Oh yeah. I sent this in to my local paper who was soliciting “Veiwpoint” pieces on the local zoo [*I’ve had one other piece in the Viewpoints section*]. I know I don’t have the most popular ‘opinion’ on this, but I gave it a shot. The topic was whether taxpayers should continue to fund the Utica Zoo. My response didn’t make it:
Since the Zoo has been struggling for so long to make ends meet, we have to keep in mind the quality of life for the animals. Zoos, and this one in particular, are an unfortunate byproduct of antiquated values about wildlife and conservation education. They are exploitative of animals and an insult to sensible humanity.
Rather than enable the mismanagement of this facility to continue, the Zoological Society should focus on making a plan to ethically shut down the facility as the animals come to the end of their natural lives. The Zoo could also focus on creating better conservation education programs like wildlife rehabilitation and release. A transition to this kind of education which does not use live animals in unnatural environments would be ideal. That way, kids and people learn respect for nature without the exploitation.
To people who say that zoos are fun because kids get to see live animals, I argue that conservation education can be even more fun; conservation programs would be constructive and encourage more critical and abstract thinking, without the passive activity of viewing caged animals.
I realize it is not popular opinion that zoos are exploitative, but they are. Slavery was thought normal until many people stood up and said it was wrong. It would be great if the Zoological Society took a stand on this issue and were really advocates for animals instead of perpetuating this self-interested drain on local economy.