Imagine taking daily hikes and suddenly being snatched and proceeded to be placed into a room that is 18,000 times smaller than a bedroom within a small suburban home (“10 Facts about Zoos”). This is just an insight to the life of an animal put into the factory-farms, zoos, circuses, and SeaWorld. Animal confinement is a branch of the term animal cruelty. Animal cruelty is the intentional acts of violence, neglect, or failure in welfare towards any kind of animal. Animal cruelty has many branches to it: entertainment (zoos, circuses, SeaWorld), lab testing, factory farming, and any physical or psychological harm to an animal. Out of all the branches of animal cruelty acts, entertainment is one of the leading considered the worst as it also causes physical and psychological harm to the animals held captive. Although there are organizations claiming benefits for animals, the confinement and its regulations, in actuality, are detrimental to their well-being.
Despite all the efforts to educate the society of what is going on with animal confinement, one may just read or watch a source about it, but not do any efforts to help stop captivity of wild animals. The problem with this animal incarceration is the fact that although millions of people visit zoos annually, in order to attract more visitors, zoos will use most of that money specifically for gimmicks rather than investing in better enclosures and care for the animals (“Zoos: Pitiful Prisons”). Not only is this occurring at zoos, it is also happening at an establishment known as SeaWorld. SeaWorld is a zoo dedicated mainly to sea creatures, such as, orcas, dolphins, seals, penguins, and polar bears. At SeaWorld, a tank for an orca is very small.
New orca tanks only reach 50 feet deep (orcas dive up to 1,000 feet in oceans), are 350 feet long which is equivalent to 0.07 miles (orcas travel approximately 100 miles daily), and on average, orcas live up to a max of 70 years whereas the average a lifespan is 13 years at SeaWorld (“Why SeaWorld’s Tanks Will NEVER Be Enough”). Due to this lack of bettering tanks, they use most of that money to go towards training the orcas and dolphins for shows, in which, trainers have died due to drastic behavioral changes the animals endure. An ex-SeaWorld employee, Sarah Fischbeck, spoke out about animals conditions at SeaWorld. She states that, as a diver, because the whales were so aggressive toward humans, the divers would have to keep them in a smaller pool than their tanks in order to dive (Schelling).
Not only this but because the tanks were so small, Fischbeck states, “the whales have been spotted with rake marks caused by tankmates’ teeth, and a host of serious injuries caused by fighting” and divers would find pieces of their skin at the bottom of tanks and take them home as souvenirs as well (Schelling). Apart from all these incidents, SeaWorld has claimed that, “Shamu had been kidnapped from her mother—and during her capture, her mother was shot with a harpoon and killed right in front of her. Shamu died six years later, although SeaWorld continued to use the name for various other orcas who were forced to perform in its shows” (“17 Horrible Things SeaWorld Has Done | PETA”). The consequences to these sea creatures well-being is the fact that they are not being cared for correctly and mainly being used for entertainment purposes as SeaWorld focuses more on giving its visitors a show.
In addition, today, there is still a huge controversy over zoos. Some zoos are ethical because approximately three rhinos are killed on an average day and 60% of elephant deaths are caused by poachers, it is better to keep them safe in zoos (“Facts – Wildlife”). From all the poaching that is occurring in Africa right now, it is killing off many of the rhinos and elephants, by having zoos, they serve as a protection mechanism for the animals from poachers and from them going extinct (Borrell). Not only this, but zoos help in educating the public by having those human and animal interactions in real life that documentaries cannot provide (Borrell). A good zoo has an enriched exhibit for its animals as it keeps their animals away from boredom with activities (Borrell).
However, some zoos exist for entertainment value, which is not ethical whatsoever. As zoos are protecting animals from poaching, the animals are actually dying prematurely and display different behavioral problems compared to the ones in the wild (“10 Facts about Zoos”). Instead of keeping the rhinos and elephants in enclosures to protect them from poaching, there is also projects working on dying ivory horns pink to keep the horn from being useful for poachers. The poisons do not harm the animals itself as there is not a link between the bloodstream and horn.
