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Zoo's, good or bad? November 14, 2004 9:00 AM

Hi to everybody, I receved this message from someone and i think we can have a good discussion about it. I copy and paste it without a name because i don't know if he/she wants to stay anonymous. I want to thank this person because i think it's good to think about what's good or bad in a zoo. What is a good or bad zoo? Greets Tamara hi, i know the rules and criteria but ..unfortunately or.. luckly ...i'm not a zoo-keeper. lucky..because i love nature wild and untamed and i never believe in captivity good condition.. and unfortunately... because there are so many untrained zoo-keepers who are abusing in their jobs with animals and we can not do much about it ( see recent tiger who is starved to death in turkish Zoo for attacking an untrained care-person). I hope that one day the Zoo 's will disapear and we will enjoy the beauty of nature in the wild..for my sadness this day is not so close. we have to take action and maintain the nature wild . Don't bring the wild near your home in Zoo only for your pleasure. The Zoo's have also some benefits: good and trained people who are instructing the visitors about importance of species , about the damage of illegal hunting for food&Zoo&inductry purpose for the future of most of the species, the work of so many organization for protecting and saving endangered species, reproduction programs for reintegrating the species in the natural wild habitat. very hard work and i congratulate you all for the efforts and faith. Your work...of those who care and put your heart in it... it's benefic for the future somehow,but i believe that deap inside your heart you'd rather do any another job if the Zoo are no longer needed because all animals are safe and nature conserved for future generation...and your help will not longer be needed because THE WORLD WILL BE PERFERCT THAT DAY. I'm confused because i watch the efforts of so many people and the indifferance of too many people. the balance is fragile and it's shaking .. the time is running short for some species and the help will come too late. I'm a very big supporter of big cats and fro this reason i volunteer in an african project fro protecting and monitoring this magnific creatures in 2005. Hope i'll learn more watching them behaiving natural in the wild and share my knowledges with others.. make them understand the importance of conservation and protection the species before they became endangered in their own disapearing habitat.  [ send green star]
Re: Zoo's good or bad November 14, 2004 11:32 AM

There's a differend between zoo's, i think the most of them are good for the animals and it has a function to educate people what live's on the wild. There are to many people that don't care because they have never seen a wild animal. I don't know how you call that in Englisch but in The Netherlands we say: far from our bed. In The Netherlands there's a law now for keeping animals before you can call it a good zoo. This law has rules for minimum accommodation and for example, Big Cat's must have water now so they can play and swim. When it would not be nessecary to keep zoo's i'll immediately quit, but unfortunately there are to less people that have respect for animals and care about them. I think there's a lot to do for zoo's to change this.  [ send green star]
good or bad November 14, 2004 4:04 PM

I know that some people don't agree with zoo's, but most of the people that think that way are very one sided people! They don't understand that because of the world that we live in today we have to have zoo's! We have destroyed just about all of there homes so that we can be happy! If we did not have zoo's then my grandchilden would not see half of the animals that I have seen, hell my kid's problem won't see some of them! So to the person who does not agree with zoo maybe you should get over ourself and think about the animals that zoo's save everyday, with the great breeding programs that we have all worked so hard for! Ok I agree that there are "zoo's" out there that make bad choices but don't think that all zoo's are that way. there are rules about how things are run and zoos have USDA checks so you really can't base your thoughs on some three world zoo!  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 14, 2004 4:28 PM

I realy have to agree with Lacey, if it were not for zoo's most of our animals would be long gone. I recently recived a book in the mail about a natural history museum, this place has many different animals that have been lost in the last 20 years or so. I feel realy bad when my kids say " Well, mom did you ever see one of these?" I have to teel them "no". Why?? because before we could get them in a protected area like a zoo to try to save them they were gone forever. I can't say I like the way ALL zoo's are ran but in the end like Lacey said, The USDA,and the AZA make the rules. It is up to us keepers to help make sure that things are done right. As far as untrained people, I realy am part for that, I have found that hands on is the best way to learn and to teach.If it were not for the possiblity for untrained persons to be employed in this job I would never have been able to make zookeeping my life. I am going to school for my degree,but I have learned so mush more on my job.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 November 14, 2004 8:20 PM

you people are great, you ' re devoted to your job as zoo-keepers , but as you know your number is very small. all of you are right from your point of view, you understand the importance of zoo's because you are trained and not just an ordinary visitor who enjoy seeing some captive animals and who doesn't see behind the scene: breeding programs; conservation projects, re-homing projects, the efforts to give to this animals a captivity comdition so close to their natural habitat. keep it up, spread the world and maybe one will be ..unemployed ...I'M JOKEING!!!  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Hands on or off training? November 16, 2004 4:50 AM

