As you may not know many animals that are kept at zoos are there to protect their species. Such as elephants, tigers and gorillas that are soon to be extinct, zoos opt into breeding programmes where animals from all over the world are matched and then go on to breed successfully. Without such breeding programmes some animals would not be here today.
Is it wrong to keep animals in cages?
Many would say yes as it is unnatural and many will go crazy being in such a small confined space for a long period of time. Others will say no, as in most cases it is preserving the species and saving them from extinction. The last time I went to a zoo it was Colchester Zoo and they had a baby hippo in what I would call a giant glass box with a waterfall in the background. It was far too small for him and all the visitors gawping at him made him so uncomfortable that he stood in a corner. He hated it; it made me sad to see him like that. I vowed never to go to a zoo again.
There have been many stories this year about animals that attack their keepers, the most recent being and elephant from Ohio who had attacked his keeper he knew from birth. Some keepers think that if they know the animals from birth that they will grow up knowing who they are and will not harm them. This is not true, many keepers know their zoo residents from birth but when they reach a certain age they act like they would in the wild. Louie the elephant from Ohio apparently was playing with his keeper, but when you look at the footage it shows him doing what is completely natural if he was in his natural habitat.
The same goes for Zion Wildlife Park in New Zealand, last year a keeper was mauled to death by one of the large cats. It just goes to show that keeping animals caged up is unnatural and somewhere down the line they will turn on you. Unfortunately you can’t win but I would prefer animals that are endangered to have thousands of acres of land that they could roam free and be what they are. There are a few in Africa due to the vast land that they have but here in England it would be too expensive to buy and run as it would need regular donations and sponsors.
We shouldn’t be encouraging zoos to keep animals caged up so don’t fall for ‘sponsor an animal today’ scheme as this is just giving them fuel to keep their zoo open and profit from animals that are in cages.
Polar bears are the largest carnivorous animals alive being about 2.5-3m in height and weighing about 400-800kg; the females are about half that size. They are found mainly in the Arctic area and in the surrounding landmasses namely Norway, Greenland, Canada, Alaska and Russia. They are closely related to the brown bears that are located in warmer places and as such these polar bears have evolved a special set of characteristics to live in the cold climate (the temperature can drop as low as -45°C) such as thick fur to withstand the cold with a thick blubber layer and being white in colour to be concealed in the snow. They prey mainly on ringed seals found in the area but can also go for eggs, birds and whales.
The loss of polar bears has always been an alarming issue. People have hunted these animals in the past for food, clothing and cultural matters. In the 1500s, overhunting became a major factor in the decline of the bears’ population; coupled with technology, it then became a flourishing business in the 1970s. In this respect, a law was passed in 1973 to halter bear hunting using aircrafts and motorized means. In many countries such as Alaska and Canada, bear hunting is regulated. Some people however do keep to their habits because of traditional beliefs.
Other imminent factors to the decline of the polar bears include intraspecific (between the bears) competition for food and mates; males fighting with females over the cubs’ protection; diseases, the most potent one being the Trichinella roundworm (that lives on the seals and is transferred during feeding which can eventually lead to death of the bears); pollution carried via water and air (when they ingest toxic foodstuff) but most lethal these days is the environmental change that is occurring as a result of climate change.
As a matter of fact, polar bears depend on the sea ice as a bridge to the seals or to cross channels to their homes or find mates. The increasing temperature is causing the ice sheets to melt which then removes the transportation means of the bears. Many of the animals have been found to die of starvation because of the inaccessibility to their food sources. Moreover, more polar bears are seen to wander on land rather than the sea because of the retreating ice areas. In many regions, the dens where the females give birth and look after the youngs are melting and these animals could be subject to secondary effects of climate change as forest fires. In other cases, lack of mates has resulted in females failing to impregnate which further reduces the population size. While studies have shown that it is mostly the new borns, sub adults and older bears that are more at risk to this shift in temperature as compared to the more mature bears, the risk that global warming poses to the polar bears cannot be regarded as minimal since scientists have also proclaimed the polar bears to be “threatened” because of climate change.
In 30 years, the polar ice cap has melted by 20% which is quite alarming because if the present rate continues, the Arctic region will be ice free in 150 years. This will not impact the polar bears only but the other animals adapted to live in the region as well like the ringed seals and the walruses, native people would be devastated and the resulting sea level rise would have worldwide repercussions.
The tiger is the largest cat species. There are many subspecies of tigers, the largest of the subspecies being the Siberian tiger.
Three subspecies that are already extinct are: the Bali tiger, Javan tiger and Caspian tiger.
The Amoy tiger from South China is believed to also be extinct; there hasn’t been a sighting for over 25 years.
What remain of the subspecies of tiger are:
- The Siberian tiger (amur) with fewer than 400 left in the wild.
- The Indo-Chinese tiger with fewer than 1,785 left in the wild.
- The Sumatran tiger with fewer than 500 left in the wild.
- The Bengal (Indian) tiger with fewer than 4,556 left in the wild.
The subspecies that remain are in danger of poaching for their bones, skins and organs. Every part of a tiger is used for traditional Chinese medicines. Many body parts can be sold for thousands of pounds.There is an illegal trade out of India and Russia with the US the biggest source for providing medicines outside of Asia.
Tigers could be found in eastern Turkey to Far East Russia and south of Bali and Java. Now tigers can only be found in parts of India, South East Asia, Sumatra and a small number in China.
Tigers are being poached everyday; cubs often see their mother die in front of them and this can be very traumatic. They need help to make sure they can adapt in the wild and there are many sanctuaries that can do this with our help. They rely heavily on donations from goodwill.
We can help the dwindling population by adopting endangered tigers.
When doing this you will get a picture of the tiger you have chosen to adopt, a fact sheet and in some cases a cuddly toy. It is fast becoming a favourite present ideal for any occasion.
It will help pay vet bills and it will help cover the costs of feeding as tigers have very big appetites.
Young or old the donation you provide will go a long way and will be much appreciated.