Go!Smell a trip to the zoo.

Posted on February 18th, 2008 by BO

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Bo here,today was my daughters 2nd birthday,so we took a trip to Chester Zoo,it was a beautiful sunny day and all the animals were out basking in the sunshine.Most of the animals at Chester Zoo are part of a breeding a conservation programme.

The Asiatic Lions we saw today are only found in the Gir Forest National Park,Gujarat,India. With only 350 left and most of them being related,it’s increasingly difficult to succesfully breed animals like this.They have to check bloodlines and things like that.They recently imported a female lion from a Zoo in Rome to Chester,in the hope of them succesfully mating.

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There’s a picture of the loving couple,as you can see they are getting on fine,despite being behind a chain link fence!

So,what’s your take on animal conservation,do you agree with zoo’s or should animals be left where they are?


45 Responses to “Go!Smell a trip to the zoo.”

  1. David S says:

    The last zoo I visited was Chester Zoo, around 15 years ago. I made the decision at that time that I would never patronise such an establishment again.

    The animals were couped up in insufficient space, did not all appear to be in the best of health and looked bored out of their brains.

    How do you tell if an animal is bored? Well one of the elephants stood next to a wall against which it was repeatedly banging its head.

    The flea bitten orangutan sat on the ground covering its eyes and ears with its hands, periodically looking up at the spectators then diving back for cover under its hands.

    The gorilla kept on turning its back to any humans who got into a postion to look it in the eyes, whilst eating its own faeces.

    These are 3 highly intelligent animals who were clearly distressed. I have never witnessed such organised cruelty meted out by humans to animals, done in the name entertainment and education.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a do-gooding animal rights activist. I wholeheartedly agree with giving beagles another fag, conducting medical and scientific research on animals, wearing leather shoes and eating meat.

    But what I witnessed that day was, frankly, shameful.

    • Lib says:

      Mmmm, I think that was back in the day when Chester Zoo was actually a zoo, now its a well run, not for profit, breeding and conservation programme.

      Obviously not all zoo’s are like this, there was a story in the UK press recently about a zoo in the South of England offering visitors the opp to pet and feed a tiger for ?150 and you can also buy gift experiences to that effect.

      Madness.

    • BO says:

      David,perhaps you should take a trip again to Chester Zoo,15 years ago,a lot of animals were kept in Zoo’s for the public’s entertainment.Today is a totally different matter,some need to be in captivity to keep the species from going extinct.Although they are not in their natural habitat,they are kept in good order.There are over ten elepahants there now and we witnessed a couple of them playing today…banging into each other.

      The Orang Utangs now have a purpose built enclosure called ‘Realm of the Red Ape’ all seemed happy and again were playing,too far away to see the fleas..you must have good eyes.

      Most primates except humans eat their own faeces,no doubt there are zoo’s that have animals kept in bad conditions but Chester isn’t one of them,again i suggest you should go take a visit.

    • AngryfromEllesmerePort says:

      Ah! Chester Zoo. I remember it well – home of the w*****g chimpanzee

  2. Jim & Em says:

    Hi Bo, great to see you back on here and thanks for sharing your family zoo trip with us. Whilst David S’s points are valid we’d challenge him to look at Dubai Zoo which is off the radar in terms of poor conidtions for animals – the place is a disgrace.

    Maybe we dress Chester Zoo up as fond memories, school trips and a place for kids and if animals are protected in captivity (like we assume the Asiatic Lions are) from being wiped out then all well and good.

    Chester Zoo now claims to be the UK’s # 1 zoo with 7,000 animals and 400 species – http://www.chesterzoo.org/ – maybe times have ch-ch-ch-ch changed David?

    If imprisoned for the sake of eye candy then what’s wrong with watching re-runs of Jonny Morrises Animal Magic?

    • David S says:

      I have seen Dubai zoo from the outside, I live less than 1 mile from it. That vision in itself should be enough to out anyone off.

    • I’ll second Jem w.r.t Dubai Zoo. I”ve been there once only. It was heart-wrenching. And revolting when you consider that Dubai is so full of $$.