There are many accidents by hands on training with Elephants in zoo's. Each year, a few zoo-keepers arround the world died by this training method. I don't know much about it, i don't work with Elephants but is it a good training method? I believe you can learn a lot but is it worthed? I know the zoo were i work they train with the targed behind bars. (is it hands on or off?) When the Elephands have a bad day, they don't train them. The training is based on reward of good conduct. What is the training method at other zoo's?  [ send green star]
 November 16, 2004 5:29 PM

Hi At the park I work for most of the training is done by what ever works for that animal. We have used routine alot. Most of our animals respond very well. By this I mean that we (keepers) do the same thing about the time everyday. To get them to go in for the night they recive a treat inside. We let the animal to show us how they respond . Yes, all animals are just like humans in the fact that they have good days and bad days. Only with humans on a bad day "bitting someones head off " is just an expression. Also I have found that animals in captivity are just like pets at home they want to play. Make it fun (as mush as safty allows) and they respond well.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Stach R, Zoo picture's November 27, 2004 7:27 AM

Hi Stach, You told me about the zoo's at Romania and that you have some picture's, can you place them on this site? I don't know if you can but you can send them also to my e-mail so that i can try, maybe i have more possibility's as a host? Greet and thanks, Tamara  [ send green star]
zoos good or bad November 28, 2004 5:23 PM

Wow! a good topic.. I have to also agree with Lacey, I feel that there is a real catch 22. Because of what man has done to this planet and sadly, we have no choice in the matter to a certain degree. I feel if the Zoo truly has integrity, and houses animals that thrive in that environment, and make efforts to educate the public then it can be good. Granted there is abuse, as in the case of up here in Alaska at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage. There have been allocations of abuse with their Elephant, since Elephants do not thrive in cold climates. On one hand I believe it is bad they continue to house her there, and on another note they probably are attached to her, and their selfish love so to say ,prevents them from really doing the right thing on her behalf. I hope to see all zoos become more like Wildlife Parks and only house animals that will thrive in their country and or climate. I loved Australia since they had mostly Wildlife Parks and everyone was running free pretty much. I am even in a catch 22 as a Keeper at Raptor Center in Sitka.. These are injured/non-releasable Eagles, Owls, Hawks, Ravens etc.. Without us they have nowhere to go. We maintain natural Habitats according to our ecosystem here so I believe what Raptor Center does in good for the most part. They do train some birds as Ed-Birds to sit on a glove which is a way of allowing the public to view them easier. On another note, it is kind of weird-- sort of like a pet. Anyway, I just hope that more advocates come to the forefront, and help maintain the integrity within our Zoo system.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
zoo's good or bad November 29, 2004 2:36 AM

i also, agree that wild animals should be left freely in wild. but at the same time zoo's have got lot benits. they can used to educate our childrens. the important benifit is that we can introduce the extinct animals back in to the wild if we have the extinct animal in the zoo. he it is left us how best we can make used of the zoo. we people should fight against the ill treatedment of animals in the zoo's and make sure that animals live safely in the zoo's.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
double edge! May 16, 2005 4:44 PM

as much as i personally and strongly believe that all animals should be free, moreover we should not alter their habitat in anyway so they always have a place to live, i also believe that zoos can be good.. how is that? well i can never forget when my 4 yr old cousin first saw a photo of a giraffe! she decided it must have come from another planet! zoos can help us remember that we're not the only creatures on this planet. animals arent just pets, meat or pests! i imagine if there were no zoos, many ppl wouldnt think of all those creatures in the world that dont end up on our plates or r subservient or bother us by sabotaging our 'interests'  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Hands on or off training? September 08, 2005 1:26 PM

