Some people have advised to "Close Zoos and encourage people to see the animal in nature" without thinking of the unintended consequence of having millions of people swarming into these animals' natural habitat. If more people were to see animals in their habitats, it would likely lead to an increase in pollution, an increase in motor injury to the animals, more dangerous animal-to-human interaction in nature among many other issues.
If society believes that some animals should not be in captivity at all due to moral/practical reasons, it is worth asking: What other technologically driven solutions can be made/used to help people of all demographics experience what it is like to be in front of X animal? The solution may be to have a moving replica, a 3D simulator or something entirely different.
Instead, every jurisdiction with two zip codes has its own mediocre animal jail. Not to mention the uncountable number of private zoos. I'd personally like to see those regulated out of existence, except when very high standards of welfare can be met.
Seems like the perfect use case for VR?
It may also allow you to experience animals that have gone extinct.
It's not a technology without merit.
I would say education teaching people that the urge to be 'in front of X animal' is likely dangerous and destructive and something we shouldn't do.
The use of media tools to allow limited interactions to be shared with much wider audiences like we see with Our Planet and other nature documentaries are more than enough to provide information, exposure, and there is no doubt that movies and media has already inspired thousands of biologists and other scientists to get into their fields (I know biologists that refer to themselves as the free willy generation due to their love of biology and nature starting with those movies at a young age, for example)
Honestly, I think it's a bit weird to think these problems need to be solved at the same time. If we accept that there is something deeply immoral about holding these animals in captivity, that absolutely and immediately overshadows the problem of, how do we get these animals in front of as many diverse demographics as possible now so they can (we hope) act in favor of conservation?
They usually don't.
First, most zoos end up having to be driven by capitalism (even if they are non-profit), and as such are incentivized to try to game-ify the experience. Many parents and most children don't want to pay money to be lectured to. They want to have FUN.
Therefore, the experience ends up arriving at an awkward intersection between science and commerce, and it can create unhelpful connotations between animal captivity and entertainment.
Second, most people have an inate understanding that a living creature in captivity is wrong, and likely not super beneficial for the creature. So the zoos - both super conservation-focused ones, and brutal cruel entertainment zones alike - have to make an effort to justify and convince the public that actually the animals are well taken care of, are comfortable, and happy, true or not.
This further perpetuates the idea in people's heads that animals exist for our amusement and we can give them a better happier life than the wilderness.
Why is all this a problem? Because childhood memories are formative and significant. These experiences shape us and our understanding of the world. We are in a significant time of species extinction - caused directly by human activity. The amount that people care about this, about deforestation, about habitat loss, directly affects how much they care about voting for policies that either help the situation, or exacerbate it.
I'll reiterate - I think zoos/aquariums CAN be a force of good here and help change many people's minds. But I don't know if overall they are a net good if the majority of the uneducated population just treats them as an entertainment escape and formulates in their head that it's not a big deal if rhinos go extinct as long as we can still see them at zoos.
If we want people to see nature, we have to preserve actual nature and encourage people to visit it. Visiting a zoo is not visiting nature, and I personally worry that equivocating the two is dangerous.
I would not want people to get the impression that as long as we keep a few breeding pairs of every animal in our museums, there is no need to preserve places for them to live in actual nature.
I don’t find this compelling, and think that you are missing the point: visiting zoos is a way to inspire people to care about nature such that they will want to preserve it.
I was at a zoological society fundraiser where Joel Sartore, founder of the Nat Geo “Photo Ark” series, was the keynote speaker. In it he talks about the intrinsic good of nature and biodiversity. Because it is a good in and of itself, how can we protect it?
His argument was kids today aren’t connected to nature in the same way generations past have been connected to nature. With TV, video games, smart phones, etc., kids generally don’t spend as much time outside as they used to, and if they do, there is a higher chance it is in a more Urban area than years past.
Zoos, he argues, are one of the few remaining places a kid can see nature up close, and hopefully see the intrinsic good of nature to “give a shit” about it (his words). Once they do “give a shit,” they are more likely to want to protect it once they are grown up.
So zoos protect and preserve nature (an intrinsic good) and hopefully inspire younger generations to care about nature and grow up to want to protect it (instrumental good).
