There are many facilities in New Zealand that hold wild animals, from traditional zoos like Auckland Zoo to wildlife and safari parks like Kingdom of Zion (Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary). Zoos, especially, argue that they take part in important conservation work, educate the public, and provide animals with enriched habitats. In reality, the business model of zoos involves many things that have nothing to do with conservation or education and are more about keeping animals as living museum exhibits.
Animals in zoos and safari parks are prevented from doing what is natural to them: basic behaviours such as roaming their territories, choosing a mate and deciding what and when to eat. Lacking stimulation and appropriate social interaction, many animals show signs of severe stress and boredom.
Whether you are planning on visiting a zoo or safari park here in New Zealand or overseas, there are a number of factors to consider.
Zoos promote the idea that their main priority is the conservation and protection of endangered species, but most animals in zoos are not endangered at all.
When zoos are marketed as educational, it is easier to forget that individual beings are being held in circumstances to which they are unsuited. Around the world, some zoos also force animals to perform tricks for the public, with no regard for how this might affect the animal.
Even the best zoo cannot adequately provide for an animal adapted to live in the wild. Animals in their natural habitats can roam hundreds of kilometres, hunt prey, raise their offspring and enjoy complex social relationships.
When no longer needed, animals may be sold or loaned by a zoo with complete disregard for those species for whom forming strong bonds is important to their general wellbeing. Being moved to unfamiliar surroundings, new social groups and new keepers can all be very traumatic for the animals, as in the wild many species remain in their groups or families for life.
Eating a plant-based diet is the most important thing you can do to help animals. It's a simple switch, but it makes a big difference. You'll feel great knowing that you are putting your values into action. Challenge yourself to give it a try. We bet you’ll find it tastier and easier than you ever imagined!
As a charity, SAFE is reliant on the support of caring people like you to carry out our valuable work. Every dollar goes towards providing education, undertaking research and campaigning for the benefit of all animals.