Are Zoos Captive?

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700 million people across the world visit zoos annually and over 10,000 zoos exist worldwide (The World Zoo Conservation Strategy). Wildlife parks and aquariums generate $5,136,250,000 each year in the United States alone. Millions of animals are held captive and live very different lives from their ancestors. The history of zoos shows that thousands of years ago, monarchs held animal’s captive to show power and wealth (Encyclopedic Entry: Zoos). During the first century, American Zoos took exotic animals from the wild and used them originally for entertainment value with some wildlife education. Today, it can be argued that animals are used for amusement and profit. It can also be argued that zoos educate the public and protect animals. In…show more content…
Opponents believe zoos claim to provide education, but in reality only provide entertainment. Another common belief by opponents is that zoos are not heroic and do not save endangered species. In particular, SeaWorld has recently been highly criticized in the media for their treatment of killer whales. The whales are kept in pools for the duration of their lives, which is equivalent to a human spending the rest of their life in a hot tub. Clear evidence can be drawn by looking at the variations in lifespan between wild orcas and captive orcas. On average, orcas in captivity live for 10 years, whereas orcas in the wild are known to live on average of 60 to 70 years for males and 80-90 years for females (Chase Dekker). The reduced lifespan can be attributed to many different factors. One factor being that the orcas are separated from their pod and taken away from the ocean at an early age. Orcas have a very tight strung family dynamic due to the fact that they hunt, travel, and communicate with each other in the wild. Every pod has their own unique dialogue and behavior. Zoos like SeaWorld and many other aquatic parks combine orcas from multiple different pods into one tank and expect them to get along. Tension and anxiety builds between the animals in the close quarters of the pool, often resulting in fights, and more often than not, death. One whale in particular exemplifies how the confinement has affected him. Tilikum, currently residing at SeaWorld in Orlando, weighs 12,500 pounds and is 22 feet long. He was captured from Iceland at only two years old and forced to perform at SeaLand in Canada eight times a day, every day of the week. He was placed in a tank with two other aggressive female orcas that frequently attacked him. His stress and anger built due to his lack of freedom. In 1991 a trainer fell into Tilikums pool. Tilikum dragged her to the bottom of the tank and drowned

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