I found his argument compelling, and don’t think declaring that people should simply “preserve actual nature” would be very effective.
She seems quite aware that zoos are prisons for animals, and although she did like them when she was too young to understand all of the ramifications, today she is not interested in visiting our local zoo at all.
What you are repeating here is that zoos are a kind of propaganda for protecting nature, not that zoos protect nature.
Therefore, zoos are not an intrinsic good, they are one possible strategy for motivating people to actually protect nature.
Saying that zoos are good in this fashion is like saying that advertising is good because it may motivate people to do good. That’s fine, but it doesn’t make advertising an intrinsic good.
An intrinsic good is something internal to the thing itself. What you are actually arguing is that zoos are an extrinsic good, that the goodness of the zoo happens somewhere else, in the actual nature, and somewhen else, when the kids grow up.
When you start building paths and roads and hiring rangers, you do make it safer for people to see these great areas, but you also put a system in place that's makes it not quite what it was.
I also think you need "parkland" at all levels. here in Canada's GTA, we have areas managed by the the Toronto Recreation and Conservation Authority, and they try their best to preserve nature while managing access.
I belong to several MTB clubs that work with them, and they to put guardrails in place. We can't dig trails without studying the effect on the habitat first, trails are regularly closed for regeneration, they prohibit night riding to protect nocturnal behaviour, &c.
But once you get into the backcountry, its pristine wilderness, with a good number of wild animals. We've certainly been more successful at protecting bears, wolves, mountain lions and numerous prey animals, than any other country on earth.
(Bring a dry suit, or prepare to put on every scrap of neoprene you can beg, borrow, or steal. Georgian Bay is damn cold.)
Of course not. But being able to see a giraffe in "nature" isn't something most people could ever do.
> I would not want people to get the impression that as long as we keep a few breeding pairs of every animal in our museums, there is no need to preserve places for them to live in actual nature.
Is anyone actually getting that impression? Seeing animals in zoos often is a catalyst for wanting to improve habitats in the wild. If you've never seen a giraffe, why would someone care about a giraffe habitat? It's abstract when it's "over in Africa" -- it's real when you can see the animal yourself and thus you're going to be more passionate about protecting those animals' habitats.
> I personally worry that equivocating the two is dangerous
I'm willing to bet a visit to SeaWorld has led to more kids wanting to be marine biologists and protect the oceans that any other experience. Nobody is suggesting that SeaWorld is the ocean. SeaWorld is a window into the wonderment that is out there in the real ocean. Look at the Monterey Aquarium -- they are significant drivers of marine preservation and education. Should the aquarium be closed, lest someone mistake the fact that they aren't actually viewing the animals in the real ocean?
You can still see dolphins and whales, it just takes more effort. The ferry between the North and South island in New Zealand is often followed by bottle nose dolphins. There are tour groups in Seattle that take people into the sound to track down Orcas. You can even come across seals sometimes out of the rocks, if you cycle around coastal areas.
Many of them take animals that are rescues, have serious injuries and many can't be returned to the wild. Some zoos have breeding programs and attempt breeding and release work. Some zoos even have endlings, the last of a species that can only survive (for now) in captivity.
Most zoos are small and bad, but there are a few good ones that try to provide a good amount of space and comfortable living for animals. The San Diego Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo and Melbourne Zoo are all good examples.
Also, with some animals, keeping them in zoos in the best place for them because they wouldn't survive in the wild. Many zoos have permanently injured birds, for instance, that can't fly any more, and there's also albino animals (like white tigers) that can't live in the wild.
While I really love the Toronto zoo, watching their lynx pace back and forth in the cage, digging a path into the ground, that really impacted my impression of zoos generally. Perhaps large cats like that don't belong in small enclosures.
Lynx are actually much smaller than I expected, and bobcats even smaller than that. Still, they need a large space to thrive.
As for needing a large space to thrive: that would be nice, but they can't really live in the wild in most places any more because stupid humans will kill them. This is the whole reason deer are so overpopulated in many places in the US; lynxes are their normal predators.
Our treatment of animals (pets, meat) is one of the indicators of how primitive we still are as a civilization... or, god forbid, species.
