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Should we say good-bye to zoos?

Perhaps, the lockdown is a signal to humanity to finally let go of the outdated concept

 
By Rajat Ghai
Last Updated: Tuesday 21 April 2020
Should we say good-bye to zoos
Perhaps now, we might be able to think about those poor animals whom we cage in those modern prisons call “zoos” for our recreation and education. (Image credit: iStock) Perhaps now, we might be able to think about those poor animals whom we cage in those modern prisons call “zoos” for our recreation and education. (Image credit: iStock)

For most of us, the lockdown imposed by the government in the wake of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is turning out to be exactly what we feared: imprisonment. Day after day of sitting at your home, doing work, eating and sleeping, but not being able to go out except to the neighbourhood store to buy groceries and other essentials. A feeling of being caged.

Cage. Right. That is the word. We all are feeling as if we are in a cage made of cement, concrete, wood and metal. No means of escape. Worst of all, it means we will not get to experience the delights of summer, however brutal it eventually is. Going out with friends, watching a movie, even having an ice cream is now a novelty for us.

Perhaps now, we might be able to think about those poor animals whom we cage in those modern prisons called “zoos” for our recreation and education.

How must they feel? When we can’t even tolerate a few weeks in the comfort of our homes, how can we leave them exposed to the cruelty of spending their entire lives inside a prison fashionably termed as a zoo?

In case of our current "internment", we, who are from reasonably well-to-do sections of society, have all modern amenities with us. We can surf the internet at reasonably good speed and thanks to the various e-commerce companies, we can even get food and medicines at our doorstep.

But think about our unfortunate brethren who cannot enjoy the benefits of such services. There are fears being expressed that the poor of India will starve due to the shortages unleashed by this pandemic.

But the poor are very low priority for all of us, which includes the government. And the animals in zoos? Well, in a country where humans are not looked after properly, what to say about animals?

India’s zoos are notorious for not treating their exhibits properly. Proper food, medicine and medical care are usually not forthcoming. In many cases, the staff is engaged in clandestine illegal trade in animal parts. One wonders what must the animals in the zoos around the world be experiencing right now, with lockdown imposed across the country and the world?

Perhaps, the lockdown is a signal to humanity to finally let go of this outdated concept of zoos. Indeed, there have been instances of even criminals being granted amnesty in certain countries due to the lockdown. When we can do that, why can’t we think of giving freedom to blameless animals who have committed no crime but are still held against their will for our recreation and education? Food for thought?

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