There may be many for or against argument in the topic hands-on and hands-off. Basically, there are some things which make hands-on important, where hands-off can never, ever "compete", and I think whatever the reason for the discussion, those points shuld not be forgotten. The social life of elephants are pretty much similair to humans: *There are no "matriarchs" in Zoos, like in wild, but the strongest female simply dominates the others. She might be gentle, good leader, or a bitch. *The present groups in Zoos are mostly mixed up individuals with origin from different zoos, or from the wild. Not always being the gentle creatures we want them to be, there may be alot of confliccts, and harrassments between elephants, as well as mobbing. * In this situation keepers in a hands-on situation compares the fact that theres no real leader, and may take the same role as a leader in kinder-garten. *Especially asian elephants need foot-care. This best performed in a hands-on situaion. In a Hands-off situation the elephants need to be tranquilized, whic is, especially with elephants a high risk, the statistics of outcome of elephant trnquisations are very different from other mammal species. *The unnatural environment in a zoo may be changed for an hour, if the elephants are trained to walk outside their enclosure. This may benefit their psychological and physiological health a lot, in just the same way, as when a dog is taken for walk outside the apartment. Regardless of arguments, those 3 points are vital, and important as a n explanation why major zoos still perform on-hand, though it is connected to safety risks, public critisism and high cost emplyment solutions. Simply because when possible with the animals, it is the best method. The trainig methods of hands-off by the way, is often used in a hands-on situation. The difference is that the keeper/trainer, takes a leading position within the group. This cn aonly be done with the elephants way of showing dominance, and may include physical power, if the elephant doesn not accpet to be dominated. In that situation, when a man is physically dominating an elephants, its good to think about what an older matriarch on the savann would do, with a younger cow who stars creating problems within the herd hierarchy. And the most important things: *Every year theres thousand of elephant keepers and trainers that doesnt die at all. * Every day theres elephants being trained, stimulated, washed, brushed, walked, etc, without major conflicts, and in a unique situation where keeper can actually benefit to the animals health in more or less the same way he or she would do i with a dog. Thats the reason why keepers are willing to take the risks: * Mostly its fantastic fu with those animals. *The relation with an elephants is very close to the hart. *The benefit the animals get from the system, make a kepper think he/she is ddoing something important. *99% of keepers/trainers are sincere, thinking persons who know how to read and write. They know the pros and against abt training. They also read books about elephants, and saw them on a safari, they understand the arguments of their critical "enemies". But they live in a extreme real situation, where they can never start to work in a way based on people abtstract illusions about elephants. The elephants hs their DNA, and the fact is that the whole on-hand work is based on that, something which can not be changed. My ten cents...  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 September 09, 2005 12:54 AM

oke you talk about hands on and hands off. but you also have protected contact. That is not the same as hands off! When i started working in the zoo with the elephants we were a hands off zoo for the elephants. I believe that is not a good methode of keeping elephants. You don't have acces to your animals and in a case of a pedicure or a other health treathening situation, you always have to tranquilize the animals. After one year i start working there, we changed to protected contact. I believe that that is a very good methode of keeping elephants in zoo's. If you have enough staff good trained keepers you can almost do the same as in a hands on situation. You can pedicure, you can make an ultra sound and you can draw blood. You can wash them and brush them just the same. Even you can train a mother with calf and do some pedicure. You just need good staff, time for learning the animals the system and good building facilities. That's just the same as in hands on i believe. It will take you a lot of time to train the animals, but they really like the training, it's an enrichement of their zoo life. It's all based on positive reinforcement. The animals will come in during the day just to be trained We do not have good family groups in zoo, YET. I believe that if we keep interfering in the social structure we will never get a family group. You can also do exercise in protected contact, and the postitive reinforcement, wil aslo change their psychological behaviour. So i agree with your three pionts in a hands on and hands off situation. But i think it is a different story with protected contact because we can do the same things as in a hands on stiuation even safer for the staff. We just recently were blessed by the birth of a young female calf. And we are washing it in a hands on situation and as much as i love doing that (because what's sweeter than a baby elephant) i still believe that we should change to a protected contact routine, and we will. Mabye then we will run in to some problems, but at this point i believe that we will over come the problems just as you will run in to problems in a hands on situation. Of course there are also good things in a hands on training, like interfering with the animals if they will start a fight or somethings like that. You can not do anything about that with your target stick and your sorry little apple i'm sure of that. But i still prefer protected contact at this point.  [ send green star]
Clearifying PC FC NC hands-off hands-on September 09, 2005 1:42 AM

