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Discussion Starter #1
I've had misgivings about our 'use' of animals for some time. Recent visits by other members of my family to Longleat and myself with daughter to Marwell today, plus the raising of the subject of morals in another thread, has prompted me to open this thread.

First I should say I'm not really considering the matter of livestock (farming) - this is specifically about the keeping of wild animals in captivity.

The excuse often given for this is 'conservation', which in the case of Marwell may be valid - it is a Zoo. But I'm not sure Longleat is anything more than an entertainment - closer to circus than zoo perhaps.
In either case I have doubts about the ethics of keeping these animals in a restricted environment and in many cases an unnatural climate, such as Snow Leopards in Hampshire. The conservation card is played frequently and as some sort of trump ... but, as I said above, I have misgivings.

Rather than ramble on in more detail and length now, I'd be interested to hear anyone else's thoughts on this. And in case you are wondering, current EV owners (or potential ones) are probably more 'environmentally aware' than the average Joe, so I think this is quite a good place to start this conversation. (Hopefully it'll be less antagonistic than Brexit anyway.)
 

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Good post and a serious topic. I am also very much like you.

Many years ago I visited I think it was Whipsnade zoo (is that spelling right?) and they had this seal in a swimming pool. It jumped in the water one end, slipped through the water like a guided torpedo, and popped up the other side within a half second, jumped (flew) out, then turned around and went back again. Repeat. It was so short he didn't even get a chance to flap his flippers, or whatever it is that propels them. I watched him for a few minutes and I actually started crying. Not very happy about it now either, TBH, just writing about it. I got the impression he'd actually gone mad, but that might just be my anthropomorphism seeing things?

I've hated zoos ever since, especially aquatic ones, and 'marine centres'.

I was somewhat persuaded when I visited Twycross zoo, who do an after hours session for disabled kids once a year, which is nice for them (and my son) and it seems a number of those rare primates simply would be extinct if not housed there, and elsewhere likewise. Difficult to argue with that. But I was not so keen on the chimpanzee house they have built. Shit, that place was actually scary! Those guys were sitting on baskets on walls staring at you as you went by like prisoners in a maximum security jail. No other animals in the zoo had signs indicating how dangerous they were, and there are two sets of walls with electrified fences on around the chimp house, and a deep ditched moat between them. What are we doing keeping animals like that? Serious misgivings about it all when we can now see animals in UHD images to, all intent and purpose, better than seeing them live.

Sure I can see there is a logic for extremely rare animals if they are tolerant to captivity. But if they are just longing to escape, even then I would hesitate.
 

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... current EV owners (or potential ones) are probably more 'environmentally aware'...
Did you see my post, Electric industry's huge global warming impact?

Smaller animals are less likely to attract the same attention, and I fully appreciate that the example below might not have been on your radar. I am aware that people do protest with similar concerns, in private aquatic stores and pet shops, about the treatment of wild fish in captivity.

Against:
  • Wild fish are harder to breed in captivity; evidence of environmental stress
  • Wild fish are more likely to jump out of their tanks; evidence of environmental stress
  • Wild fish in captivity have a lower maximum age; evidence of environmental stress
For:
  • Healthcare for all fish is relatively advanced in an aquarium
  • Captive bred specimens differ, are preconditioned to artificial conditions, and often unsuitable for release
  • Access to and control of other species reduces human stress and improves human education
Notes: Water quality in controlled environments is less stable than in natural environments, mostly because the artificial body of water is small, and pollution is the main trigger for disease or cause of death.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
But I was not so keen on the chimpanzee house they have built.
Indeed. I can't see any excuse for keeping non-endangered animals in captivity. At Marwell the Meerkat keeper (at the feeding time talk) stated quite boldly that they were very capable creatures in no danger of dying out - so their presence there is purely for the entertainment of the public (and thus to attract their money).

