Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Zoo animals may be interesting to see through glass, but they do not lead the ideal life in captivity.
Zoo animals may be interesting to see through glass, but they do not lead the ideal life in captivity. Photo courtesy of
You see them in little sweaters, in random parks, in zoos; I’m talking about those critters we know and love, or have asked to pet at some point.
Most of us would admit we love animals and cherish their presence, but we also find ourselves enjoying things that may exploit them.
Take zoos and aquariums, for example. We plan to visit these places because we get to see animals in a place we naturally wouldn’t see them. It’s exciting, and we spend hours “ooh-ing” and “ahh-ing” over these scaly or furry friends.
But the point that is rarely explored is how animals are treated in these places. Most of us wouldn’t find enjoyment in hurting them, but that is indirectly what we are investing in when we visit these places. Another popular one is circuses. They are wild, exciting and entertaining. But oftentimes the animals are underfed, overworked and severely confined at the expense of our entertainment.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the fun of the circus is quite the opposite for the animals involved.
“In many circuses, animals are trained through the use of intimidation and physical abuse. Former circus employees have reported seeing animals beaten, whipped and denied food and water, all to force them to learn their routines. Animals are taught that not obeying the trainer will result in physical abuse. In the United States, no government agency monitors animal training sessions,” reports the ASPCA.
It doesn’t make us bad people for visiting these places. But it helps to stay informed so we don’t accidentally invest in industries that do abuse our beloved critters.
Personally, I make it a point to avoid aquariums, zoos and circuses. I’m working on incorporating Meatless Mondays and an overall lower dependence on meat.
Fish are friends, not food, and we ultimately play a vital part in how animals are and can be treated in the future.