Oh yes, sorry, glad for the correction, PC was refered to as hands-off in the past, therefore my mistake. Im not very happy about hands-on and hands-off terms. More common is to use PC (Protected contact) FC (free contact) and NC (No contact), followed by confined contact and restricted contact. Theres so many terms, and I wonder if they were develped by triners or by academics who wanted to systemize things. But yes, i agree with you, on some points. PC can be very fun also. I actually trained the african bull Pambo for PC in 1998, althugh I went into him throughout my time there, so I m not a 100% FC trainer. We had great fun fun together, and he trained me to do a lot of things I didnt knew, or could before. I believe he is still working very good. But if he would still have been in FC, he would have been much more stimulated. His world now is his paddock, and thats it. Compared to the females in Vienna Zoo which are brought on walks now and then. I dont agree with you, completely though. There´s some things you cn do, and some you cant. With PC, you, and the elephants are restricted to the elephant enclosure. And the footcare is more limited. An X-ray excaminatin is very difficult,and I would say an Ultra sound excamination in most cases impossible. You can fltten the soles of the elephants now and then, but when it comes to real problems, it will be difficult through bars. I once removed glass inches up in a an elephant foot, without sedation. The whole work took some 30 minutes when she was commanded to lie down on her side the whole time. had to cut open the area in order to locate all glass pieces, and it went good. Please note that Im not here, and now, tryig to make a which is better competition, just wanted to clearify the limts in PC (and of course hands-off) and why people bother to work in a FC situation. Theres no solution that covers all situation and topics though. But I think its imprtant to clearify the differences in concepts, and their effects. And why a majority of keepers/trainers try to work on-hand, in spite of the difficulties. Not because they are fond of hitting their elephants with sharp hooks, but they truly experience the values of hands-on, and its possibilities, which make th efforts, and the criticism, and the dangerous working situation, worth it. Which doesnt make PC bad, but more limited. What people doentseem to understand is that the training methods are rather similair, sice the part of dominating the animals, is actually not a training method, but an application of dominating an elephant that is already trained in order to gain leadership over such a powerful, violent and agressive animal an elephant is, compared to a goat or a dog. A small, but important difference. People sometimes see PC and FC s two different ends in a tunnel, as far from each other as possible. This is not true i think. I actually see it as a circle. If you have hands-off at noon (12.00) you have a full free contact at 06.00. At 15.00 you have a limited hands-on and at 09.00 a limited, undeveloped PC. So, regardless if its FC or PC, I think its important to work intensively, and do as much as you can. And to remmeber that PC reduces risks for keepers and elepants, but also possibilities.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 September 09, 2005 2:58 AM

i agree with that the training methodes are likely the same. I'am not against hands on, because you can use the hook in a gentle way in wich the elephants aren't hurt or beaten by it. We have a restraint chute in wich it is possible to make ultra sounds with the elephants, but the training takes a long time. I worked with Murugan, perhaps you knew him he was a famous bull in europe. When he started to develop foot problems, we could work on him for 1 hour at a time, and taken whole nails of. We just had trained him for about 2 months in PC(before that he was hands of for 40 years). He was really remarkeble and was friendly during the whole procedure, while it was really painfull for him. We also made x rays of his feet(other body parts are difficulter). So you can achive that also in PC. But we also had a female and she wasn't so cooperative that we could do footwork on her when she had a problem, so yes we had to tranquilize her to work on her feet. But she wasn't also trained voor almost 40 years, when we started pc. I believe in pc you have to have to the cooperation of your elephants or else you are really lost. But that is also the challenge, to get that great connection with your animals. We have very cooperative animals, that when even our female thong tai was giving birth we did rectal stinulation in pc just because she offerd herself to us! That was so great! I'm not afraid of elephants, but i think protected contact fits me better.I like working in pc and our elephants are doing fine in pc. Both systems have their pro and cons, so there is no better system i believe the best system is the one that fits the best in your situation, institution and elephants. And yes you are safer in pc but not safe!  [ send green star]
PC vs FC September 09, 2005 6:52 AM

Im glad we can agree on many things. Why I debate this, is not because the two of us may share, or not share opinions, but I see it as important that others with less insight gets a broader picture of this subject, since there is development in europe for PC. Once again, Im not against that, but such decisisons should be made based on each zoos free choice, and logically in concearnfor each individual and each animal. The risk now, is that some zoos just simply change method drastically, in order to please the public, although they may be aware of that some indivuals may suffer, and thats very wrong? Secondly, its important to keep open discussions in order to inform people more, because the public is like man itself in our ways of functioning, they have a lot of power, and can change things, even when they lack knowledge and experience, using the concept of democracy, while actully working against it. Thirdly, some zoos may believe its easier to keep elephants in PC, which is also wrong, its very complicated, and the work need even more time, manpower, planning and competence. All those things may be neglected, and we may see a movement initiated by welfare people, or zoo directors, lacking personal insigth and competence in the issues. Nothing can be worse, and a lot of animals may suffer for no reason other than its possible to put a nice lable on the elephant management, "now we never dominate them anymore". Sounds good for politicians and welfare groups, but bad for individuals in need of strong medical, and psycological support in FC situations. Europe is full of old elephants with artitis problems, living in social groups where they harassed by other females, and bred without having family units and aunts around them. In the future, when maybe one day, true family nits will be established in the zoos, there might be possible to drastically change to PC as a general choice. But before that, its important to make people understand tht PC environemnt is like tking children to a kindergarten and leave them there, with each other, withaout having anyone attanding them. And never really check if the children feel good or bad, becasue they SHOULD feel good, when noone controls them anymore. We mste be prepared to take resonsibilty for all those elephants who need FC, throughout their lifes, even if tis difficult, and gives less public appreciation. Until they die. Finally, I have started to question all old statitics of killed elephant keepers. Not that didnt die, or was killed by elephant, or had sever accidents, but so was also (off-hand) tiger keepers, ape keepers, ostrich keepers, milk farmers, horse riders, etc. Imagine a poll of how many horse riders died the last five years in europe. Would that be an argument to make a law that all horse should be cared for through bars, in a protected contact situation?  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
PC vs FC September 09, 2005 7:00 AM

