According to Merriam Webster, captivity is the state of being “kept within bounds” or “confined”. Zoos all around the world are constantly capturing animals and taking them from their natural habitats. Once they acquire these animals, they place them into captivity by locking them up in cages and behind fences. Although some of the animals are taken for research, most of them are captured to be put on display for public entertainment.
The National Park Zoo of Washington D.C. serves as a preserve for its animals, rather than a showcase. Zoos should be more like the National Park Zoo in protecting their animals, instead of harming their animals in captivity.
In 2003, 11 endangered African elephants were taken by the San Diego Animal Park from their home, Swaziland. “Experts, scientists, and researchers who study elephants in the wild strongly opposed the capture, stating, ‘Taking elephants from the wild is not only traumatic for them, it is also detrimental to their health'” (PETA).
Zoo animals are often prevented from using their most important skills, causing them to lose or weaken their ability to do those things. An example of this is when a lion cub is in captivity and never learns to hunt for its own food because it is always being fed by the keepers.
Animals are often confined in small exhibits, where they do not get much freedom to do things such as run or fly. They are usually bored, lonely, and cramped in captivity, harming them mentally and physically. Captivity allows for people to interfere with the animals, causing unusual behavior or actions. There have been multiple cases in the past 10 years where a human would interfere with an animal, causing the animal to be hurt or killed.
According to PETA, a gorilla named Jabari tried to escape from the Dallas Zoo, but was quickly shot by police. A witness later reported that teenagers were taunting the animal with rocks prior to his escape. Animals are often kept alone or in pairs, unlike their natural environment of living in a herd.
All of these living conditions of captivity can result in “abnormal and self-destructive behavior, known as ‘zoochosis'” (PETA). Many studies have been done to show these psychological changes and increasing number of problems with captivity in zoos.