I found this on one of the blogs I read. She finds a way to laugh about everyday things. I started following her because I thought it would help me feel less serious. Clearly, it hasn’t worked. I would give her a pingback, but I think she would be horrified if she knew someone like me was reading. This is kind of serious, but not as serious as the stuff I’m usually writing about. It’s a nice break, for me at least.

A is for age: 19. The first time.

B is for breakfast today: Muffins and apples.

C is for currently craving: Nothing, right now which is so rare. It must be a miracle. Usually my craving is chocolate, but lately it has been taken over by meat. After I watched Food Inc. I made a decision not to eat meat at restaurants. At first it wasn’t so bad because the restaurants (we eat out like twice a week usually) had a good no meat option, but lately we’ve been eating at a lot of them that don’t. It’s a lot harder to go to certain places that have my favorite meat centered meal, but not a good substitute or not a good one at all. My mom got ‘organic’ meat or what we pray and hope to be organic (who really knows these days) and we have cut back. When I do crave meat, it’s not the sweet and innocent kind, but the tortured horrible meat from places like Taco Bell and Buffalo Wild Wings. These are all places that I had a favorite meal centered on the meat and I miss it like mad right now. I may break down and eat something like once a month because not having the hope at all is torture. Then I think of how selfish it is to say that when the cows are really being tortured. Oi. This is going to a long day.

D is for dinner tonight: I don’t know, yet.

E is for favorite type of exercise: I don’t really care for exercise. I do it a few times a week, at least, but I can’t say that I really like it. I like I would like running more, but I’m not really in good enough shape to really enjoy it.

F is for an irrational fear: It depends on what you call irrational. All my fears (I have quite a lot), spiders, a torturous death, not having any meaning in my life, etc, seem pretty rational, but you know.

G is for gross food: Just a few months before all this environmental stuff, I started getting into eating healthy food. My mom had tried for years to get me and my dad on that train, but it just crashed and burned. I crashed it, no denial. But I wanted to lose a little weight and I knew that to do that I had to eat healthier and also I was getting bored with my chicken and potatoes. I started branching out. I almost like cucumbers (which made me gag before), squash, zucchini, avocado. All these things that I hated before, but my mom has also cooks them differently now, I’m pretty sure. I would have to say that olives, black and green, are the ones that even the smell makes me want to throw up.

H is for hometown: I’ll tell you that I live in Oklahoma. That is all I will say. I live in a small town and you could easily find me and kill me.

I is for something important: Making your life mean something. I strongly and probably wrongly believe that the only reason humans should be here is so they can make the world a better place. Not just taking care of the earth, but takeing care of other people. If they’re not doing that then the planet should destroy us.

J is for current favorite jam: Grape? Or alternative and some 90’s rock?

K is for kids: Melody, Harmony. Cheerio is split into thirds. Mystique and Mr. T are either my step kids or my siblings. You’ll have to ask my parents about that. Maybe some dogs, hopefully someday, but no kids. The world is screwed up enough and already over-populated enough and will continue to get worse. I’d rather not be a part of that.

L is for current location: My room in I’m still not telling you where.

M is for the most recent way you spent money: Gasoline. I hardly buy anything.

N is for something you need: I really don’t feel like I need anything. I’ve got pretty much everything I want and need for the moment.

O is for occupation: Full-time student. Occasional article writer for the local paper.

P is for pet peeve: Oh my. This could take a while. I hate it when people don’t follow driving rules, but I think my biggest one is probably that people aren’t willing to give up convenience, comfort, or something of that nature to make something right. When people think they ‘need’ something or someone. I could thousands of them. And also when I have to rely on other people to do their job before I can do mine. That is why I love blogging. I rely on no one. Except for the people who read it. Thanks guys, you really are the best.

Q is for a quote: I love quotes, I could list thousands of them, but I don’t think people would really appreciate that, so I’ll try to narrow them down.

