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Zoos Are Prisons by Valery Sifuentes 8th Grade

Many people aren’t aware of the cruelty and long term effects animals develop because of zoos. Since captive animals are deprived of all things natural to them, they usually develop “zoochosis”. Animals with zoochosis exhibit very unnatural behavior such as pacing, walking in circles, head bobbing, swaying, self mutilation, and many more. I have witnessed animals with symptoms such as the ones listed above, starting with Billy the elephant located in our LA Zoo and the pandas at the San Diego Zoo. I always watched in joy as Billy did his “elephant dance” but I now know why he was bobbing his head repeatedly. He was isolated from other elephants, frustrated, stressed, and most likely had depression. His enclosure like many other elephant enclosures do not provide them with the amount of space they need. The pandas at the San Diego Zoo were separated into 2 tiny enclosures. I watched woefully as the youngest panda walked in circles along the walls of his enclosure time after time. Many might contradict that zoos help save endangered species. Although confining animals in zoos might keep them alive, it does nothing to protect the wild populations and their habitat. A 2015 study concludes that “Unless animals in the wild are protected, captive breeding won’t make a difference.” Dr. Paul Dolman sums up that “Without conservation in the wild, there is no point in captive breeding.” This is because captive bred animals are not being bred with the intent of saving a species but with the intent of making profits out of the adorable outcome. It is often that a cub is sold off to perform in circuses for the rest of their lives. Once these babies eventually grow up and lose their charm, they are traded off, slaughtered, or etc. Humans can not provide all the needs and space for animals. They are not ours to keep in enclosures to take pictures of, sell, and risk their emotional well being. I recommend observing animals through documentaries or even in the wild where they are better off in their natural habitat.