You might know Juliette West from previous peta2 blogs and most recently from Elephant Awareness Day in Los Angeles! Like most of us, Juliette once believed that zoos and aquariums were great places to see and interact with animals, but there’s a lot lurking beneath the surface that you might not know. Here are Juliette’s top facts about animals in captivity: Spread the word and speak up for animals trapped in zoos and aquariums. Take it away, Juliette!


Here’s the real deal: Most animals who are kept in captivity for the entertainment or “education” of the public are pretty miserable. They are denied many of the basic elements of their natural habitats, including proper climate, space, and food, just so that they can live in a convenient place for humans to view them. Many of these animals naturally live in herds or pods with many other members of their species, but in zoos and aquariums, they are often housed alone or with only a few companions.

This makes the animals feel lonely and can lead to unstable mental conditions. Animals such as chimpanzees require a lot of mental stimulation, and many develop what is known as stereotypic behavior when kept in captivity. Stereotypic behavior is a sign of mental distress, and animals in captivity often display this behavior because of stressful or unnatural conditions.

No wonder they’re pissed! Here is a list of the top 10 animals who are angry that they’re stuck in a zoo or an aquarium:

1. Elephants

Elephants need to walk up to 30 miles a day on soft earth and socialize with their entire family. They can’t walk this far or have many companions in a zoo because space is limited.

Ringling baby elephant training

2. Penguins

Penguins in Florida? That doesn’t look right! Many penguins suffer in aquariums that are located in climates that are way different from those in their natural habitats.

Penguins in tank
Photo by: uchongFlickrer98 | CC by 2.0 

3. Birds

Birds in zoos often have their wings clipped so that they can’t fly and can be easily managed. This is frustrating to the birds and causes psychological problems because it is just not natural.

Sad bird in zoo
Photo by: smerikal | CC by 2.0  

4. Big cats

Big cats, such as cheetahs and lions, hate living in zoos because they don’t have enough room to roam. In their natural habitats, they roam for miles each day, stalking prey. In zoos, they become bored and miserable and experience psychological problems as a result.

Lion Zoo
Photo by: skuds | CC by 2.0 

5. Polar bears

Polar bears suffer in zoos because they cannot roam vast territories like they would in their natural habitat. Also, many zoos don’t provide polar bears with real ice to live on, and concrete isn’t a great alternative.

Polar bear at zoo
Photo by: John Vetterli | CC by 2.0 

6. Chimpanzees

Chimpanzees are very intelligent animals and need to be mentally stimulated. Without the mental stimulation that they would get in the wild from foraging for food and socializing with other apes, their minds deteriorate to an unhealthy state.

Chimpanzee in zoo
Photo by: Michael Bentley | CC by 2.0 

7. Orcas

Orcas are big animals who like to swim in the deep ocean, but in aquariums, they are restricted to a space that, to them, is the size of a bathtub.

Nakai front injury picture
Orca Research Trust  

8. Dolphins

Dolphins kept in captivity have been found to live HALF as long as they would in the wild! This tells you how unnatural life in an aquarium is for these animals.
dolphins swimming

9. Gorillas

Gorillas develop more aggressive behavior when living in captivity because they feel so displaced and are denied the opportunity to fulfill their most basic needs.

Sad gorilla in captivity
Photo by: LaggedOnUser | CC by 2.0 

10. Giraffes

Giraffes hate living in zoos because not having natural earth to walk on, as they would in the wild, causes their hooves to become painfully overgrown.

Giraffe in captivity
Photo by: Nigel Swales | CC by 2.0 

Luckily, there’s a lot that YOU can do to help animals in captivity! Speak up about why zoos and aquariums are nothing more than animal prisons and NEVER buy a ticket to one of these places.

Juliette protesting ~ Juliette West for peta2