captivity of animals

youtube

Meet Alawa, the laziest howler ever known

Watch an even worse example here

anonymous asked:

Zoos and Aquariums do more to protect species in the wild than any other program, and once a wild habitat is gone it's GONE. Captivity is often their only hope until we can rehabilitate them somewhere. Why do so many people who call themselves vegan have zero understanding of how any of this works? : /

Hi, alumni from the Conservation Biology and Ecology program at Arizona State University here. Let me break it down for you from an evidence-based perspective, since my being vegan leads you to believe I’m just talking out of my ass or something.

In not one of my classes was it ever stated that zoos are fundamental to wildlife conservation. In fact, my biology conservation professor said captivity in zoos is very antithetical to the physical and mental health of large land mammals, especially elephants and big cats.

Animals, especially far-roaming species, exhibit stereotypical behavior in order to cope with their cramped, unnatural living conditions (i.e. bar biting, circling, pacing).

Rehabilitation programs only work when endangered species have an environment to return to (in many cases, they do not), and the most successful programs I have seen are in closed facilities - not zoos open to the public.

Human beings are causing the sixth mass extinction event, and zoos are not going to help stop global warming, deforestation, ocean acidification, or poaching. Zoos aren’t even a temporary stop-gap solution. It’s a feel-good option for people who want to stare at wild animals in an artificial environment.

Unlike wildlife sanctuaries, which put the animals’ welfare first and foremost, zoos place a large amount of importance on giftshop and ticket sales, and that prioritizes species that are easily identifiable to the public - not animals who are the most threatened.

Captive-breeding in zoos will only go so far, and it is estimated that relying on captive-bred animals only (and not capturing more from the wild) will only allow 100-years of breeding before the species becomes so inbred they are no longer genetically viable.

Zoos have been known to kill “surplus” animals.

The vast majority of zoos DO NOT release animals back into the wild.

Sometimes zoos sell “surplus” animals to circuses, canned hunting facilities, or the exotic pet trade.

Chances are, many of you have seen Blackfish and boycott SeaWorld. While that is admirable, zoos are simply an extension of the captive animal entertainment industry. Some zoos even make their animals perform tricks to the detriment of the animals.

Do Zoos Really Teach Visitors Anything?

Zoos teach young children, as well as adults, that it is acceptable to keep animals in cages and pens for the rest of their lives, rather than live in their natural habitats.

Zoos are inherently cruel because profits come first, and animals cannot consent to captivity.

The fact of the matter is, you don’t need a BS in Conservation Biology to understand how placing wild animals in pens for us to pay money to look at sounds dubious and suspect. We need to use our critical thinking skills and stop being dogmatically worshipful of these institutions that profit from the captivity of sentient, living beings.

Foraging time budgets: obligatory in for survival the wild, but why enrichment is critical in captive management situations.

One of the things worth noting, as I’m watching the second episode of BBC’s Wild Alaska (Summer) is simply how much time some of the animals spend foraging. The episode opens with grizzly bears foraging for clams on the beach while waiting for better prey to arrive - and a full sized female, it says, needs to find a couple of hundred clams a day. If it takes a minute or two to dig out each clam, get it out of the shell, eat it  and then find the next one - let’s say a total of 3 minutes per clam as a rough estimate - and say a female needs 200 clams a day, you’re looking at least 600 minutes a day (10 hours) spent doing nothing but foraging! That’s a huge amount of effort and time invested just to break even on caloric expenditure. 