I was somewhat persuaded when I visited Twycross zoo, who do an after hours session for disabled kids once a year, which is nice for them (and my son) and it seems a number of those rare primates simply would be extinct if not housed there, and elsewhere likewise. Difficult to argue with that.
That's one of my concerns. People use emotive terms such as "the kids can learn" and "they'd be extinct if we didn't keep them here" to justify zoos, but I'm not sure that's a good thing. Should live, wild, animals be used as a teaching resource?

And on the conservation side I'm beginning to think that extinction may be a better option.
For example rhinos - Are they crucial to their wild habitats? Would it matter (outside of western sensibilities) if they disappeared? If not then perhaps rather than condemning the few that remain to lives in prison we should let them go.
Tigers likewise. They are increasingly in conflict with expanding human populations, so perhaps their time is over.
(Obviously the Chinese will be upset about those two because they'll loose their sources of pseudo-medicine; but perhaps they should have planned ahead a bit more.)

My point is that 'we' are causing these changes, and they seem to be pretty much irreversible, in practice if not in theory, so we should perhaps be graceful and let these creatures have a final fling that is not just some entertainment.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yes I did. But it's not relevant to this subject.

Smaller animals are less likely to attract the same attention, and I fully appreciate that the example below might not have been on your radar. I am aware that people do protest with similar concerns, in private aquatic stores and pet shops, about the treatment of wild fish in captivity.
No, they are on my radar in so far as most zoos have aquaria. My concern is with all captive wild animals, not just the headline ones.

In principle I am against any sort of aquaria, but acknowledge there is a bit of grey as many of these fish are not really wild. Even the humble goldfish is a bred species. This will lead to a tricky line because you end up at dogs ... should they be kept captive, etc, which is another place altogether. I'm specifically interested in the case for keeping truly wild animals, or fish, in constrained and unnatural enclosures.

I love to see Cheetahs, sharks, etc, in the flesh but I also feel sad because they are 'just mooching' there. For me, my 'pleasure' is not sufficient reason to keep them like that.

I suppose it comes back to another bugbear of mine which is charity sponsorship, etc. Zoos say "Give us your money and we'll show you [this]" and people, prompted by organisations, say "Give our charity your money and I'll do [this entertaining thing]", such as jump out of an aeroplane (and bill the NHS for the damage) or play a comedy sketch on TV.
We are becoming a nation who only give to 'worthy' causes because they entertain us. That seems wrong and I don't play that game. (I have a selection of causes I subscribe to by DD or STO on a monthly or annual basis - no strings attached.)
 

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Should live, wild, animals be used as a teaching resource?
As virtualisation also serves to educate, it would be helpful if animations were labeled with comparable realism scores.

Where do you draw the line between domestic pets and captive wild animals? Is the humble hamster not wild? Are humans wild or domesticated? 😳
 

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Discussion Starter #7
As virtualisation also serves to educate, it would be helpful if animations were labeled with comparable realism scores.
I think I understand that ... but I'm not sure :unsure:
Sounds like a good idea and sort of follows on from the pressure for the likes of the BBC to declare 'creative' footage in their programmes. Is that your line of thought?

Where do you draw the line between domestic pets and captive wild animals? Is the humble hamster not wild? Are humans wild or domesticated? 😳
I can't draw a line - it's a pretty wide grey area. There are animals that are clearly wild, even if kept as pets by some idiots. There are others that are clearly domesticated such as dogs or typical UK sheep.
Most of the animals in zoos and the like are firmly in the wild category and those are my particular concern.
As long as they are treated humanely (and sadly that is usually a long way from humanly) I'm not too concerned about domesticated animals since they probably wouldn't survive in the wild anyway.
The grey area ones, like your hamsters? I'd prefer to see them left wild, but that is probably another battle for another day.
 

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... pressure for the likes of the BBC to declare 'creative' footage in their programmes. Is that your line of thought?
Certainly part of the same conversation. I was thinking VR (e.g. video games) that may feature realism. If you try to learn by looking at an online 3D model of an EV, is it more/less educational than looking through a shop window at the real thing?

You didn't say if humans are wild or domesticated ;)
 

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My point is that 'we' are causing these changes
Not always.