Wow, so they passed a national law that essentially targets just a single park? How often does that happen anywhere? (I know the back story but I never knew Marineland was the only place... not saying this is wrong or right, just surprised)
Some quick searching shows that some aquariums have been doing this, including Marineland itself:
In this sense, passing the bill now might be less of an incentive to change and more prevention of a change back.
Might be more common than you think.
The state of Missouri passed an amendment in 2010  that changed rules about a position "except counties with a population between 600,001-699,999", which just happened to only apply to Jackson County in the state. (I always assumed there was some kind of backroom dealing involved with the officials of that county.)
I can't find it now but I also think there's a similar law that used a similar population work around with a limit of 1,000,000 people, which was in danger of no longer applying to St. Louis county because the population was threatening to fall to around 999,000.
 This isn't a criticism, per se, but this propensity does tend to get Trudeau and his party into trouble. I voted for his government in the last election and fully support this law.
See also: Gay Marriage legalization. The Liberals passed a bill legalizing it, but only after the courts of two provinces were set to make it legal anyway.
Same with this bill. To downplay it because companies have already been adjusting to this expected reality quite petty, and they deserve full credit for the legislation of it.
A few years prior the Liberal government of the day was opposed to gay marriage and voted to confirm the status quo definition of marriage.
The Liberals of course deserve credit for seeing the obvious and not attempting any action to block gay marriage further, but they did not lift a finger to support gay marriage until the courts weighed in and forced the issue upon them.
Long term the supreme court of Canada would have struck down provincial bans on gay marriage, but not all of the provincial courts would have. Inevitable could take 10 years, or 50.
Doing it nationally and at once reduced years of suffering and human rights issues, and thus was significant.
>The Liberals of course deserve credit for seeing the obvious and not attempting any action to block gay marriage further, but they did not lift a finger to support gay marriage until the courts weighed in and forced the issue upon them.
That's simply not true.
And there's lots more, it only takes a few moments with web search to turn up plenty of allegations that Marineland and its owner are toxic.
It doesn't target them, it targets all Canadian wildlife institutions. The legislation has been in the works for a while, this is really codifying something federally that provinces and environmentalists have been trying to do for a while.
Just because a lot of the ground work was already done before the bill was signed into law over the last decade doesn't mean this is targeted at the last remaining holdout (who is mostly grandfathered in to be clear, they can't bread or capture but can keep what they have).
Even in the US, Seaworld has decided to phase out whales and try to push other attractions, due to shifts in public opinion. I have a feeling other US aquariums, like Chicago, will likely go the same route and not replace or breed their current dolphin/whales populations.
"Whales and dolphins that are already in captivity will be grandfathered in by the bill, meaning parks can keep all the animals they currently own."
See [Whale watching excursions prohibited in part of the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park](https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1178858/parc-marin-sagu...) for example.
What's the alternative where the law rules? If federal jurisdiction is where the law/regulation would belong, how else would you bring an end to that practice?
> "Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ont., says new law won't impact its operations."
They are a signatory to the moratorium on whale hunting, but exploits a loophole which allows whales to be killed in the name of ‘scientific research’.
The aquarium argued it was a pure research program, and it was a legit research program that had been going on for decades at least, I think. But public opinion swung against them and they made arrangements to end their program. Mostly their position was untenable because the aquarium supports itself with visitor ticket prices and donations, and the simple sight of belugas doing neurotic laps in a relatively tiny tank was enough to cause ticket sales to drop once it was publicized that their living conditions were inhumane.
(I'm not suggesting that they should do this, just that they will. "Research" can be an easily abused loophole. Just look at Japan and their whale "research".)
I am not a fan of keeping wild animals in captivity, but I am very much in favor of the types of rescue programs like those run by Vancouver Aquarium (and of captive breeding programs for at-risk, endangered, and extinct in the wild species).
Some wild animals, especially high-functioning ones -- are meant to be seen in the wild.
If they are in imminent danger, of course -- building city-like habitats to protect them (whatever a 'city' would mean in their context) -- is more than appropriate.
