonderful place to visit. They give us exposure to animals we may never see otherwise in real life. Through these experiences, people can learn more about all the creatures found on the planet and their habits and connections to one another. Zoos also offer opportunities for animals who are endangered or injured and will not survive in the wild. Not only does this give us a chance to fulfill curiosity about other creatures, it gives those animals a second chance at life.

Unfortunately, zoos do not operate so altruistically. Out of the estimated 800,000 animals in zoos, those that are bred in captivity also end up behind bars with generations after them never getting to run free. While it is understandable zoos have an invested interest in staying stocked with animals, they should not lose sight of their goal to operate in the best interest of wildlife under their supervision. Using all or mostly animals rescued from unsafe circumstances is the best way to improve zoo operations.

Rescued animals can include those that are injured or healthy animals close to extinction. Injured animals who may die in the wild can live safely in captivity given they have care sympathetic to the adjustment from their natural habitat. Those facing extinction can be protected, too, chiefly in the event any safely bred in zoos are correctly reintroduced to the wild. According to PETA, animals facing extinction only make up 18% of those in zoos, evidence there is much work to be done to make these establishments a place to sustain species the world may lose otherwise.

Sign the petition below to urge Administrator Shea towards an understanding for how important it is for zoos to be about animal conservation, not just human recreation.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Administrator Shea,

Every year, animal welfare is more important to people than in previous generations. U.S. zoos have always operated on a platform revolving around conservation, though not much has been done to improve animal welfare efforts at a reasonable pace. Their cages are stocked with wildlife that may not need human help whether from injury or endangerment. Those who do face extinction are bred more for entertainment rather than their survival. This is where APHIS needs to step in.

Because zoos will always be popular for children and interested adults alike, they still can survive with a shift in business model. Plenty of animals with permanent injury can be sourced from the wild and nurtured in captivity given fair and understanding care. In addition, with more animals facing endangerment and extinction every day, zoos have a fabulous chance to not only facilitate the survival of these poor creatures, but maintain a population for people to enjoy and learn about. Remember, zoos are first and foremost for the animals.

We urge you to reevaluate the guidelines governing zoos and to enforce a more animal-centric approach to their operation.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Andrew King


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