Species have become extinct before humans arrived, y'know?

I think it is more nuanced than that, and in some cases species are so rare we are still 'discovering' them, Of course, there are also examples of species whose habitat has been so severely compromised by human expansion that it is clearly an example of your point.

I think there is something to be said for children confronting real wild animals to comprehend that they are not just pictures in a book/on telly. I don't think it takes a whole zoo full of common animals in no risk of extinction, but I think the ones that are a point of scientific investigation are sufficient to serve that particular point. I don't think it serves anyone to let animals become extinct when they could be preserved.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
You didn't say if humans are wild or domesticated ;)
For the purposes of this discussion I 'd say the majority are domestic rather than wild. That's not to say that a good number of them behave appallingly of course :mad:
There are still a few places/tribes who are largely untouched by the modern world, so I suppose could be called wild.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Species have become extinct before humans arrived, y'know?
Indeed. I was referring particularly to the current crop of endangered species which are for the most part due to some form of human activity. There is of course a background level of extinctions as well, though probably hard to see these days (until another ELE comes along), but I think it is our involvement that pricks our consciences and makes us feel we should preserve these species at all costs.
In that process our desires tend to overwhelm any consideration for the animals themselves. We are basically a selfish species (like most), or as Dawkins puts it, a selfish gene.
And to me this:
I think there is something to be said for children confronting real wild animals
is an example. Are we putting children's education (?) above animal rights?
Are they (the children, not the animals) being told about the issues of zoos? I'm not au fait with the modern curriculum I'm afraid.
 

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Are we putting children's education (?) above animal rights?
Are they (the children, not the animals) being told about the issues of zoos? I'm not au fait with the modern curriculum I'm afraid.
I think you have managed to reverse the meaning of what I said there by underquoting me.
I don't think it takes a whole zoo full of common animals in no risk of extinction, but I think the ones that are a point of scientific investigation are sufficient to serve that particular point.
I am saying I think probably an argument for the education of children would be adequately served by zoological samples of the endangered or practically extinct species only, which I do think there is a justified scientific reason for, if not ethical.

I agree it is a balanced ethical position and your own POV might swing that one way or the other but on the scientific line of argument, studying what affects these animals who are, evidently, the 'most' sensitive to environmental changes may help us learn the key drivers that cause extinction at the fringes and thus look to avoid that in particular.

Bear in mind we have just come through 50,000 years of glaciation and there will be species that will have been driven extinct during that time, and others taken to that point that just a little nudge more by us is a final killer factor.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I think you have managed to reverse the meaning of what I said there by underquoting me.
I am saying I think probably an argument for the education of children would be adequately served by zoological samples of the endangered or practically extinct species only, which I do think there is a justified scientific reason for, if not ethical.
Sorry if that's what has happened. I think we agree that there is little reason to keep plentiful animals captive.

I'm doubtful about the 'research' aspect though. (The Japanese research whales in a somewhat interesting manner.)
Where animals are being extinguished due to factors in their natural habitats, is keeping them in a zoo enclosure thousands of miles from that habitat really going to allow valid scientific to be done on the causes? Of course that's ignoring that in many cases it's blindingly obvious what the problem is and research is pretty pointless - effective action is needed.

Bear in mind we have just come through 50,000 years of glaciation and there will be species that will have been driven extinct during that time, and others taken to that point that just a little nudge more by us is a final killer factor.
I agree. We should certainly try to understand these mechanisms, but I don't think we should necessarily interfere with them by trying to 'store' live samples.
 

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Sorry if that's what has happened. I think we agree that there is little reason to keep plentiful animals captive.
Sure.

I'm doubtful about the 'research' aspect though. (The Japanese research whales in a somewhat interesting manner.)
I totally understand your reticence/misquiet about 'research' objectives (and Japanese whaling is sick).

However....

.... I don't think we should necessarily interfere with them by trying to 'store' live samples.
Yeah, well, we have now had zoos of endangered animals for long enough that some of them really have gone extinct in the wild, as far as we know.

