If you watch CBS 60 Minutes you probably caught the story about Damian Aspinall, the millionaire who owned a zoo. Aspinall’s 500-acre park is located in Kent, England and was founded by his father. Once the zoo was put under his care, he used it to save endangered species and has done so for over 130 lowland gorillas, 30 black rhinos, 180 tigers and 140 clouded-leopards.
The millionaire is at home with his animals and according to the story, he is known to roll around with his tigers and gorillas. He has, however, decided that all of the animals that were born on the property should be given their freedom and returned to their natural environment. In fact, his vision is to eradicate all zoos everywhere.
To that end, he set out to send a silverback gorilla family back to Africa, their homeland – although the family was born on his reserve. Most animal rights and animal pundits, such as Tara Stoinski, president – Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, warned against making this move sensing the gorillas would not be able to protect themselves in the wild.
Aspinall did not listen and continued with his plan without wavering. So much for aborting the mission – at last report only four out of the ten gorillas survived being placed into the wild.
Animal rights are becoming more and more mainstream, and rightfully so, as the inhumanity that is directed toward animals is unconscionable. The basic idea of animal rights, according to is that “non-human animals are entitled to the possession of their own lives and that their most basic interests – such as the lack of suffering – should be afforded the same consideration as similar interests of human beings.”
The zoos we are about to present will demonstrate the opposite of this philosophy. The reasons for poor zoo-keeping seem to come down to lack of space, budget, under-staffing and misappropriation of funding. So then, we have to wonder why these zoos are allowed to remain open and why people keep visiting them. Take a peek at some of the world’s most inhumane zoos according to globalpost.com and various sources and let us hear from you. What are your thoughts about zoos and animal rights? Every person can make a difference.
10. Surabaya Zoo, Indonesia
According to a story in telegraph.co.uk, the Surabaya Zoo is the largest zoo in Indonesia and is known to be the most inhumane. The last giraffe that died at this zoo was found with 44 pounds of plastic food wrappers in his stomach. One-hundred-and-eighty pelicans are forced to live beak-to-beak in a small pen. There are suspiciously ill animals that are quarantined. Currently, Change.org has been trying to get the zoo, that was named the Zoo of Death by the Jakarta Post, closed down.
9. Mumbai Zoo, India
The Mumbai Zoo is known for providing very cramped and dirty living spaces for its animals, which has been reported to be the primary cause of death for these animals. However, here is where we have the biggest double-take… the zoo takes its dead animals to the local taxidermist to be stuffed and added to the dead animal collection. Currently, the zoo’s position, as spoken by its director Sanjay Tripathi in a 2010 BBC interview, is that, “the public will be able to see and appreciate the animals and even study their body structure.” Seriously?
8. Giza Zoo, Egypt
The Washington Post delivered news of the Giza Zoo in Cairo as having “suspicious animal deaths”. A three-year old giraffe died by getting tangled in a wire, three black bears died in one night and in 2007-2008 it was reported that the camels were being killed for their meat by the zookeepers. Consequently, there have been protests from the students attending the nearby Cairo University, which were met with tear gas by the local police – all the while the unsuspecting animals were being affected by the gun fire and tear gas.
7. Kiev Zoo, Ukraine
Another zoo that has record numbers of dying animals is the Kiev Zoo, according to a Fox News report. The zoo is considered to be beyond filthy and the animals are dying due to malnutrition and lack of medical attention. Evidently, with the collapse of the Soviet Union came years of financial woes, thus causing the slow demise of this zoo. Through the years, the zoo has been caught misappropriating funds meant to take care of and feed the animals. British-based Naturewatch (among others) have been working to have this zoo closed over the last four-five years, but so far they have not been successful.
6. San Antonio Zoo, U.S.
In a breaking story by Fox News San Antonio, the San Antonio Zoo is being investigated for violating the Endangered Species Act because of the treatment of Lucky, the elephant, who is living in deplorable conditions and in solitary confinement. Her pen mate for life died about four years ago and she has been alone since.
To understand the cruelty involved, it must be understood that elephants mate for life and require interaction with their species. This is not the first time this zoo has been under scrutiny for violating zoological operations. Melissa Lesniak, animal attorney was quoted as saying, “You can judge a community based on the way they treat their animals.” Lesniak represents One World Conservation, whose goal is to have Lucky freed from this zoo.
5. Gelkand Park, Iraqi Kurdistan
This zoo has finally been closed, as it was considered one of the world’s most inhumane. Small, dirty cages that were not safe for the animals or the visitors were finally shut down thanks to severe pressure from animal rights organizations and activists. The zoo has been closed for about a year and in the meantime a larger version was built and opened last year. “The new zoo is very suitable for animals because it is quite spacious. The animals that have been living in bad conditions in Gelkand Park will be all transformed into this new Zoo Park,” said Nazar Omer, director of Erbil Parks. Crossing fingers that history doesn’t repeat itself.
4. Shenyang Forest Wild Animal Zoo, China
The Shenyang Zoo has been under scrutiny for many years and, in fact, has had a poor reputation since the scandals of 2009-2010. According to chinadaily.com, 11 Siberian tigers were starved to death. Luckily, some of the staff reported the travesty and animal rights activists flew into action. The tigers were reported as having been fed only chicken bones in small quantities for two years until they died of heart, kidney and lung failure. Additionally, their cages were small, dirty and did not protect the animals from the extremely cold weather. This poor reputation has followed them as things have not improved, according to anonymous staff members.
3. Oradea Zoo, Romania
This Oradea Zoo in Romania has animals living in squalor, according to a report in the Daily Mail. The conditions were so bad that the lives of 13 lions were in severe danger. Their story became so publicized that $219,629 in contributions came from all over the world to have them moved to a safer home. Most of the lions were able to regain their health once moved, except for three. Sadly one lion was attacked by lionesses in his new British home and did not survive.
Reports claim that the Oradea Zoo’s conditions have ‘improved’ since the plight of the lions, however it is understandably difficult to trust this is true.
2. Dhaka Zoo, Bangladesh
The Dhaka Zoo in Bangladesh was suspended and under investigation in 2009 due to the large amount of animal deaths that had taken place. Twenty animals died from inhumane conditions and negligence, according to the thedailystar.com. A zoo official who requested his name be withheld was quoted as saying, “The slum dwellers disturb and scare the animals a lot. For the safety and security of the animals the slum needs to be removed. The slum people are living just behind the zoo wall.” Others say that even though the zoo has about 10,000 visitors each day, it does not have the budget to provide the proper space and medical attention to board the 57 species properly. So budget, space, medical and slums all seem to contribute to this zoo’s inhumanity. But yet the zoo is still open?
1. Pyongyang Central Zoo, North Korea
The zoo that now includes Yorkshire Terriers is said to be one of the worst in the world. In 2006, the Asia Times reported how the Pyongyang Zoo mistreats its animals. The zoo is said to be keeping endangered species that are not captive anywhere else in the world. It was the “wildlife” documentary “Fighting Animals” that made the outside world aware that the featured animals were actually caged animals from the zoo. The animals live in cages that are not fit for man or animal; the cold and cramped environment leave the animals unhappy and depressed. It is not likely the three Yorkies, who have been trained to perform circus tricks, are going to have long and prosperous lives in this habitat.
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