In a zoo in Indonesia, two polar bears lay on a concrete floor trying to stay cool in the tropical heat. At the Alaska Zoo, an elephant named Maggie was confined to a 146 square meter (1600-square foot) barn during the winter. In a Canadian zoo’s $6 million dollar African complex an African Silverback sits among concrete trees and painted on murals. Author Rob Laidlaw writes that when visiting other zoos, great apes were living in exhibits that were less costly but more natural, with real trees, tall grasses and larger spaces. When you visit a zoo, do you ever wonder what it might be like for animals that live day after day in the same small enclosures?
Wild Animals in Captivity, a young adult title, makes a comparison between wild and natural animal settings and a series of poignant photos to ask us to consider what is best for the animal rather than what is best for the people who frequent the zoos.Wild Animals in Captivity explains that nearly every zoo keeps animals in exhibits that are far smaller than what the animals actually need. A study of elephant areas in British zoos found most were 1000 times smaller than their natural habitats. Wild polar bears sometimes travel 50-100 kilometres a day hunting for seals, but zoos confine them in spaces that are more than a million times smaller than their Arctic territory. Aside from inadequate space, most zoos neglect to provide places for animals to hide and rest, or provide necessary stimuli and opportunities to bond and interact with their own species.
A beautifully presented book for a younger audience that will gently help them to engage in the discussion of whether or not wild animals should be kept in captivity.
Wild Animals in Captivity helps us to understand not all zoos are created equally. And even though there are numerous zoos that are not adequately meeting animals’ needs, there are examples of progressive zoos that are able to provide ‘…a pleasant life for animals in a natural setting…’. Some examples include the Arizona-Sonara Desert Museum, Jersey Zoo, The China Bear Rescue Center and The Elephant Sanctuary.
A beautifully presented book for a younger audience that will gently help them to engage in the discussion of whether or not wild animals should be kept in captivity. School libraries would greatly benefit from the addition of Wild Animals in Captivity.
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Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside