Philosophy 115 April 8, 2017 Violation of Nonhumane Entitlements due toCaptivity It is said that to protectwildlife, we need to be educated about the wildlife that inhabits our planet. As humans,we put exotic animals, aquatic and terrestrial, in zoos or aquariums where people can go to see them to learn more about themtoprotect them. It just so happens that,by putting these animals into captivity, we are causing more damage to them, just as damage is occurring in the wild and more species are becoming extinct.
Animals should not be held in captivity; this deprives them of living decent and dignified lives. The first zoo in the United States was established in 1874 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia zoo first only had 813 animals but has grown today to have 1,300 animals, still having the same forty-two acres as it did when it first opened. Today there are zoos in almost every major city across the country and even more around the world. But along with zoos, thereare marine parks and aquariums (National Geographic).
The most famous marine park is SeaWorld, which has three different locations in the nation: Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio. Zoos and aquariums were first brought about to learn about the species that we live with on this planet, tobe educated about the wild creatures who are so different from ourselves. Zoos and the caging of wild animalshave been around for centuries. There is evidence from Egypt of rulers having wild animals as pets, locking them in cages. Today, zoos are used for education to teach people about wild animals so that we canlearn ways to conserve the planet and the animals’ habitats,toprevent more animals from becoming extinct.
Due to humans killing animals, loss of habitat and global warming, more and more species have been going extinct. The goal of every zoo, aquarium, reserve, and marine park is to bring awareness of the need that the wildlifeneedssaving(National Geographic). Most extinctions are caused by humans. With our ever-growing need to explore the planet, we have taken control of numerous species’ habitats and thus they die offsincethey have nowhere to go and are unable to adapt to new environments. Wars we have waged have also destroyed habitats, not to mention the hunting and poaching that occurs for furs, tusks, and other animal parts that can potentially be bought for a lot of money. According to Maratha Nussbaum’s Capabilities approachanimals are entitled to a flourishing life anddignified life.
By destroying their habitats this is a direct violation of their entitlements such ascontrol over onesenviroment. Nussbaum discusses thatwe should have respect for animal’s habitats whether that is domestic or in the wild. (Nussbaum 400). Atzoosor animal parks, you will hear the staff talking about conservation of wildlife numerous times because that is their overall message they are trying to reach people. They are trying to educate peopleso they can save these animals. (Gruen132-140)For example, at SeaWorld, before watching the whale show, they give a presentation about how whales need to be preserved, saying that we should save the oceans so that the orca species can live on for many years to come.
But whatdo whales jumping out of a poolhavedo with saving the oceans? Scientists, zoologists, and the staff at zoos all agree that by keeping species in captivity, the species is benefiting from it. For some species, captivity is the only reason why their species is surviving. For example, thenumberof tigers that are owned by private individuals is much higher than the population of tigers that are in the wild (Mason et al115-1125). Thisloss ofpopulation is due to destruction of habitat and hunting of the tigers for their fur.
Having a higher population in captivity is not only true for tigers but also for the golden coin turtles, Asian elephants, and orangutans. Some of the animals kept in zoos and reserves are those who are not able to be released back into the wild after being rescued from poaching or have diseases. Because of this, places like the Taman Safari in Indonesia was founded so these animals can live free in their natural habitat without having to deal with the poachers. Jenna Watts, from CNN, says in her article “Are animals in cages a necessary evil?” that the animals in places like the Taman Safari “are ambassadors of their kind”.
She says that if more people learn about these animals that they will be more likely to want to save them, not kill them or destroy their habitat. However, ABC News reports that while Adam Roberts, senior vice president of the animal protection advocacy group Born Free USA, was on “Good Morning America,” he said that You’re not getting the right education about what animals are like in the wild. That’s why we believe that you should keep wildlife in the wild. That’s best for animals and it’s best for the people. We’re not getting benefit form zoo-going or from circus-going, and more importantly, as you unfortunately have seen recently, there is the potential for attack,(“Should Animals Be Held in Captivity?”). Roberts was referencing to the tiger attack that had occurred recently at the time in San Francisco, where a tiger killed a seventeen-year-old boy, after the tiger had scaled twenty-foot tall wall to get to him.
