Zoos are always a big dilemma for me, but I hope it will change soon.
Since I read about how captivity affects the animal behaviour, I hate the idea of keeping wild animals in zoos. It hurts them, and that’s not where they belong.
However, zoos are meant to play a great role in conservation, education and research. But only a few are serious about conservation when many others are about making profits. With all their marketing efforts, it’s not always easy for the visitors to do research and find out the real objectives of the zoo they plan to visit. The latest surveys from the UK reveal a huge disparity in public perceptions about zoos and the reality of their contribution to conservation (more details here).
Should we close our zoos?
I don’t think so. At least not all of them. Sanctuaries that work hard to save injured wild animals are important.
It’s essential to keep a solution for those who don’t have the luxury to see animals in their wild habitat or to travel to their native region to visit a sanctuary.
A zoo offers an entertaining trip that provides a chance to educate and create powerful experiences. They are a way to inspire people to support causes to save everyone on the planet. If a few are sacrificed in captivity to help the others survive, is it a bad deal? If there is another option, it sounds like a bad deal.
What if there was a way to interact with the wild animals without keeping them captive?
I came across a letter from Justin Francis, CEO of Responsible Travel, addressed to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple. He’s trying to get one of the most innovative and disruptive tech firm to work on a Virtual Reality solution that could offer an experience powerful enough to inspire people without keeping wild animals in captivity. I am passionate about travelling, technology and sustainability, so I love this idea.
Of course, virtual reality will never replace the sensations of seeing wild animals for real, in the habitat where they belong. But I believe it could easily match the experience of seeing them in cages. It has the potential to educate and inspire – even more than a zoo if it’s well done.
And the business model is financially viable too. Zoos are very expensive to maintain, which is why animals can sometimes end up in poor conditions. Once the technology is developed, costs to keep up a virtual park would be lower. More profits could be used for the critical research on conservation.