We could also invest into building teams of people whose show-business is around building relationships with animals in the wild, in such a way that they can periodically visit the team and not be spooked by onlookers.
It takes years, dangerous, and would not always work -- but much more humane than keeping these creatures in forced captivity.
Putting a wild animal in a cage isn't "boredom", its torture.
> Now biological evolution is complete because it is displaced by the evolution of civilization
That's not a true statement.
>Why do animals have to suffer in wild nature now?
Because animals ARE wild/ARE Nature. You can't remove nature from nature.
>allowing animals to live in the wild will be considered a crime (like living children unattended).
This is... absurd... Animals are not pets, animals ARE wild, they are dangerous. They are also required for life on this planet to continue. The ecosystem depends on animals at all levels of the energy/food web for it to exist and continue and screwing with this on that level would largely ensure the collapse of the worlds ecosystems.
Then what about meerkats as pets, for example?
> Because animals ARE wild/ARE Nature. You can't remove nature from nature.
Who say this to you? It was God, animals themselves or some voice of Universe? There is no one here, only us. We can do what we think is right. If we see suffering that has no any purpose, we can stop it. What is "purpose" is just our choice too.
> They are also required for life on this planet to continue.
For what? Now we are life on the planet. Nature has evolved and we are the result and next step.
>The ecosystem depends on animals at all levels ..
Now we have a new ecology: mankind and Earth.
What about it?
>Who say this to you? It was God, animals themselves or some voice of Universe?
This is what I learned by studying biology and ecology
>There is no one here, only us. We can do what we think is right.
You're suggesting interrupting a natural ecosystem that is beyond complex, likely leading to its complete collapse, due to lack of understanding.
You may "think" you're right, but anthropogenic projection and a complete lack of understanding of how the world works doesn't make your view right, if anything your an example of someone with good intentions that would utterly fuck up the world if you were given control
>If we see suffering that has no any purpose, we can stop it. What is "purpose" is just our choice too.
Suffering is a natural state of existence, we all experience it, it's part of life, many philosophers would argue a necessary part of life.
>For what? Now we are life on the planet. Nature has evolved and we are the result and next step.
We rely on a massively complex ecosystem made up of millions of other living organisms. We are not "the life", we are an example of it on this plane.
Nature is continuing to evolve, we're just one point on a long line of changes.
>Now we have a new ecology: mankind and Earth.
That is absurd and unjustifiable. Earth's ecosystem is made up of billions and billions of living things, humans are just one part of it, and one of the most damaging, destructive, short-sighted living things and we cause significantly more suffering than anything else.
I would suggest starting with biology and ecology courses, and some history both geological and human.
No.We did not understand each other. I'm talking about what we will do when we completely destroy this ecosystem. May be it will take about hundred years.
> Suffering is a natural state of existence..
Then why do we worry about animals in zoos? We are part of nature too. Then why do we separate natural and non-natural suffering?
> Nature is continuing to evolve, we're just one point on a long line of changes.
Wild nature has no time for this. Evolution requires millions of years. We will destroy it before anyway. And even if we disappear and let it to evolve farther, then for what? It has produced conscious cpecies already.
> Earth's ecosystem is made up of billions and billions of living things, humans are just one part of it.
Ok. Another point of view: what do you think about the
I think you equate humans with animals. But that is absurd, because it is the judgment of man. Animal cannot judge at all.
You separate nature and mankind and then say that it just part of nature. I do'n understand a point.
> I would suggest starting with biology and ecology courses, and some history both geological and human.
I think I studied it at school 30 years ago :). Last years I finished with quantum mechanics and switched to English language (sorry, the hardest subject for me).
Especially with the death of retail, can you imagine large retail spaces getting converted into awesome VR parks?
Also, if your very lucky you can walk around the sea wall in Vancouver and occasionally see Orcas and other aquatic wildlife.
> Many cetaceans in captivity develop stereotypies, or unnatural, often purposeless behaviors that can be a manifestation of poor mental health. Such behaviors include repetitive pacing, swaying, head-bobbing or circling, and bar-biting (Cetacean Inspiration, 2011). One of the most prominent stereotypies noticed in these whales is an activity known as slide outs. The whale will slide out of the water and sit motionless, sometimes for 10 minutes at a time (Cetacean Inspiration, 2011). This creates safety issues for the guests of marine mammal parks like SeaWorld. If a whale did this in the wild for too long of a time the weight of the whale could crush its own internal organs (Cetacean Inspiration, 2011).