Both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society. The optimists invent the airplane, the pessimist the parachute. – G.B. Stern. It’s not a particularly deep quote, but anytime people have something to say about how my negativity, I quote this back to them.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble makers. The ones who see things differently. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify them, or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. The push the human race forward and while some see them as crazy, I see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do. –Jack Kerouac

The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but those who watch them without doing anything. – Albert Einstein

Thou shall not be a victim. Thou shall not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shall not be a bystander. –Holocaust Museum Hall

R is for random fact about you: I just officially passed my statistics class. Hopefully I’ll never have to touch another math book ever again.

S is for favorite healthy snack: I was going to say chocolate because it helps me breathe better and as far as I am concerned, breathing a pretty healthy thing. But I’m pretty sure I’m addicted to it and addictions are not healthy. I’m not going to lie. I really don’t care for healthy food. I eat it because it’s good for the environment and I don’t want to be another statistic for obesity, but I really don’t care for it. The sweets that my mom makes are pretty amazing and healthy compared to processed sweets. Does that count? If not, then I’m pretty sure her homemade granola bars would be considered healthy. They’re freaking fantabulous. I’ll have to come up with an awesome word just for them.

T is for favorite treat: My mom’s granola bars, cookie dough and…chocolate.

U is for something that makes you unique: I really struggled with this for the past few years. I’ve pretty much average, at best, in everything. Looks, intelligence, the one thing that I have that none of my friends or family has is a love of writing and books to some degree, but I’m an average writer, too. I never really have anything to talk about, but I never run out of things to write about (obviously).  I think the things that I like make me kind of unique. I like cats and dogs, but pretty much everyone I know hates cats. I love to argue. I can argue about just about anything with anyone and I have a comeback for everything. No one will argue with me anymore because they’re tired of it. They find it exhausting. And I like research papers and learning new things, but not usually in a school setting. I love snakes, lizards, and turtles, geckos. I love animals in general. None of these really make me unique by themselves, though.

V is for favorite vegetable: Asparagus. And only if it’s roasted and a little crispy. And mushrooms, but I don’t think those are counted as a vegetables.

W is for today’s workout: Picking up Harmony. I’ll be going to workout class tonight, but I really haven’t anything yet.

X is for X-rays you’ve had: I think back in kindergarten or something I got an x-ray and sometime in 8th grade or so I definitely had one. The one in 8th grade was for my right hand. The other one was for one of my hands.

Y is for yesterday’s highlight: There was nothing particularly exciting yesterday except that I was getting lost in the ghetto in my new car and I thought I was going to die. That wasn’t really a highlight, though.

Z is for your time zone: Central.

Well, these are my ABC’s, what’s yours?

Alternative Energy: Wind Power 2

Yesterday, I wrote about the basics of wind energy and the one, but very important pro. There are a lot of arguments against wind energy, some a little harder to fix than the others, but there isn’t anything that doesn’t seem fixable. So today, I’ll go through them and tell whether or not they are real concerns or just a bunch of nonsense. Most of this is opinions, I found studies to support some, so give it whatever weight you want. If you have been considering whether wind energy is a good way to go then maybe these will help you out.

Cost Issues

Even though the cost of wind power has decreased dramatically in the past 10 years, the technology requires a higher initial investment than fossil-fueled generators. Roughly 80% of the cost is the machinery, with the balance being site preparation and installation. If wind generating systems are compared with fossil-fueled systems on a “life-cycle” cost basis (counting fuel and operating expenses for the life of the generator), however, wind costs are much more competitive with other generating technologies because there is no fuel to purchase and minimal operating expenses.

As time goes on and they become more popular this might change. They’ll probably never be ‘cheap’, but less expensive.

Supply and Transport Issues

The major challenge to using wind as a source of power is that it is intermittent and does not always blow when electricity is needed. Wind cannot be stored (although wind-generated electricity can be stored, if batteries are used), and not all winds can be harnessed to meet the timing of electricity demands. Further, good wind sites are often located in remote locations far from areas of electric power demand (such as cities). Finally, wind resource development may compete with other uses for the land, and those alternative uses may be more highly valued than electricity generation. However, wind turbines can be located on land that is also used for grazing or even farming.

