The main problem with taking an animal out of its natural environment and putting it into an artificial one is that the animal cannot carry out its natural behaviors.
As a result of boredom and lack of stimulation or enrichment, animals in zoos oversleep, overeat, and show signs of severe frustration and mental instability.
The term “zoochosis” refers to the psychological problems that affect animals in captivity; usually resulting in repetitive behaviors.
These behaviors include: pacing in regimented circles, bar biting, air biting, rocking, swaying, head bobbing, over grooming, and self mutilation.
Many of these behaviors are observed in humans suffering from mental illness, and are never observed in wild animals.
A study by Oxford University found that 40% of elephants in zoos display repetitive behaviors.
Wild elephants can live well into their 50’s, while captive elephants rarely make it into their 20’s. Arthritis and foot infections from standing on hard surfaces all day are the most common reasons why elephants are euthanized in zoos.
Many elephants in captivity suffer from obesity; caused by a lack of exercise and a lack of space to walk the long distances that they would walk in the wild.
Great apes (gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, and bonobos) also suffer serious mental illness in captivity.
Just like humans, orcas, and elephants, all species of great apes are highly intelligent, social, and self aware.
75% of primates held in captivity die within the first 20 months; many times due to depression and psychological problems.
Many zoos have resorted to heavily medicating apes with antipsychotic drugs like Haldol, and antidepressants and antianxiety medications like Zoloft and Prozac.