When in captivity, the animals are with humans all the time. They are fed by them, see the veterinarians, enclosures cleaned by them, and sometimes if born in captivity are raised byhumans. Due to this, these animals are not scared of humans, they work with humans non-stop in captivity and can be potentially dangerous when they get curious and decide to attack a human. A tiger for example that was raised in captivityand around humans,may believe that they are just playing with a zookeeper or a visitor but playing to them, may be killing to a human.
Thisis a perfect example relatingto Nussbaum and the capabilitiesapproachregarding play,animalshave theright participate in play. However, this play can be detrimental to humans and the animals because animals willoften get punished forplay (Nussbaum 400). Theseanimals that attack humans are often put down because they are too dangerous to be around humans. How is euthanizing an animal supposed to saveitsspecies from extinction? If the animal was never in captivity in the first place, it would have been in the wild, away from humans and no chance in attacking a human with theconsequence of being put down.
It is also believed that the breeding programs are keeping the species alive because they do not allow inbreeding whereas in the wildthe population is dwindling, they are mating with relatives since there is such a small selection for mates. This is causing mutations and diseases in the species just as it would if humans were to inbreed. Zoos all over the world have breeding programs that are trying to keep each species alive for more years to come. For the tigers, the Taman Safari is the number one breeding program, its goal is to keep the remaining six types of tigers from extinction, and two types have already been extinct. There are also programs for other animals such as the ones at SeaWorld for orcas and dolphins.
Even though they are doing this amazing work by trying to keep the species alive, it doesn’t mean that these animals should be kept in cages their entire lives. Yes, it is wonderful that they take in wounded and diseased animals to save them, but a cage or enclosure is not where they belong. We cannot fully understand an animals experience because we have not livedit, therefore we cannot speak for them (Prade330). They belong in their natural habitat; it is not beneficial for animals to be kept in captivity, there are consequences of animals living lives in captivity. Sandel explains Aristotle’s telosor the purposein hisbookJustice: what’s the right thing to do?This is afascinating point because Aristotle would pose the question, what is the purpose of nonhumane animals?This question needs to beevaluatedbecauseif we do not know the purpose of nonhumane animals how can we appropriately examine their entitlements? There is more risk for the animals to get new disease due to being in environments that they are not naturally in.
An animal that originates in Africa is susceptible to a disease that is only in North America while living in a zoo because its immune system does not have the genes to defend against this disease, it has also never been around the disease so their bodies cannot build up immunity to the disease. Not only new diseases, but diseases that the species would normally be immune to in the wild, the ones in captivity have shown to get these diseases more often. Most of these immunities are built up from the diet of the animal, but because in captivity the animals do not get the same food, they do not get the same nutrition as they would in the wild, hence the cause of disease they normally would not have in the wild. Animals tend to have shorter lifespans in captivity due to the different diet that does not have the nutrition that the animals need to survive.
This is seen in giraffes where their shorter lifespan is “linked to poor nutritional status and low energy intake, suggesting inadequacies in zoodiets” (Mason, 714-721). Also, these animals are entering climates at which they are not meant to live in. Animals that live in Africa are not used to the snow that falls in North America, nor is the polar bears adapted to the heat of Florida. The endothermic animals, the ones who are able regulate their own body temperatures, their bodies are working overtime to be able to survive in the differentclimates. The zookeepers try to keep the enclosures as close to their natural habitats as they possibly can but the factremainsthat the painting on the walls of the enclosure are nothing to the real thing,one can assumethey are not meant to be looking at something that is fake when instead they could be lookingat the real thing in the wild. These seem like basic rights and entitlements that are being violated causing an injustice to animals.
Let us take dolphins as an example of why animals should not be held in captivity. Everyone wants to swim with dolphins or be a dolphin trainer, they are very intelligent creatures that everyone loves. However, they should not be taken out of the oceans. In the oceans, dolphinscanswim for miles each day, starting off at one point and by the end of the day they are in a completely different area, free to do whatever they please. But in captivity, they are limited to a concrete pool. It is our equivalent of going from freedom to a jail cell; they are basically in jail once in captivity(McGlynn, 573-96).