For the supply issue, I think that back-up generators could be used. Or, you know, heaven forbid, we could stop using so much.

For the land issue, we don’t need as much meat as we’re eating, yet we continue to waste and ruin the land to do it. If we are willing to do that, then we shouldn’t have a problem with using the land for something that will actually benefit us now and in the future. Since most of the cows for the meat industry are grain and corn fed, we raise additional grains to feed them (which is way more than people probably realize.) If we cut down on our meat consumption or eat ‘organic’, we would cut down on the land we need for grain and thereby having extra land, already deforested land, leftover to use for this. As I have not finished studying all these renewable energy resources, at this time I feel like windmills could be a waste of space, but I also tend to think humans and buildings needed to house humans, as a general rule are a waste of space. All we do is destroy. I’m keeping my mind open, keeping in my mind that it gives a pro condition that is hard to replicate. I will also say that if we didn’t need to consume so much then we would need to dedicate a lot less time and resources to these kinds of issues. We’ll have to take what we can get.

Environmental Concerns

Although wind power plants have relatively little impact on the environment compared to fossil fuel power plants, there is some concern over the noise produced by the rotor blades, aesthetic (visual) impacts, and birds and bats having been killed by flying into the rotors (Whoever these people are, I hope they’re not driving or have houses, or windows or just plain existing because all those cause the same problems. I will be coming back to topic to plead my case momentarily).

Wind turbines do have negative impacts on the environment, but the negative impacts have to be balanced with our need for electricity and the overall lower environmental impact of using wind for energy relative to other sources to make electricity.

Modern wind turbines are very large machines, and some people do not like their visual impact on the landscape. A few wind turbines have caught on fire, and some have leaked lubricating fluids, though this is relatively rare. Some people do not like the sound that wind turbine blades make (I’ll try very hard not interject a rude comment here).

Most wind power projects on land also require service roads that add to their physical impact on the environment. Making the metals and other materials in wind turbines and the concrete for their foundations requires the use of energy, which may be from fossil fuels. Some studies have shown that wind turbines produce much more clean electricity over their operating life than the equivalent amount of energy used to make and install them.

Some types of wind turbines and wind projects cause bird and bat deaths. BUT, there is a huge but, other human actions make a more negative impact.

Two general types of local impacts to birds have been demonstrated at existing wind facilities: (1) direct mortality from collisions and (2) indirect impacts from avoidance of an area, habitat disruption, reduced nesting/breeding density, habitat abandonment, loss of refugia, habitat unsuitability, and behavioral effects (Stewart et al. 2004, 2007). For bats, only direct mortality resulting from collisions and barotrauma (i.e., experiencing rapid pressure changes that cause severe internal organ damage; Baerwald et al. 2008) has been demonstrated.

The numbers, I found anywhere from 10,000 to 440,000 so who knows,  are thought to be so big because the wind currents most beneficial for producing wind energy also happen to be the ones that billions of birds use to migrate across the US.

There are many different variables that contribute to the number of deaths of birds and bats due to wind turbines, but here is a link that can give you a pretty good idea –

I hate that these small things that people try to do to get us to a better, cleaner place are always turned around to look like something that they’re not. If people really think that these wind turbines are our largest problem when it comes to world and bird population then are so sadly mistaken. Everyone who reads this blog knows that I’m a huge animal lover. I’m not saying that these deaths are insignificant because they’re not. Birds, like bees, are like the canaries of the coal mines. We really do NEED them. They help pollinate to some degree, we need them for other things like insect control, but their deaths tell us that there is a huge problem. But some aren’t dying from that problem; some are dying simply because we’re putting obstacles in their way that they can’t overcome. Unnecessary things that we do every day causes a lot more harm to these birds that wind turbines do.

One BILLION birds are killed because they hit windows of vehicles or buildings.

