“The most sorrowful scene I witnessed was at old Bellevue Zoo in Belfast when I was a child. They had a grey wolf in an enclosure - a nicer name for a cage- and it did nothing but pace up and down from its concrete shelter to the end of its world, a perimenter fence then turn around and pace back to its concrete hut and it repeated this trek over and over. The look on that suffering once noble animal was heartbreaking.I say let's close all Zoos Worldwide.”
Is he right? Don’t get me wrong: the animals in Belfast Zoo seem well looked after. The zoo-keepers seem attentive and dedicated to their animals. The cages are clean and smell fresh.
The smaller animals look to be having a ball: the lemurs have the run of a whole forest (well, a small wood) of trees, runs and ropes. The giraffes have a huge yard to wander around, strangely followed by some ostriches. And the penguins look like they’re in heaven swimming around their extended pool.
But the lions and leopards seem bored. Pacing round and round their enclosures, large enclosures, but far from the savannahs they are used to. In my mind—and I’m not an expert in animal welfare or running a zoo—it falls short of cruelty, but it’s less than ideal to keep such large animals isolated, sometimes on their own away from their species, in less than expansive enclosures.
Or is it more complicated? Does the threat of extinction justify less than perfect methods of ensuring that species continue to survive? That education about conservation will bring about a greater good?
What do you think about Royman’s point? Do you agree? Disagree?