The documentary “The Cove”, takes place in Taiji, Japan. There, fisherman take boats and use sound to scare the dolphins into swimming into a netted cove where they are held overnight. The following day, dolphin trainers are there to choose which dolphins they want, this is where most of the captive dolphins are from. The ones that aren’t chosen are then taken to a more secluded cove that no one can get to where 23,000 dolphins a year are slaughtered for meat to sell in fish markets in Japan. Ric O’Barry, one of the most famous dolphin trainers, is now an activist who has been trying for years to stop the captivity of dolphins. He is the protagonist in the documentary trying to stop the Japanese people from taking and killing the dolphins.
He says that “hefeelsresponsible” because he was one of the first with captive dolphins with the TV series “Flipper”. In “The Cove”, O’Barry admits to taking captive the original five dolphins that played the role of dolphins, they were the first captive dolphins ever. Since then, the captivity of dolphins has become a multibillion-dollarindustry. Dolphins are not meant to be in small pools. Their greatest sense is their sense of sound, they use sound to communicate with each other but also use sound for sonar to see where things are, their sonar is much better than the sonar that humans have with machines. When dolphins were first being put in captivity in pools, they were dying quickly and they found out that the cause was that the filtration of the pools was very loud and caused stress on the dolphins that untimely killed them.
The dolphins that do the shows at marine parks are under immense stress due to screaming people and loud music. These show dolphins end up getting ulcers due to the stress. Marine parks are too loud for the dolphins’ sensitive hearing, they are not happy there where the loud noises will eventually kill them (Clark, “The Cove”). They want to be in the open oceans where they can swim for miles a day and not have to betrapped in a giant fish bowl.
The same goes for orcas, like the dolphins, they should not be in captivity. As one of the largest animals in the world, why should they be kept in a pool when in the wild they have the entire ocean?Is the purpose of a whale to be in a pool or in the ocean? Most would agree that they serve a purpose in the oceanhowever,their purpose becomes being our entertainmentonce in captivity. Whales do not volunteer to be in captivity they are forced which goes againstawhale’stelos and the capabilities approach of basic entitlements. Larger than the dolphin, they need more space to move around,butthey are still in pools, just like the dolphins, only the orca pools are slightly larger. The newly released documentary “Blackfish” investigates the deaths related to the marine park SeaWorld and one particular whale, Tilikum.
According to the film, this whale, who happens to be the largest orca whale in captivity, is connected to the deaths of three people, two who had been his trainers. Measuring to be over twenty-feet long and weighing over 12,000 pounds, Tilikum is the largest orca in captivity, he is the number one male whaleused for breeding at SeaWorld. He has been preforming for over thirty years and has shown aggression since his first kill in 1991, one of the trainers had fallen into the pool along with three orcas, one being Tilikum. Since then he has killed a man who had sneaked into his pool at SeaWorld Orlando after closing and most recently SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau. The story had made headlines after it was captured on film and occurred during alive “Dine with Shamau” show. In the film, former trainers of the orca are interviewed, explaining how no marine animal should be kept in captivity, they speak more specifically about the killer whales since that is the species they worked with most.
The animals are stressed, and when stressed, they tend to do things that are abnormal behavior wise. They talk about how in the wild there is no record of a wild orca harming any human, but for somereason it occurs in captivity. Providing context for this alarming behavior, researchers describe highly socialized, creatures used tolivingin thousands of miles of ocean andill-suitedto theme parks where they may be subjected to repeated overnight confinements in dark concrete pens. “If you were in bathtub for twenty-five years, don’t you think you’d get a little psychotic?” Jane Velez-Mitchell, a CNN anchor, wonders in a clip that’s used in the film.
Other signs of mental distress, like severe tooth and stomach problems caused the by the whales gnawing on their enclosures, are described,(Catsoulis). The whales are not used to such small spaces compared to the thousands of miles of the oceans. They circle around the small tanks all day, that sometimes contain more than one whale, with very minimal space to move around in until their show time where maybe for a little over an hour they are in the larger pool with the ability to swim more but still are not free to do as they please, theymustdo their show. The whales are not only having problems with their teeth andstomachs, but also are not having the same long lifespan that they would in the wild. A wild orca can live up to eighty-years-old where as in captivity they are only living about fifty to sixty-years-old.
