Monday, 27 May, 2024
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OPINION

Zoo Or Jail?



Bini Dahal

The Central Zoo at Jawalakhel of Lalitpur district gets very crowded on Saturdays and other public holidays. Parents take their children to show animals so that the latter can learn about them.
Scientists and conservationists are another lot to visit the zoo frequently. They carry out intensive studies and researches on those animals.
Other than this, is there any other reason to visit the zoo? Is zoo needed or not?
I clearly remember my days from Grade 2 up until Grade 6. We were always taken to the zoo for picnic. The whole idea of animals being kept in cages was very fascinating and for weeks visit to the zoo would stay afresh in my mind. And now just a week ago, after six years, when I returned to the same place, I was not so happy.
I felt uncomfortable looking at those animals. I tried putting myself in their place and it was unimaginable. The animals are being forced to stay captive between the high fences and their sense of freedom is gone for good. So, can we consider this a good step for conservation? They have been removed from their natural habitat and relocated to a place which does not completely resemble the place where they used to live. A perfect example of all of this is Spotted Deer or Chital found in the Central Zoo. An information board outside the animal’s cage clearly states that Chital enjoys feeding on grasses, shoots, fruits and other agricultural crops and likes staying beside sources of water. But in the cage, the scenario is different. Not even a single piece of grass is available there. And the only water source is piped water. The zoo keepers there feed the grass and it is all scheduled. So, don’t they feel hungry at other times?
Mostly, animals are kept in the zoo for breeding, i.e. producing the species for the future and giving continuity to the generation. But these animals, which are born and brought into the zoo, once left in the wild become unable to face the challenges there. According to an article written on One Green Planet, captive-bred animals, which are brought back to the wild, try to find their own kind rather than a wild animal. This can create a situation in which the species will go extinct. And mind you species extinction is the very issue that most of the zoos are trying to solve through captive-breeding programme!
Critics of zoos do not consider it to be a natural environment. According to them, it does not really protect the animals, rather it may cause the spread of various diseases between two very different species. And it does not limit to only this. The same disease may spread among human beings, too.
All of the points above explain the negative impact that zoo can have on the animals and birds confined there. But it does not mean that zoos are not proper for animals. Any zoo around the world should not be a jail for the animals, rather it should try to become a second home for the numerous animals and birds. Zoos should help provide a safe environment for animals that have been mistreated in circuses.
Likewise, zoos also have the responsibility of researching on the various animals and find cure to any disease or illness that they may be suffering from. Animals and human beings are interconnected. Harming animals means jeopardizing the presence of humans in the world. We need to conserve and protect the animals to maintain a balance in the nature.