> Using data from between 1973-4 and 1987, females have a mean life expectancy of 50.2 yr
How is this possible? I don't understand how a 14 year observation window allows someone to observe an average life expectancy of 50 years.
Quick and dirty: size is a pretty good indicator to approximate, but if you've got yourself a dead whale you can check the bones to get a better number.
There's a whole book about that sort of thing, by a fairly well-respected scientist in the field: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Expression_of_the_Emotions...
Most whales have a natural range of thousands of miles over the course of a year. Keeping them in tanks, no matter how generous to our eyes, is the equivalent of keeping a human in a bathroom for their entire life—-with exactly as little stimulation or variety as that implies.
Another response observes that whales in captivity always develop at least some neurotic behaviours, and this is generally regarded as directly caused by the incredibly limited environment in which they spend their lives. At one time, the argument was made that having them perform for crowds was necessary to keep them from going crazy.
I think that’s actually a valid argument if you keep something in captivity. When you put humans in jail it’s also better to give them something to do instead of just having them sit around.
Freedom is still the best option though.
>From 1979 to 1980, however, we were able to interact with juvenile orcas in an unstructured way at San Diego’s SeaWorld facility. We observed in the animals what appeared to be pranks, tests of trust, limited use of tactical deception, emotional self-control, and empathetic behaviors. Our observations were consistent with those of a former Seaworld trainer, and provide important insights into orca cognition, communication, and social intelligence. However, after being trained as performers within Seaworld’s commercial entertainment program, a number of orcas began to exhibit aggressive behaviors. The orcas who previously established apparent friendships with humans were most affected, although significant aggression also occurred in some of their descendants, and among the orcas they lived with.
All that to say I have never met a reptile I felt would rather be in captivity. Maybe the exception is the tegu whick does seem very content to remain captive.
Even if they look happy during shows, the "behind the scenes" activities can be objectively very cruel.
We need to stop assuming as people we're able to tell the emotions of non-humans without specific training/experience.
The Trudeau gov’t is coming up for election soon and is polling quite poorly. The gov’t is saddled by a scandal involving interference with the Minister of Justice. Trudeau also mentioned a single use plastic ban yesterday.
They are pursuing one of these sanctuaries in Canada at the moment among other countries.
I have often thought about running whale song through a RNN and broadcasting underwater to listen for responses.
We don't need to go to other planets to find intelligent nonhuman life, it is already here and we are wiping them out and enslaving them.
Our grandchildren will learn about this genocide in the same way we learn about the holocaust and conquering of the Americas.
A story: every year a Japanese dog food company goes to a certain island lagoon where dolphins migrate to reproduce. They net and kill thousands and take them away.
Each year some dolphins escape, inevitably. They swim around for a year, and then the next year come back (with many other dolphins) to the lagoon, and likely get netted and killed.
Didn't they remember what happened? Didn't they communicate it to other dolphins? Don't they care?
I have to conclude either
Dolphins are not smart enough to remember from year to year,
or Dolphins can't communicate with other dolphins in a sophisticated enough way to say "danger! evil here!" which is pretty basic,
or Dolphins are dicks and don't care if other dolphins are killed,
or heck, maybe Dolphins, like Klingons, enjoy the challenge? "Today is a good day to die!"
I think its pretty cut-and-dried, dolphins are nowhere near as bright as humans.
Dolphins do communicate with each other, they use vocal communication and body language. Our failure to understand it doesn't invalidate its existence.
They form lifelong familial bonds. They have friends and enemies and form complex social structures.
They play regularly and have advanced hunting tactics that require a high degree of coordination.
They even take recreational drugs.
I have spent a significant amount of time in the water with dolphins throughout my life, and I have developed relationships with dolphins I regularly see that are at the very least as complex as the one you have with the barrista that makes your coffee every day.
If the cutoff for intelligence is human intelligence, which human is the standard?