This is problematic because they are unable to live a flourishing and dignified lives when in captivity since their life spans are being shortened. When you go see the killer whales at SeaWorld, you will notice that a lot of theirDoralfins are bent over, the tour guides at SeaWorld will tell you that it is very common even in the wild, but that is false, only a small percentage of wild orcas will have this where most orcas in captivity have bent over dorsal fins. In a clip used in “Blackfish”, an interview given by former SeaWorld killer whale trainer Samantha Berg, gave a good idea that the marine animals that are young enough should be released into the wild to live out their lives free in the oceans, and the older animals who wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild should be in an open ocean area where they can at least experience the ocean living out the rest of their days. However, unlike the dolphins and orcas, there are several species that thrive in captivity.
For example, the ring-tailed lemur, the gray seal, along with several species of exotic birds, each of these species tend to be perfectly capable of living in captivity. These species do not show any signs of disease, no stress induced deaths, as well as low troubles with reproduction in captivity. They live in captivity just as they would in the wild, some living without having to deal with predators to worry about. They no longer have to worry about food because the humans who care for them provide it for them. Animals should not be held in captivity. It is unnatural and as Adam Roberts said, we are not getting any education from watching these wild animals in zoos.
At azoo,they are in a small enclosure that is nothing like their natural habitat. In theseenclosures,you do not see the animalskill for food or search for it. What you do see is animals sit there, walk around some, or you see them sleep. It is nothing like what theanimals would do in the wild.
When going to the zoo to see a cheetah, you expect to see the big cat in action, running as fast as you hear it can. But in a zoo, there is no room to run, no reason to use its speed. So instead, you watch the cheetah walk around, find a spot in the sun where it can take a nap. What do you learn about the cheetah from that experience? You don’t learn that it is one of the fastest animals on the planet, nor that no two cheetahs lookthe same, that each of their spot patterns are unique to them like fingerprints on humans. When going to the zoo to learn about grizzly bears, you are unable to see the way they catch salmon out of the stream, you see the bear eat its fishoutof bowl. You do not get to see a pride of lions attack a gazelle in the safari, you see a pride sitting together, not doing much.
To look at the bigger picture, what is the telos of a zoo? The claims arethat the purpose of zoos is to educate but at what expense of the animals lives. Going to an aquarium or marine park doesn’t teach you much either. When going to SeaWorld, you see the dolphin and whale shows. You watch the animals jump into the air and do tricks in the pools.
But you don’t learn how the dolphins use their super sensitive hearing or their sonar-like ability. Nor do you learn how killer whales kill seals in the wild by finding them on ice in the artic or killing those in the shallows on beaches while the seals learn to swim. So why are these animals in captivity? For our education, they say, so we learn about them so we can save them. By watching these animals in captivity, we learn nothing.
We get to look at them, that is all. By going to see them in captivity we learn that they should not be there in the first place. There is a great disservice being done to nonhumane animals since their basic entitlements are not being met. There is a vast injustice when nonhuman animals are not being treated with dignity or given the opportunity for a flourishing life.
We do need to account for animals incaptivity that thrive because they were rescued or are going extinct. However, that does not mean we should keep animals in captivity for the entertainment of the public. If the telos of a nonhuman animal is to live a fully dignified andflourishinglife then keeping them in captivity for entertainment would violate those entitlements. Theyare not meant to have as much human contact as they due andthereforewe see some attacking humans. Animals should be kept out of captivity and leftto live in their natural habitats.
There are other ways to bring awareness and to conserve their habitats without putting the animals in captivity. We would think it is wrong and that we shouldn’t be in the cell, but if we think this than why do we do the same to the animals?References Catsoulis, Jeanette. “Do Six-Ton Captives Dream of Freedom?”The New York Times. The NewYork Times, 18 July 2013″Conservation.
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