I want to point this out because when we’re thinking about animals in captivity, this is why enrichment becomes so important - a bear in a zoo doesn’t have to spend half of the day foraging just to try to get enough food because we provide it all for them, but that means that suddenly they’ve got a huge amount of time “left over” in their activity budget compared to a wild bear. Enrichment and unique feeding strategies help encourage natural foraging behavior and keep animals occupied and engaged for much longer than just feeding them out of a bowl every morning. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that enrichment doesn’t need to and probably shouldn’t try to make up for a whole day’s worth of behavior. Animals are opportunistic, and even in the wild will happily scale back their activity level when resources are plentiful. If a wild bear has a field day and can get away with only foraging for clams, say, eight hours a day, they’re not going to continue being active for the extra two - there’s no point in expending the extra energy. This is something that, for captive animals, often looks to guests like the animals “have nothing to do” when in reality it’s more of a luxury than they’d ever be afforded in the wild. The trick for a good enrichment protocol, then, is to find a balance of keeping the animals occupied and engaged and fulfilled without trying to replicate the natural cycle of constantly obligatory caloric intake. 

4

Howling: A How-To featuring Storm

youtube

Toothy wolf kisses from Nikai

anonymous asked:

did you seriously just say we should let pandas go extinct to save other animals or am i misinterpreting because that is a very questionable judgement

ALRIGHT MY FRIEND I have received about six messages in this vein since yesterday, but I worked for thirteen hours today and I have no time for this nonsense. Short answer: YES. 

I’m gonna summarize some salient points on why pandas are awful from a conservation standpoint:

  • PANDAS LITERALLY CANNOT MATE IN CAPTIVITY. IT’S UNBELIEVABLE
  • Artificial insemination and hand-rearing of cubs are basically standard practice, and still they usually die. At what point is it reasonable to give up because I think we hit it DECADES AGO
  • In 35 years, only 90 cubs have been born in captivity outside of China
  • Wild panda numbers have increased a bare (bear?) 200 individuals in 10 years, despite literal billions of dollars being poured into conservation
  • NO OTHER AREA OF ANIMAL CONSERVATION EVEN COMES CLOSE TO THE MONEY BEING POURED INTO PANDAS. NONE
  • And yet we’ve managed to literally rebuild populations of black-footed ferrets, oryx, and California condors with exponentially less money
  • Despite all of this, only 10 pandas have been released since the 80s, and all but two died
  • I bet you wouldn’t have guessed that it’s because their habitat is destroyed and fragmentary and barely protected!!!!!! 
  • The only good thing about panda conservation is that protecting their range is also protecting tons of other species. Which would be great, if more of their range was being protected effectively.
  • There is way more money in keeping captive pandas captive than in releasing them!! surprise!!!!!!
  • Zoos pay a lot of money to get pandas on loan because people just LOVE looking at pandas and they can’t afford to house and care for their other animals without people coming to visit! Or do any kind of conservation whatsoever!! Panda-economics! (this is kind of a pro as opposed to a con but its the kind of pro that makes me feel like I need a shower)
  • Pandas are endangered and sort of have a role in spreading bamboo seeds around, so they get billions of dollars. Every shark ever is MORE endangered, and without them the entire ocean ecosystem would collapse, but that’s fine they don’t need money (I’m not bitter) ((I am bitter))

I’m gonna be frank with you. We are in the middle of a mass extinction event, caused by us. Not to be a downer (jk, I’m gonna) but we’re already driving so many species to extinction that we cannot afford to save them all with the money and interest that is in conservation right now. 

Instead, we have to do some kind of awful extinction triage and assess which animals will do the most good to work to conserve - and getting into keystone species, ecosystem engineers, and other truly integral species is a whole other can of worms I’m not gonna touch on - but there are animals that are “more important” in a certain sense than others, in that they can support or affect a much wider range of other species than another

People only care about big, cute, fluffy animals - a common lament heard from conservationists, but it’s so true. There are thousands, if not millions of species that don’t fit this mold that conservation work would benefit eons more than pandas. It’s like fixing a pretty, stained-glass window in a house whose foundations are collapsing and thinking you’re helping. 

Pandas have always been the face of conservation, and they continue to be one of the biggest and most expensive ongoing failures. 


[Sources/ stuff to read to make sense of my incoherent response!]

