Yesterday I watched Mysteria/Live 2012 DVd from The Rasmus. In the backstage footage we see some clips of the band visiting a zoo. At a certain moment one of the band member looks at a gorilla and says: "This is so wrong, we keep them here as prisoners."
I have always loved the zoo. As a child, my mother used to take my sister, me and some friends to the zoo a lot. Of course when you are little, you do not realise that the animals are indeed prisoners. The zoo is a great place and nothing is more amazing to an animal loving child than to watch all these magnificent animals. Now, I am older and wiser. I really feel sorry for the animals trapped in the zoo and, for some reason, especially birds. They are the image of freedom to me. They can fly go everywhere they want, no obstacle like water, mountains or cities can stop them. It strange to see them in such small cages but most of those animals have never known freedom. Sometimes I'm ashamed to be human.
I do believe that, if the animals are properly housed, the zoo is a great place. I can understand that we can't give animals unlimited space to roam and that it is already a lot better than 50 years back, but it can still be improved. If you compare the city zoo of Antwerp to Blijdorp, the zoo in Rotterdam, you'll see how much better the latter is. The animals have more space and the park is much more beautiful and less crowded (because it's domain is larger) than Antwerp. It is impossible for the Antwerp zoo to give the animals more space because they don't have the domain for it. They could compensate by housing less animals. The zoo is a great place for everyone to see exotic and rare animals without having to travel a lot. I know you can use picture to teach kids how certain animals look, but it's not the same as seeing the real, living animals with your own eyes! Animals living in captivity is also a great way to do research and to breed.
Besides zoo's, we keep animals ion cages at home as well: rabbits, hamsters, fish, birds, rats etc. They are most of the time, especially birds and larger mammals, house in cages which are ridiculously small compared to the animal size and very often group animals are kept alone as well. My parents own a canary which lives in a very small cage and a rabbit. The rabbit shouldn't be kept on it's own, but we rescued it and have no place for another. It's kind of sad that in the small, lonely cage all the time, but better than being left somewhere outside in the middle of the winter.
As you may know, I have a horse. I try to keep it as natural as possible, but obviously I cannot leave him roaming around. He used to be locked up in a stable for at least 12 to 14 hours a day and when the weather was bad, sometimes for 24 hours or more. I hated it so I moved him to a new place and now he can stay outside all day. At night he is locked up with his friend on a smaller space right in front of the stable (which that can freely go into if they want). I know it's no ideal, but it's the best that I could do with the budget I have. If I could, I would house him in a large herd that have a very large meadow and stays outside all the time except in extreme weather conditions, but unfortunately I cannot afford to spend 300 euro a month for housing alone. If, for some reason, I have no other choice than to house my horses where he cannot get out of the stable for more than an hour or four a day, I will sell him. I do not want to keep animals in such conditions.
Zoo are great, keeping pets is great if you give them proper care and housing. I will never ever house an animal in a tiny cage or lock it up in a stable for a whole day. That 's animal cruelty.