To be clear: I dont discuss for or against PC/FC. Im trying to make it clear that both systems has pros and againts, and the most important thing is to remain in a situation where (Hopefully the keepers/trainers themselves) has a free choice.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 September 14, 2005 6:05 AM

Dan, Natalie.. this has been very informative (for a non zoo keeper) thanks!  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Zoo's, good or bad? January 22, 2008 3:38 PM

i lean towards both ways! i am trying to write a paper for english and you guys have made it so hard to chose one side! HELP! i have to chose a side! I do belive that scientists could definitly learn more if the animal was in it's natural environment. however animals that are endangered need to be protected from pochers and many other people that are not animal lovers. When i get older i want to start a tiger refugee. i would let people see them but not interact with them! but the only qusetion i have is could tigers (anykind) live in the climate of the U.S. and if so what state would be the best? Also what would be needed to keep them health, happy, and safe? i need to know these answers soon! i still have no clues to what side to chose! but i guess it's a good thing! i do beliece that ALL zoos should be turned into refugees! But in some states that could be an issue! i live in Michigan and the zoos here are horrible and very run down and i believe these zoos should be shut down because our state supposabley dosn't have alot of money! but what ever. i beleve that there should be a fund towards all zoos all over the world so that mabe one day all zoos can be turned into a refugee that actually have well trainded zoo-keepers and nice habitats that are big enough for animals to roam around in. Over the summer my family and I went to virginia and they had a zoo called a drive-thru zoo! it was so nicely put together. i don't know if any of you have ever been to one so here how it was. they had feed that people could feed to the animals. But in the brochure and the rules book (which you had to go through before you went in) was a list of animals that couldn't be feed the grain because it was not helthy for them. They had about three mabe for differnt parts to the drive thru zoo. There were deer, elk, bision, ostrige (speling), potbellied pigs, zebra, yaks, water buffolo, camels, lamas, and many, many other animals but i can't remember all of them. Then in other parts of the zoos were animals that were in cages. But the cages were so big. There were around four or five dirrerent monkeys. A bird cage that you could walk into and had about 100 different birds in it! A huge girraffe enclosure that had about six girraffes in it that you could feed and pet. They had some other enclosure but i can't remember them either. They were also getting tigers and had already built a cage for them which wasn't really a cage beacuse it was huge and had a house porbably for at night but was like a pole barn. It had trees and a water hole for them too. But of couse my favotie animals weren't there for me to learn about and see how they acted in a smaller environment. I believe that if zoos can't be made into a refugee they should be made into a drive-tru zoo! that was the best learning environment to be in. Because you got to see how each reacted with other animals and how they reacted with people. even though we were in a ford 350 diesal which is super loud they all reacted the same and still came up to the car as if we were there all the time. I think that of you should try to help make zoos a better place for animals. I also believe that all zoo-keepers should have to go to college and take speacial courses to become a zoo-keeper. Just like a doctor or a veternarian has to! but not as mant years! well thank you for your time and i will back on this site later this week! If you read this than plase consider all of my words and all of my opinions. Well i'm going to go write my persuasive paper on why zoos are a ........ GOOD place for animals but could use a little help in what kind of environments the animals should be in! Thenks to all of you! You helped me make up my mind! i now now that zoos are good! THANKS TO ALL OF YOU ZOO KEEPERS! AND PLEASE TYPE WRITE WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT STARTING A REFUGEE IN THE USA AND WHERE YOU THINK A GOOD PLACE WOUL BE TO START ONE!  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
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