WANTED: HIDEOUT by Aries N. Oliveros
The Cambridge online dictionary defines hideout as a secret place where someone can go when the person does not want to be found by other people. I bet the same meaning caged animals – given rationality and free will – would have. Sometimes, seeing animals in a menagerie makes me think that humans have done so much cruelty to nature that we have imprisoned birds, elephants, lions, zebras, crocodiles, and monkeys in a place we call “managed shelter.”
I have never been a zoo-goer. When animals are placed in zoos, we rob them of their right to exist naturally. We rob them of their life because we prevent them from fulfilling basic needs like hunting, roaming, grazing, and developing their own social structure. Moreover, not all zoos are created equal. Some zoos do not have the ability or proper training to care for animals that keep or breed. Bad management can mean death. Reality does bite. This scenario can cause a thousand tears.
What stands between protection and extinction is not found in captivity. Putting animals in zoos for life is not the best way to save them from extinction. Their continued existence lies in protecting natural habitats, not in creating animal prisons.
Because of human encroachment, we have compromised animal’s natural habitat in the name of progress and development. According to a 2004 report by the World Conservation Union, the world’s biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate primarily because of human activities that cause pollution, climate change, and the destruction of animals’ habitats and because of the exploitation of animals for food, pet trade, and medicine.
It is never too late to rebuild what was damaged. Mankind has taken steps towards sustainability, and we must take bigger steps towards environmental protection. Let us give caged animals their natural hideout.