By Jarriae Anderson
Imagine being at home with your family, laughing, and having a good time. This is an environment you’ve been in your whole life – it’s what you’re used to, but one day strange people take you, lock you up, and let other people look at you for their own enjoyment. You would be scared, right?
That’s what zoos and aquariums do. They pry animals away from their natural habitats and put them under conditions to serve as people’s source of entertainment without taking into account the drastic changes these animals have to go through.
I’m sure most people have heard about Harambe, and for those who haven’t, I’m jealous of. Harambe is a gorilla that was shot and killed at Cincinnati Zoo after a child fell into the gorilla pit and Harambe drug the boy throughout the pit. His death was made into a joke on the internet, but it highlighted an important issue of animal captivity.
If he had been in the wild where he belonged, would this have happened? The short answer is no. Why should that animal have to die because they were forced into captivity and people can’t keep an eye on their kids around wild animals? So, thank you to the millennials that turned Harambe into a meme. You all helped bring attention to a serious issue in a humorous, and annoying, way.
The movie, Blackfish, brought attention to the controversy of captive orcas at SeaWorld. It begins with discussing the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau who was killed by an orca during a show. Former SeaWorld Trainer Christopher Porter said in the film, “When you know the animal and have a relationship with it. You know, that he’s not killing, because he’s a savage…he’s killing, because he’s frustrated and has aggravation. And…he has no outlet for it.”
The film after this makes it their mission to drive home the point that keeping these animals in captivity is not only harmful to the animals, but the people that work with them too. Another former SeaWorld trainer John Hargrove says in his book, an extension of the movie, “…[These] orcas…have been psychologically and physically damaged by captivity.”
Dolphins held in captivity are also known for killing themselves. The movie, The Cove, points out that dolphins in captivity often drown themselves because the filters in their tanks hurt their hearing. They’ve also been known to bang their heads against the walls to end their lives. These animals are so depressed and miserable in these zoos that they’re going as far as to end their own lives. How is that good for anyone? Yes, let’s traumatize children by letting them see animals kill themselves while also making an animal that has the mental capacity to know and understand they want to not be alive carry out their plan.
Human beings should be compassionate to these animals and understand keeping them away from their natural habitats is detrimental for everyone.