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Enough With the Zoos Already

After the death of a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo last week, a heated debate has begun. Harambe the gorilla was shot and killed by zoo workers after a 4-year-old boy fell into the gorilla enclosure.

There has been outrage towards the parents of the boy, and outrage towards the zoo and their decision to shoot Harambe. Right-Wing Media has expressed outrage that people are outraged, reminding us of the amount of abortions that take place in this country every day.

What does abortion have to do with a dead gorilla? Absolutely nothing, but as Christians with God’s infinite capacity to love, we couldn’t possibly have enough love in our hearts to care about abortion AND the death of Harambe (insert winky face emoji here).

It has been debated whether or not Harambe acted aggressively or if he would have harmed the boy if he hadn’t been shot. Harambe’s lowland gorilla relatives in Africa are fully approachable by humans in the wild, but life for a gorilla in captivity is a lot different.

Because primates like Harambe are self-aware and highly intelligent, they suffer greatly in captivity. They display symptoms of zoochosis (the psychological problems that affect animals in captivity). These behaviors include pacing in regimented circles, bar biting, air biting, rocking, swaying, head bobbing, over grooming, and self mutilation.

Zoos have resorted to heavily medicating apes with antipsychotic drugs like Haldol, and antidepressants and antianxiety medications like Zoloft and Prozac. Close to 75% of primates held in captivity die within the first 20 months; many times due to depression and psychological problems.

The death of this critically endangered animal was senseless. So was the death of his mother and brother at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville Texas in 2002. Three gorillas were gassed to death in their enclosure because a plastic chlorine container was kept too close to a heater.

The age-old defense that zoos educate and inspire people to want to save animals in their natural habitat simply isn’t true. Close to 800 lowland gorillas can be found in zoos all over the world, yet the gorilla population in Africa is critically endangered. Some of the gorillas currently in zoos were acquired by poachers; furthering the plight of gorillas in the wild.

According to a database kept by Born Free USA, there have been 33 human deaths and 224 injuries at zoos and aquariums in the U.S. since 1990.

Animal welfare aside, human welfare should be a top concern for Christians. These human deaths, casualties of keeping animals in captivity are easily avoidable. The bottom line is that these deaths and injuries would not occur if people did not buy tickets to zoos and marine parks.

Zoos are outdated and serve no real purpose in modern society. The next time you want your children to get some exposure to nature, put on a David Attenborough documentary. The drugged and tormented animals kept in captivity are not the example of creation that God intended.

Skip the zoo next time and consider donating the entry fee to help preserve animal populations in the wild. In honor of Harambe, consider donating to support the lowland gorilla preserve in Virunga National Park HERE.

For more information on how to help animals, CLICK HERE.

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