Thursday, December 18, 2008

Zoos - good or evil?

I spent last Saturday afternoon at Edinburgh zoo with the boy. I'm always really conflicted with zoos - the thrill of seeing a wild animal like a polar bear against the sickening feeling that this beautiful creature is cooped up in such a small space for our entertainment - particularly pertinent for polar bears as they are known to adapt badly to captivity.

At Edinburgh, though, the conservation aspect to zoos really hit home. They have 2 Amur Leopards and there are only thought to be 50 in the wild. We also saw 3 Drill monkeys - there are only thought to be a couple of thousand out there in the world. And it went on...

So my assumption that these beasts would otherwise be roaming in an unspoilt wilderness doing their natural thing unmolested is somewhat fanciful - they are under serious threat from us out there and, if nothing else, zoos now represent a genetic library from which we may be able to re-establish populations. Add to that the educational aspect - the zoo was very good at pointing out exactly why these species are under threat.

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