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8 WTF?! Facts About Animals in Captivity

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Posted June 23, 2015 by Diana Mendoza

It’s time to clear something up: Animals are NOT here to entertain us. They don’t want to do stupid tricks, live in tiny cages, be movie stars, or listen to you tap on the glass of their pathetic enclosures. They just DON’T. Animals exist for their own reasons. They want to live with their families, roam great distances, and enjoy a life without fear, pain, loneliness, and suffering—just like we do.

Here are eight facts that’ll change the way you think about animals in captivity:

1. Unhealthy Animals

All the captive adult male orcas at SeaWorld have a collapsed dorsal fin. 

peta2 sad orca at seaworld bored

This only rarely happens to wild orcas (only 1 percent!), and when their fins are abnormal in the wild, it’s usually a sign that they were injured!

2. Shorter Life Spans

According to a study commissioned by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, elephants in zoos live, on average, less than half as long than their wild counterparts.

Average life span in the wild: 56 years

Average life span in captivity: 16 years

NOT even close!

3. Broken Families

In the wild, chimpanzees don’t venture beyond 5 meters from their mothers until they reach 3 years of age. In captivity, newborns are often torn away from their mothers to be sold or exploited for photo ops.

In fact, the chimpanzee “grin” that’s often seen in movies and on TV shows is actually a grimace of fear. 🙁

4. Constant Boredom

Dolphins are considered the “Einsteins” of the animal world. They are keenly intelligent and can solve complex problems. They have distinct personalities and a strong sense of self and even think about the future.

SeaWorld takes advantage of their intelligence by training them to perform cheap “tricks.”

5. Nowhere to Go

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus boasts that its three units travel more than 25,000 miles as the circus tours the country for 11 months each year.

Caged-Tiger

Tigers and lions usually live and travel in cages that provide barely enough room for them to turn around, often with two big cats crammed into a single cage.

6. Pain and Neglect

Foot pad trauma—including thermal, chemical, and mechanical trauma—is common in bears who are unnaturally confined on hard, abrasive concrete. Inactivity from confinement also contributes to ulcerated paw pads.

bear-paw-injuries-zoo

Bear paws are adapted to tread on soft forest floors—rough concrete can wear down footpads and cause other problems.

7. Severe Stress

Swaying is considered a stereotypical sign of stress in captive animals.

Circus elephants swaying

Experts note that this repetitive, obsessive behavior is never seen in wild elephants.

8. Long Miserable Years

Unlike humans, no ape ever dreams of becoming a star on the big screen. To apes, performing is stressful, confusing, and often torturous. In order to force young apes to perform on cue, trainers often beat the animals with their fists, clubs, or even broom handles.

chimpanzee, Edith, sitting on a tire, looking very depressed

When they become too strong to control (usually around 8 years old), they’re often discarded to roadside zoos. Chimpanzees can live into their 60s, and orangutans can live into their 50s—so they might spend over 40 years in these filthy, pathetic prisons!

Pretty messed up, right?! Institutions are confining animals for profit, but together we can make captivity a thing of the past.

No chains. No cages. No tanks.

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