What would you do? You have been given responsibility to close down a zoological research facility, that had also been a zoo to the public but have now stopped that, and you have to figure out to something with all the exhibits and you have a population of some species that is extinct in the wild. What would you do next? Do you argue the case to keep those particular species or release them back in the wild where there are none of their own kind only to die out, or what?

I agree there is a problem here. Not sure it is black and white in some cases.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Not sure it is black and white in some cases
Not even slightly. It's a huge grey area and I'm just publishing my current feelings on it in the hope that perhaps others would start to think about where we are going.

What would you do? You have been given responsibility to close down a zoological research facility, that had also been a zoo to the public but have now stopped that, and you have to figure out to something with all the exhibits
It would have to be on a case by case basis, but in general I expect that individuals raised to be in zoos will not be suitable for release into the wild. (Animals bred in captivity with the intention of wild release are generally treated specially - for example with minimal human contact or exposure.)
As such I would probably just keep them in captivity, there or at another zoo, until they die naturally.
 

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Are they (the children, not the animals) being told about the issues of zoos?
If we did that, would we be making our children cynical from a young age?

mikegs said:
There are still a few places/tribes who are largely untouched by the modern world, so I suppose could be called wild.
Indigenous peoples are arguably very civilised; many groups evade conflict and care for their visitors. In contrast, actually feral behaviours are commonly found in city gangs worldwide.

I use people, as a substitute for anthropomorphism, because the latter might be dismissed whereas the former is very likely to question sensibilities..

donald said:
I think probably an argument for the education of children would be adequately served by zoological samples of the endangered or practically extinct species only
There are endangered and practically extinct tribal peoples. Why is it more acceptable to preserve various animals that lack self-awareness, than it is to preserve variants of fellow human beings?
 

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There are endangered and practically extinct tribal peoples. Why is it more acceptable to preserve various animals that lack self-awareness, than it is to preserve variants of fellow human beings?
Because legal articles on human rights do not preclude it.

But if there was a particular group of humans whose habitat had been destroyed and they were going to die for lack of a suitable habitat, then, yes, I would offer them an alternative, which may not be ideal but may keep them safe.
 

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Because legal articles on human rights do not preclude it.

But if there was a particular group of humans whose habitat had been destroyed and they were going to die for lack of a suitable habitat, then, yes, I would offer them an alternative, which may not be ideal but may keep them safe.
There are groups considered "genetically extinct" and/or "culturally extinct". There are groups being wiped out by nation states. I can testify that some have wisdom that will probably never be captured by western academics.
Their world views differ to those of western academics because the views of all humans are shaped by the environments they know. Some elders I have met are wise enough to fear that bringing them to our world from theirs would change the fabric of who they are.

Could the same be said for Orangoutangs and Elephants?
 

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There are groups considered "genetically extinct" and/or "culturally extinct". There are groups being wiped out by nation states. I can testify that some have wisdom that will probably never be captured by western academics.
Their world views differ to those of western academics because the views of all humans are shaped by the environments they know. Some elders I have met are wise enough to fear that bringing them to our world from theirs would change the fabric of who they are.

Could the same be said for Orangoutangs and Elephants?
Reminds me of a book I once read called "Blackfoot Physics", decades since I read it and not sure where it has gone, but my recollection was of a very interesting book about how Native Americans see the world. It is mind expanding to recognise there are different ways of thinking and I have used that learning to remain open minded at all times to things which might initially appear contradictory to my own expectations, but more importantly agree with it too well! It is also probably why I am the contrarian, because I realise that unless a given topic is explored then two people with the same basic view of the world are likely to come to the same conclusion, thus common conclusions need to be tested.

I think you will like it, find a copy for a read.

Does moving animals out of their native environment change them? I think that is obviously yes. But perhaps they can be re-introduced later and they can find themselves again. Seems better than just letting them die out.

A bit like this really (I just did a quick search for "extinct in the wild released" and there were dozens of such stories). I think this is justification, because this does happen;-




etc...
 
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