Recently, I was sitting at a stoplight, luckily, and this bird came flying into my windshield. It was chasing a bug, but man it scared the crap out of me. It was so determined and focused on getting that bug, it wasn’t paying attention. Had I been moving, I probably would have killed it. As I watched the determined, little devil chasing with all its heart to get the bug, I had to smile. I was just thankful that I was waiting at a stupid light and no body killed it. Before when I wrote that for a different post, I couldn’t actually believe that that many birds are killed by flying into window, but now I believe it. That bird hit my window hard. I’m surprised it’s not cracked.

Some people’s problem with the windmills isn’t just how many birds it kills, but what kind of birds it kills. One Eagle and other higher flying, endangered species are different than hundreds of pigeons. Yeah, that’s a problem, but it’s something that we have to keep on working on. We’re all going to be dead, if we don’t do something. And most of those birds wouldn’t be endangered if we had smartened up and stopped poaching them or killing them with pesticides, litter or destroying their homes. It sucks and windmills are a problem for them, but it’s not the only problem. If we’re going to be upset about one thing then we should be upset by it all.

Cats. Sometimes people make me want to laugh out loud. Of all the things that kill birds, I could only find enough information to check my numbers for two of them. Wind turbines and cats. Why does everybody hate on cats so much? Cats are natural predators, maybe not for the areas they are in, but they are meant to hunt. Secondly, there is an overpopulation of them. Is that their fault? No, absolutely not. Some inconsiderate person got a cat, didn’t get it spayed or neutered and then it found another cat of some careless person and that was the end of that. The mother probably went off to have the babies, the babies grew up wild because they weren’t around humans and then that was the end of that. One unfixed cat and her unfixed offspring will create 420,000 cats in seven years. Whose fault is that? Ours. If we want to blame someone for the dying birds we should take a hard look in the mirror and then point the finger.

Pesticides. If birds pollinate, eat, or breath it would make sense that pesticides and herbicides would be a problem. They’re bodies are sensitive. Couldn’t find too many sources on this, but one said 67 million die from pesticide use.

Destroyed habitats. Their natural habitats may be altered or destroyed by human development and by the changes in the climate that most scientists believe are caused by greenhouse gases emissions from human activities (which wind energy use can help reduce). I couldn’t find any specific stats on this, but related I found: 113 birds (1.3%) are known to have become extinct. This number is expected to rise rapidly as the breeding populations of many species continue to decline. But even before the advent of modern technology, humanity took a heavy toll on creation. Approximately 70% of the known bird species have become extinct in the Hawaiian Islands since humans first arrived. Indeed, large-scale extinctions of Pacific island birds apparently was widespread. Recent evidence points to a loss from these islands in excess of 2,000 species following human habitation—a 20% reduction in the world’s bird species.

Power lines, communication towers(including cell towers, radio towers, TV towers, etc). Deaths caused from power lines equal around 130 million and communications towers account for around 7 million. There are 84,000 communications towers in North America. Unluckily for birds, these 84,000 communication (TV, radio, cellphone) towers in North America often kill the birds as they are migrating each year. The University of Southern California put a number on this massacre and it is large: 7 million bird deaths each year. All for our entertainment.!/article/34016/millions-of-birds-perish-at-communication-towers-usc-study-finds/

There is also deaths due to litter. I couldn’t find any specific numbers on that, but if the numbers are anything like those of all animals then it’s in the thousands to millions.

The wind energy industry and the U.S. government are researching ways to reduce the impact of wind turbines on birds and bats.

As more research is conducted, so more ways are found to reduce wind-power casualties. As bats rarely fly over the ocean, offshore wind turbines have negligible effect on their mortality. Offshore turbines also seem to cause low bird mortality. The Nysted Offshore Wind Farm, in Denmark, was actually built in a duck flyway, yet mortality was discovered to be just 1.2 birds per year per tower. Other techniques include slowing turbine blades at night – the time when wind speeds are lowest anyway but bats happen to be most active – shown by US research at the Casselman Wind Power Project to cut wildlife deaths by 73%.

There was even a study done to see which colors birds ran into more. Yellow was the deadliest and purple, with good reason, the birds seem to avoid. Now all we have to do is paint them all a lovely shade of purple and problem solved. Not quite, but still. There is hope still to be had.