      Having never visited Chester zoo, I cannot comment on it per se. However, on a general note, I am not in favour of zoos. Wild animals are meant to roam free in their natural habitat, not constrained by fences in a limited space. I cannot see how any wild animal in captivity can be ‘happy’. We are playing ostrich when we say that.

      Granted, sometimes for conservation purposes, some species need to be bred in ‘captivity’. Conservation parks are best suited for that purpose. The animals go on enjoying their natural habitat while human monitoring takes place.

      If you will argue that breeding in zoos is sometimes the only conservation option, then it should be only long enough for the numbers to go up again and the animals released in their natural habitat. Any self-respecting naturalist will tell you that. Does this happen with zoos? I doubt.

      • David S says:

        With you on this BJ, breeding programmes are one thing, but the edutainment value of zoos is extremely questionable.

        How can anyone kid themselves, whatever the standard of the zoo, that wild animals are contented exhibits?

        Laughable

      • BO says:

        Point taken Bridget,i bet many animals don’t get released,good way of prolonguing their existence though.

  3. Mike says:

    Hi Bo

    We went to Whipsnade Zoo during the half-term holidays when it decided it was going to be spring in Feb!

    That zoo is great, the animals have plenty of space all look healthy, in fact they have just had a baby elephant born:

    http://www.zsl.org/zsl-whipsnade-zoo/news/zoo-baby-makes-an-ele-of-a-debut,431,NS.html

    My kids loved it!

  4. Lib says:

    With the Asiatic lions, why does it matter if they are related?

    Surely it’s not an ethical issue?

    Seriously though, I didn’t think inter-breeding caused problems genetically in any other species than humans?

    • Emma F says:

      The potential for causing problems would be the same as with humans – because it’s a genetic issue. The problems would be different though.

      That said – it’s increased risks – not certainties, and there is a mixture of good and bad.

      If the animals are related, there is an increased risk that their offspring will get the same ‘version’ of the gene from each parent. Then it is down to whether the gene is ‘bad’ or good – ie does the version of the gene cause problems or help the animal.

  5. aussiecynic says:

    G’Day Bo..

    Happy Birthday to your little one……
    We are facing a similar problem with the Tassie Devil they will extinct in about 10 years…
    Facial Tumour Disease so the country has instigated a conservation program where by they are removing devils who are not containminated with this and relocating them to the mainland….. to save the species I will be posting about it shortly….

    Toronga Park Zoo in Sydney is the best example of how they have changed when I was a kids I would go and the elephants would be in their cement enclosures and the seals and killer whales in their pool, etc no room and not very natural over the years going back form time to time I have seen the zoo turn into a wonderful place where the animals are given space, no cement visible, even the tigers cant see you you view them through special gaps in the wall or skylights … this way being less intrusive to them and all the creatures seem to be more and more relexed, less stressed, there condition inproved and above all they seemed happier…. this zoo has one of he best captive breeding programs in the world even breeding platypus which is unheard off….
    In Lanceston Park they have Monkeys yep in the park, they do have their own open area you can walk around one side of the enclosure but it is screened, there is a moat around one side and they swim in it, a few trees and loads of branches they sleep in pens underneath, it is much like where they came from in Japan except for the cement and pens I guess, but these monkeys are breeding quite happily to the point that they send them to zoos…..

    The thing is unless we want these to be gone for ever something needs to be done to protect them and genetic biodiversity with a species is the key, when the environment has recovered and all countries are on the same page with conservation areas then these critters can be placed in their natural habitat otherwise they would die out completely…..
    I dont like zoos as a place to keep animals captive but I do llike the work they do with preserving them….

  6. Yeah, I go back & forth when it comes to zoos. I know that the larger more prestigeous ones do great things, like research, saving speices etc. But I’ve been to some smaller ones where I’ve left feeling like it was just wrong. Perhaps better legislation on the size of area for each animal or something…I dunno. But a zoo just to make money is distasteful to me. I think the larger ones, as I said, do good and that good outweighs having animals confined.

