Many people have happy memories of visiting zoos, going on animal safaris, visiting aquariums or wildlife centers, and enjoying circuses. However, few things are as unfortunate and sad as the lives led by these animals being held in captivity against their will.
Some institutions go to great lengths to try to provide realistic, comfortable habitats for the animals in their care, but even those measure up to be nothing more than glorified prisons. Put simply, animals in captivity live lives of misery. The number of sad animals being held in captivity is enormous and tragic and, more often than not, it results in a vast array of devastating psychological effects.
Though it may be surprising to some, animals feel and express emotions just like humans. Primates, our nearest cousins, are the most obvious example, with numerous recorded cases of grief being expressed during parent, child, and sibling separations. Captive animals - whether in a zoo, at a circus, or on a farm - have a far greater chance of having their families broken up. From birds to elephants, animals are lovingly attached to their closest kin and when a separation occurs, their hearts are broken.
Captive animals often feel trapped - a normal response considering that is exactly their situation. A multitude of stories, ranging from a bi-polar polar bear being put on Prozac to donkeys and wildcats that self-mutilate, point to the severe and cruel dysfunction that results from living in settings like zoos, wildlife centers, circuses, and even private homes.
Captive animals have no voice and are often at the mercy of their supposed caregivers who, in some reported cases, have beaten, whipped, wounded, or otherwise tortured and tormented these animals. Even when caregivers actually do try their best, the conditions under which some captive animals are forced to live are unbearable. For example, animals with paw pads suffer from rough or hot pavement, wire cages that cut and maim them, and diseases that come from living in unsanitary conditions. Food quality can also be poor, and some animals have no choice but to drink dirty water.
Animals held captive in zoos and so-called wildlife sanctuaries are often over-bred in order to maintain a regular supply of animals that can be "on show." However, this results in too many animals being born, creating a surplus of unwanted animals. Unfortunately, these "extra" animals are then put to death, or "culled," just for existing.