Keep reading

posted by a zookeeper friend on facebook

As someone in the zoo/aquarium field, I want to say something to everyone who is not…

It is not appropriate or respectful for you to publicly question the death of any animal under the care of zoo professionals. It is also not appropriate to say things that suggest you are more heartbroken than the people who cared for that animal. In case you weren’t aware, all living things must die. Sometimes it’s unexpected, sometimes it’s tragic, and sometimes it’s peaceful and planned for in a humane way.

When a human dies, the health care professionals who took care of that person are not typically questioned or accused of wrong doing. The same should be true for animal care professionals. I can assure you, with all my heart, that no one is more upset about the death than the people who personally knew that animal.

Wild animals die, captive animals die, and human beings die. It’s the natural order of things. I promise you, zoo animals have teams of caring, educated people looking after their well being from day 1 until the very end (and beyond, since every zoo animal gets a full post-mortem examination).

So please, next time you read a press release about the death of a zoo animal, think twice before you assume the worst and make any comments that imply something could have been done to avoid the situation. Zoos don’t intend to cover up the truth. But sometimes it takes weeks or even months to learn the whole story. Feel free to express your condolences and support. Send flowers or cards to the staff if you’d like. But please be patient and respectful. If the health care staff can figure out the cause of death, have faith that they will tell the public… But also understand that sometimes there are questions that may never be answered, due to the great amounts of unknown when caring for wild animals.

Thanks for listening.

When you think of abandoned/stray animals, animals being released on the end of dirt roads to fend for themselves, what do you imagine? $5 says you’re picturing a dog or cat. And that’s very likely the answer! However, there is a significant problem with people releasing small pets, exotics, livestock, and fish as well. 

Pictured here is Samuel, a beardie we had surrendered a number of years ago. What made Samuel’s case unique is that he was found trucking down the middle of a rural road. The person who caught him thought he was a native lizard and brought him in to my workplace asking for advice on how to keep him as a pet because they’d never seen such a cool lizard before. Once reptile care was explained to them, they didn’t want him, but at least learned he shouldn’t be set back loose, so we took him in (and he has since been adopted). 

I have similarly taken in released or escaped (thought we ALWAYS check lost/found when we take in a stray anything, and none of these had anyone looking) iguanas, non-native turtles and tortoises, rabbits, pigs, parakeets, chickens, and more. Heck, if I had the means, I’d have come home with an abandoned horse tied to a post on a rural road. 

Releasing dogs and cats is bad enough. They’re domesticated species and often succumb to disease, predation, injury, starvation, etc., though in some cases do establish feral populations that are injurious to wildlife. Releasing exotics tends to have one of two outcomes: a swift death or, given appropriate climate conditions and multiple individuals, the establishment of invasive populations that threaten native wildlife. Florida is obviously the textbook example, but populations of non-native animals released intentionally or accidentally by individuals or industries are present in virtually every state and indeed most countries. 

So what do you do if you can’t keep your fish, or rabbit, or iguana? Well, for one, never release it into the wild. Many people romanticize “the wild” as a wonderful taste of freedom after a life of captivity even if they acknowledge that the animal will likely not survive. In reality, “the wild” tends to be a terrifying experience for captive bred or domesticated animals, and their end often comes after tremendous suffering. Even if your animal is well suited for the environment it’s being released into, doing so is almost definitely illegal and potentially harmful to native wildlife. 

Instead, try to seek either a) a qualified new home or b) a rescue organization. There are rescues for virtually every animal under the sun, and for every person who doesn’t want x species, there’s someone else desperate to own one. You should always vet both new homes and rescues to make sure you are surrendering the animal responsibly; a basic verbal interview or questionnaire should make clear if the home or rescue is qualified. And honestly, if you can’t find anything and need to surrender your pet to animal control? They still have a better shot, and if they do wind up being euthanized, it is certainly a favorable death to starvation, disease, predators, exposure, etc.

Remember: whenever you obtain an animal, you are entering an unspoken contract to be responsible for that animal’s wellbeing, from start to finish, be that finish with you or someone else. You break that contract when you leave an animal’s fate to chance by releasing it.