  7. Bo Snr says:

    Bo
    Many years ago you Great-grandfather was a member of the North of England Zoological Society. He actively campaigned for improvements to the animals conditions many of which i remember being implemented.
    My main memory was a huge solitary polar bear endlessly pacing its enclosure. This all gradually improved and by the time I took you and you sister to the zoo all the animals were well looked after both physically and mentally

  8. Urban Pagan says:

    Congrats on what sounded like an ace day Bo! Two years- how the time flies!

    As for Zoos

    erm

    I LOVE THEM

    Absolutely love them to bits.

    I make a point of going to zoos wherever I am on holidays being honest.

    My fave Zoo moments

    Going to Bronx Zoo in New York. Amazing facility. You learn so much about it. Went on a Wednesday when gawd love the US its FREE. However left a suitable donation as it was AMAZING. They have a great educational programme there too and the kids who we saw around there love it. Zoos are also integral too the effective continuation and breeding of endangered species.

    Barcelona Zoo- was fortunate enough to see Snowflake- the only recorded Albino gorilla there before he shuffled off at 40 odd years old.

    I also really like Chester Zoo. Great facility and full of learning and fun for all ages.

    Blue Planet Aquarium in E Port is also really good.

    But defo consider an NY trip- the Zoo was a great alternative to the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. The US, as critical as I can be does tourism and hospitality better than any other country in my humble.

  9. jonathan says:

    As a kid, I went to coventry zoo and I remember it for a sad elephant in one of those nasty concrete pens with a big ditch.

    Years later, I went to London Zoo (80′s) and i was amazed at the space and obvious care of the animals.

    Now we’re quite close to Twycross in the midlands so we often take the kids – always a great day out. You worry about the ‘sanity’ of the apes etc as we are all far more educated and aware of the probelms of captive animals than we were in the 70′s, but for education and the fact that most of us will never be able to see these animals in the wild, it’s a great experience.

    But I still remember the sad elephant!

    Jonathan

  10. AngryfromEllesmerePort says:

    No probs with Zoo’s as long as they are good value

  11. Lib says:

    Will someone please answer my question about interbreeding?

    I was being serious!

  12. Hi BO, it’s good to see your post and doubly good because it was your little ones birthday! I love taking the kids to the zoo and here in Melbourne, they also run educational programs which is great, as does the Perth Zoo which we visited while we were away over there on holidays. We also have open zoo’s here – Healesville Santuary and Werribee Zoo where the animals are not caged and in order to see them, you hop on a safari bus and get taken on a tour.

    The only other animal enclosure I have been to outside of Australia is the Graeme Hall Sanctuary in Barbados where they take in injured wildlife and nurse them back to health. They generally run around freely and you have to watch your step as the tortoises are abundant. There is a massive two storey aviary for the birds which is awesome, and there are some animals behind fences with plenty of room to roam in.

    I think it’s great that we have these facilities and of the ones I have been to, the animals all have lots of space and medical assistance is on hand. Taken out of their natural habitat is sad in a way, but without these facilities, it would take a lot longer to study them and learn about them… and for many people, they may never otherwise get to see them.

  13. I seem to remember a school trip there once where we robbed the shop blind, most of us didn’t even want the souvenirs but it was just so easy.

  14. sheila says:

    Hi,

    I am currently a final year student at the University of Bradford studying media studies and digital imaging.

    I am writing to you in order to request permission to use an image from your site for my final year project.

    (IMAGE: Elephant)

    My project is to design a flash based website directory for attractions around the UK for students; your image will be used on one of the pages on the site. However, my website will not be live nor will it be made live in the future. To take these images myself will be very time consuming as there will be many places to visit, therefore, by copyright law I am required to get permission for anything that is not mine.

    This email and your response will be recorded in my final report to prove to my examiners that I have not plagiarised any sources.

    I would appreciate it if you could respond to this email as soon as possible and I would be happy to answer any questions, if any.

    Regards

    S. Kheradmand

    P.S. Im sorry to have to leave this as a comment

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