aNimAl wElfaRe FAQ's
Are zoo animals taken from their natural habitat?
No. It is a common misconception that all zoo animals have been collected from the 'wild' and their natural habitats. Only when a species is on the very brink of extinction is this considered, and as a last resort.
Are zoo animals going to be returned to the wild?
This is another major misconception held by the public. It is completely impractical and irresponsible to just 'release' animals from zoos back in to the wild. It can and has been done successfully, but can also end in complete disaster.
The process of releasing animals back in to natural habitat is a lot more complex that anti zoo 'activists' and propaganda make it out to be. Activists often claim that breeding programs are solely in place to produce cute baby animals which attract zoo visitors and generate revenue. It is also claimed that breeding programs sometimes result in a surplus of adult animals that may be “warehoused” behind the scenes or sent to shabby poorly run zoos. Not only is this untrue, but the people making these claims never acknowledge that breeding decisions take many factors into consideration, including government regulations, animal breeding history, loan agreements, habitat condition, conservation efforts, and political red tape, just to name a few. Further, for many species, it is impractical to consider releasing an animal back into a destroyed or threatened habitat. When safe habitat is secured, reintroduction may be an option, but until then, it is important for breeding programs, conservation programs, and education programs to all happen simultaneously and work together to form a great result. The release of some captive animals can be more complicated than others.
Are your animals'rescued'?
Generally, no. Zoos have strict collection plans to which they follow. The species kept are decided by a number of factors including breeding potential, research and training as well as educational purposes to name a few. Zoos simply do not have the space to continually take rescued animals as this takes away from their aim. Providing homes for 'rescues' is not aiding the conservation driven goals of many zoos and aquariums. There are exceptions to this however and many zoos also support dedicated rescue centers, normally in the animals home country.
We have one 'rescued' animal here at the centre - a striped skunk named 'Pepe', who was being kept in a rabbit cage in somebody's kitchen and fed a truly awful diet.
That animal looks bored, is it unhappy?
We work with our animals everyday and we know that they are happy, or as close to it as an animal can be. 'Happy' is a human emotion and as such science will never be able to come up with a way to determine whether an animal is 'happy' or not.
However, our keepers who work with our animals on a daily (and sometimes nightly) basis know individual behaviors and their personalities.
We love animals as much as you reading this, if not more. If we ever felt like the animals we care for were not happy or comfortable, we would need to make changes!
If you have any questions about this on they day of your visit, please find a keeper for a chat!
How can you ensure high welfare for your animals?
We continually manage and monitor our animals in relation to their welfare needs. This includes correct social grouping, veterinary care, preventative medicine, carefully designed enclosures - the list is endless!
We also make welfare assessments on a frequent basis and should their be an animal that has become ill or has an ongoing condition, we make quality of life assessments to make sure the animal in question is receiving the bet welfare possible.
How ethical is the HCC?
Very! We take the ethics of our animals very seriously, as does every other good zoo! We hold two ethical review meetings per year. The panel for these includes our director(s), keepers, managers, vets, and other people related to the animal industry as well as people who aren't.
Are your animals here purely for entertainment?
No. In actual fact, this couldn't be further from the truth. There are three major forms of zoological interaction programs that are interpreted as “entertainment” by anti-zoo groups. These are - animal demonstrations, animal encounters, and behind-the-scenes tours. All of these care about education, not entertainment. While they are certainly fun, they are also designed to teach guests about the animals in an engaging way and to inspire them to help species that they encounter by making small, everyday lifestyle changes, such as conserving resources, reusing, and recycling. Animal shows are essentially an open invitation for guests to watch an already-planned training session. While the theatrical shows, such as those with marine mammals will come to an end i some collections, the training sessions will continue as they are important for the animals’ physical and mental stimulation.
Animal encounters are a great way for a guest to get up close to an animal, whether it is feeding a porcupine or touching a cockroach, which creates a connection that can inspire a guest to make simple changes in their lifestyle that help animals in the wild.
Behind-the-scenes tours achieve a similar effect but through providing guests with special access to certain enclosures and with an understanding and appreciation of what animal care teams and trainer teams do on a daily basis.
Zoological facilities may very well be the last hope of survival for many species. These zoos and aquariums have already contributed to many conservation success stories, and will likely contribute to many more, as they house many species which are no longer found in the wild. Hopefully, in the future, species which are extinct in the wild can repopulate their natural habitats once they are secured. Anti-zoo propaganda does nothing but impede the efforts of zoos around the world. Be a part of the solution and continue to spread the truth about these wonderful facilities.
You're not able to re-create animals natural habitats, so surely you can't meet all of their needs?
Anti-zoo propaganda claims that zoo animals are deprived of everything natural and important to them, including roaming, foraging, choosing a mate, and being with others of their own kind.
However, based on research, animals that are managed scientifically in a zoological setting have the same opportunities as those in the wild, it is just a more structured lifestyle. Structure in a zoological setting is important for an animal’s biology and is done in time with their natural patterns, such as bringing animals into behind-the-scenes areas in the order of their social hierarchy as determined by the group and not by the trainers.
It is also important to note that adverse factors, such as pollution, disease, and habitat destruction, are eliminated from an animal’s habitat in human care. Anti-zoo propaganda uses emotional appeals to attempt to convince audiences that a natural habitat is better than a habitat in a zoological facility. They purposely fail to mention that an animal’s wild habitat is often shrinking due to deforestation, over fishing, or farming. They also fail to mention the impacts of humans and pollution. So to be fair, it could be said that in order to perfectly mimic an animal’s natural habitat, zoos would have to introduce plastic debris, dangerous forms of carbon pollution, a contaminated water source, and dangerous disease-causing pathogens. It is clear that zoos promote a great quality of life for their animals based on the research and experience that they have developed over many years.
For example, monkeys climb and use trees. They have a behavioural need to express in climbing. This need can be met by providing them with climbing frames and ropes etc. The objects don't have to look like a tree for the animals to be able to express natural and 'normal' behaviours.
You brand yourself as a 'conservation centre', so you must be better than a zoo?
It is actually all in a name. They are all exactly the same thing. Animals kept in captivity...for whatever purpose, or, however they got there.
There are a large number of absolutely pointless and irresponsible establishments that exist, that unfortunately people 'buy in to' because they label themselves as a "sanctuary". These will hold animals such as white tigers and other species which hold no conservation value what so ever.
Animals held in zoos are carefully and professionally managed for the long term survival of the species as a whole.
Anti zoo groups will play on the word 'sanctuary' to appeal to people who are unaware of the good work zoos do. Education is key and unfortunately, a person well educated about the purpose and running of good zoos is something that scares the un-educated anti-zoo groups.