Aside from this, some zoos claim that they have a reintroducing system, in which, they eventually release once injured animals back out to the wilderness or breed animals so they can go back into the wild. Some zoos do not have this reintroduction system and other zoos will lie about having one; “Zoos claim to breed animals for eventual release to the wild but breeding programmes are primarily to ensure a captive population, not for reintroduction, therefore do not serve as a conservation source” (“10 Facts about Zoos”). As more animals are being breed for the zoos and not for them to be reintroduced into the wild, this shows that zoos are more focused on entertainment purposes for an animal.
As polar bears have approximately one million times less space than they do in the wild and safari animals have 18,000 times less space then they do in the wild, “the family passing by an animal exhibit is light and short use, lasting perhaps thirty seconds. Is this justified? Does the benefit to the human family justify the confinement of the animal at the zoo?” (“10 Facts about Zoos”; Favre 193). If a kid is spending a minimum of thirty seconds at an enclosure, but say 10 minutes at a lions’ or tigers’ enclosure because they look cooler than say an armadillo does, how is that child using that thirty second to educate themselves about the animal. How many kids actually read the summary and fact table at zoos for EACH animal?
Furthermore, as a community, in order to support animals, the society need to be more aware that these organizations such as sanctuaries or rehabilitation centers. The reason why there needs to be more of a support to these organizations is the fact that many of them are nonprofit and rely off of the help of volunteers. Unlike zoos, at rehabilitation centers they focus mainly on caring for the animals that are recovering from an illness or an injury then releasing them back into the wild. Whereas sanctuaries, like the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, CO, care for the animals that can no longer survive in the wild on its own, but for the 9793 acres of land split by 19 animals, compared to the Denver Zoo which is only 80 acres of land split by 613 species.
What is an animal sanctuary and how is it different than zoos? According to Doris Lin, who is the legal affairs, for the Animal Protection League, director and works for the department of United States Environmental Protection, “A sanctuary does not breed, buy, sell or trade animals. A sanctuary also does not capture animals from the wild but acquires only animals who can no longer survive in the wild. These might include injured wildlife, confiscated illegal exotic pets, exotic pets who are surrendered by their owners, and animals from zoos, circuses, breeders, and laboratories that close down… As well as providing the animals much more space to roam compared to a zoo” (Lin). Regulations within zoos need to improve, as the confinement for these exotic animals is mainly being seen as a form of entertainment, just like SeaWorld.
Despite the laws pertaining to animal confinement, there is still a lack of enforcement by authoritative figures as well as individuals that believe that they are above the law. The United States has a lack of laws related to animal captivity– even though there are plenty for fighting, testing, and physically abusing. After hearing stories of people owning wild animals (not meant for captivity in a backyard cage) getting mauled, one would think that there would be laws going into not only protecting people, but also the animal itself. These maulings were later then integrated into a television show, Fatal Attractions, on Animal Planet highlighting the issue in which these animals should not be kept as pets.
Within this show, it gives its viewers stories such as the following; “In Illinois, a man was mauled to death by two tigers he kept in his backyard. In North Carolina, a 10-year-old boy was killed by his aunt’s tiger, which pulled the boy under a fence and into its cage” (“Captive Wildlife Laws”). Due to the reasons of violence, these exotic animals should not be kept as pets in the hands of private individuals as these animals do not adjust very well to a captive environment and are dangerous. Because so many of these exotic animals are becoming pets, states have inaccurate records of how many of these exotic animals are being kept as pets; as of now, there is an estimated 5,000 tigers being held by private individuals (“The Dangers of Keeping Exotic Pets”).
There is a total of only THREE federal laws that regulate exotic animals and majority of the United States states also have no laws about governing captive animals (“The Dangers of Keeping Exotic Pets”). A very large trend with private individuals is the backyard breeding of these wild cats with house cats, as “every year, thousands of animals enter the captive wild animal trade. Some of these animals are “surplus” from roadside zoos. Others are captured from their native habitats, or come from backyard breeders or the black market. These wild animals are sold at auctions, pet stores or over the internet. This is due to the lack of regulations of the law” (“Captive Animals”).