If people are willing to go to such extremes, they obviously care about the birds. It’s just a matter of finding the right fit and fixing the mistakes. They always painted the turbines white because it was unobtrusive. I wonder why they didn’t paint them to blend in with the sky? (Just kidding. Kind of.) Would purple make the wind turbines less of an eye sore? Maybe.

Anyways, my point is that if we are really going to bash turbines even with all its benefits then I think we should really take a look at all the harmful thing we do to kill birds. Something to consider.

My other point is to not count out wind power altogether. They seem promising even if they are all purple. Don’t give up hope.

Whose Side Are You On?

Ugh. Animals are my favorite. I’ve always been drawn to them for a reason unknown to me. I love zoos because it gives me the opportunity to see them in real life and its opportunity I would never get otherwise so this was a hard research to do. To see what I have been supporting all these years, but here it is.

First, I would like to say that I have no patience for animal cruelty and the humans treat animals is disgusting to me. Animals end up being our slaves, our entertainment, just something to abuse or ignore. And I won’t deny the fact that I have supported the many institutions that use animals as entertainment. It is something I’ve felt uncomfortable with for a while, but they’ve created somewhat of an addiction for me that I selfishly wasn’t quite ready to part with. But enough is enough and I’m ready to have that one less thing that I can’t stand about myself. I think animals have the ultimate form of innocence even above babies. Animals only kill to survive whether for self-defense (even against humans) or to eat, that never changes. It’s the circle of life, it’s how they live and people should learn to accept that. Do I like that they do that? No, I hate death and it makes me sad no matter what it is, but what they have to do to survive and I understand that. They should be protected above all else. I don’t have problems with babies besides that they’re just annoying, it’s the people they grow into that bothers me.  They all grow up and they all turn into regular people. Some babies grow up to be Mother Teresas, some prison occupants, and most somewhere in between, but there are no perfect humans. We all destroy something in some way. The Earth was made for animals. The ecosystem has a way of keeping everything in balance so that the prey that is doing damage is kept down by another predator.  Anything bad that happens in the world can be linked back to some kind of human involvement. That fact weighs heavily on my mind. I can be extremely judgmental and overly critical when it comes to my opinions of human nature and its work. This especially shows up when I’m talking about the way humans treat animals. I know this and I know that very few people will ever agree with me, but that’s okay. I said all that to somewhat warn about some of the opinions I have and explain why I have them.

Second, I would like to say that the ‘they have every need provided for them. It’s the best life ever’ is an argument that is a load of lies. People need to realize that wild animals are strong, independent, resourceful, and smart. They can get what they need and the evidence is in the fact that they do it every day. The only dangers are usually other predators (which is part of the circle of life so people need to get over it) and humans. You link back any endangered species back to the involvement of humans and the selfishness that they possess. Whether it’s because people want their body parts like coats or ivory so they can flaunt their money or whether it’s because of global warming (I have done very little research about this, but last summer was enough evidence for me and the fact that in every endangered species I looked up, overheating was the reason so many were dying.)

There are believed to be 10,000 zoos worldwide, although accurate numbers are not kept. Conditions vary greatly, with the worst being nothing more than concrete prisons holding very distressed animals. The better zoos make an effort to re-create a natural environment, even though this is never completely possible.

Zoos are supposedly good for many reasons. Zoos attract thousands of visitors each year. They allow people to see animals that they would never get to see otherwise. Other than a safari or dangerous face-to-face (during which I highly doubt anyone really appreciates the encounter) people may never get to see these animals in real life besides at a zoo. A visit to the zoo is believed to educate and entertain people about wild animals. Many zoos have breeding programs to try to supposedly help endangered species. No one wants to see the panda or the tiger become extinct, and zoos offer hope for the future survival of these animals. Breeding programs are not cheap, and collecting admission fees from visitors is the best way to fund them. Researchers may also use zoos to study animal health, develop technology that can be used to track wild populations, advancing veterinary medicine and developing animal handling techniques.