By keeping animals in captivity, it poses a serious threat for public safety, “It is expensive and difficult to keep wild animals in captivity. These animals oftentimes live in inhumane conditions” (“Captive Animals”). These regulations within the law are detrimental not only to the animals’ well-being, but also to humanities’ well-being as well. As imprisonment of these animals, results in a spread of Herpes B, Salmonellosis, Monkey Pox, and Ebola (“The Dangers of Keeping Exotic Pets”).
Lastly, not only is there sea and exotic animal captivity, but there is also farm animal captivity. There are two different types of farms in society; factory farming (the cruel treatment and confinement) and normal farming (the one seen on packages with an open field and cows roaming around). By adding veganism into one’s diet, it helps promote the idea of getting rid of how animals are treated in factory farms and fights for animal rights. Being vegan essentially means to not use or consume any animal products and living a plant-based lifestyle; for example, sparing animal lives that would be used for clothing and food (“5 Ways a Vegan Diet Helps to Save Non-Farmed Animals”).
The reason why vegans are strictly against the harm of factory farmed animals is that, “animals raised for human consumption and use suffer tremendously in today’s factory farms. Farmed animals are bred, fed, confined, and drugged to lay more eggs, birth more offspring, and die with more meat on their bones at the expense of their health, wellbeing and social development” (Carmody). Factory farming is detrimental as its purpose is to produce for the increasingly high demand for meat, as, “when production rates of eggs decrease, laying chickens are slaughtered. Not only this but, because male chickens do not lay eggs, factory farmers have no use for them, as they end up getting slaughtered as well” (Carmody).
Not only this, but by going vegan, it will make a monumental impact of the environment as it “will produce 50% less carbon dioxide than a meat-eater, and will save 7,300 lbs of Co2 every year” (“5 Ways a Vegan Diet Helps to Save Non-Farmed Animals”). Vegans may claim that they are bettering the environment by slowing down the demand for meat, but in actuality, the push for the promotion of veganism is harming those animals as well as the surrounding environment. Palm oil has been proven to be one of the most used oils right next to coconut oil with veganism; production of palm oil is more destructive for the environment than farming actually is, “the palm-oil that’s mainly being used for vegan cooking is destroying more than 12,000,000 acres of land” (Favre 94).
This usage of palm oil creates lots of air pollution from the deforestation in order to grow more palm trees. Not only this, but in the agricultural farming industry within the United States use a petroleum-based fertilizer this creates pollution and a toxic chemical, with spring rains, these chemicals are brought down into the coasts and is a factor in deaths within our marine life (Favre 94). With this continuous growth in demand for meat, farms will keep producing more animals for slaughter, but when an animal is slaughtered, all parts will be used up.
Overpopulation in farm animals will begin to occur as more and more people begin to become vegans. If everyone were to become vegan, all the excess farm animals can potentially be killed off for no reason (Favre 100). With all parts being used in the slaughterhouse, bones of the animals’ carcass or other body parts can be used in pet food. Because dogs and cats are known to be omnivores (pushing closer to carnivores), by putting a dog or cat on a vegan based diet is harmful for the pet (“Why a Vegan Diet Will Kill Your Cat (and Sicken Your Dog)”).
According to Dr. Holland Dougherty, who has a PhD in animal biology, and Rachel Garner, whose an animal science educator with professional experience with animal care, they claim, “being carnivores, dogs and cats both have a short intestine length and are predisposed to do best on diets composed of quickly digestible foodstuffs like protein… Cats and dogs also don’t have many of the specific enzymes that are required to digest many complex plant proteins” (“Why a Vegan Diet Will Kill Your Cat (and Sicken Your Dog)”).
In conclusion, although there are organizations claiming benefits for animals, the confinement and its regulations, in actuality, are detrimental to their well-being. The only possible way to support the cause to end animal harm is to donate to non-profit organizations that aid in fighting for the freedom of animals, as well as fight for not destroying their habitats;in the United States that exist include the Defenders of Wildlife, Animal Welfare Institute, World Wide Fund for Nature, and Paws (“11 Wildlife Organizations You Should Know”). Not only this, but aiding in a local sanctuary or rehabilitation centers for animals. There is many ways to help out sanctuaries, such as: making a donation, volunteering (as sanctuaries rely sloley on volunteers), pledging support, interning, and fundraising (“The Wild Animal Sanctuary | Keenesburg, CO | Ways To Help”).