Some other reasons people like zoos are because animals can be closely monitored in a zoo, where any illness, injury or infection can be treated by a vet. Wild animals don’t have this luxury. There is also no threat of starvation or predation in a well-run zoo. Animals in zoos could not be safer, and they have their every need met. But like I said before, this is a load of crap.

While the reasons above are pretty good, but for every idealistic reason people have to support them, there is evidence to suggest the contrary.

Zoos Are Not Natural

One, when people visit zoos, they are not seeing wild animals, but captive animals whose families still live in the wild. The environment is not natural. For example, cheetahs cannot run at full speed. Could you even imagine being able to run up to 70 mph and not even being able to run 15 because you’re so closed in. I somewhat like to run and if not run at least exercise, but if I imagine being stuck in car for more than 24 hours without that exercise then I start to get very antsy. I’m not even a fast runner or a vigorous exerciser, but I know I would go crazy if I never got to do it. To be wild, I’m sure it would be thousands of times worse.   Primates cannot gather fruit from high up in the forest canopy as they would in their real homes. I would think that pretty much everyone hates going to the store, but if it was as natural to you as driving or walking wouldn’t make you crazy not to be able to do it? The truth is that these animals’ natural habitats can never be re-created, no matter how hard a zoo tries. And many do not try hard at all.

Most animals housed in zoos are not endangered. In fact, in 2007, the Born Free Foundation researched the largest zoos with charitable status and found that less than 25 per cent of animals (species and subspecies) held in British zoos are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as threatened with extinction in the wild. It is likely that smaller or privately-owned zoos perform even worse in this respect.

Animals in zoos are not free to express their natural instincts, whether that means roaming hundreds of miles, breeding with the mate of their choice or killing their own prey. They are disturbed by spectators every minute of the day, and there is increasing evidence that this can have negative effects on them. Animals suffer many psychological problems because of their captivity and may display stereotypic behavior such as repetitive pacing, bar-licking, rocking and head-bobbing.

If zoos are such luxurious places for animals, with every danger spared them, why is the lifespan of captive elephants, for example, less than that of their wild counterparts? Frustration, boredom, loneliness and unnatural conditions all play a part in their misery and consequent premature death.

Zoos are businesses. They may buy, sell and breed animals. When they buy them, they are not always concerned about where they come from or the cruelty that they have endured along the way. When they transfer animals, it may be to another zoo with atrocious conditions, to an animal dealer, for taxidermy or to a laboratory where the animals will be experimented on.

And here are the facts to back-up my opinions.

1. Zoos are miserable places for animals
A CAPS film, No Place Like Home, looked at UK zoos and found many examples of poor conditions for animals.

In 2010, a CAPS undercover investigator filmed sick animals left untreated and dead animals to rot on floors at Tweddle Farm zoo. CAPS had to take rabbits to a vet to have infections treated and after our expose local police confiscated a monkey who had been kept alone and given cake and other junk food to eat. (How’s that for having every need provided for?)

Think safari parks are better than ‘traditional’ zoos? Woburn Safari Park was keeping its lions locked into small enclosures for 18 hours a day. A DEFRA zoo inspection report in 2010 said: “The animals were very crowded and there was no provision for individual feeding or sleeping areas. There was no visible environmental enrichment. Some of the lions exhibited skin wounds and multiple scars of various age, some fresh, some healed.”

A government-funded study of elephants in UK zoos found “there was a welfare concern for every elephant in the UK.” 75% of elephants were overweight and only 16% could walk normally, the remainder having various degrees of lameness. Less that 20% were totally free of foot problems. (M Harris et al. The welfare, housing and husbandry of elephants in UK zoos. University of Bristol, 2008)

2. Zoos can’t provide sufficient space
Zoos cannot provide the amount of space animals have in the wild. This is particularly the case for those species who roam larger distances in their natural habitat. Tigers and lions have around 18,000 times less space in zoos than they would in the wild. Polar bears have one million times less space. (Wide roaming animals fare worst in zoo enclosures. Guardian, 2.10.03)

3. Animals suffer in zoos
A government-funded study of elephants in UK zoos found that 54% of the elephants showed stereotypes (behavioral problems) during the daytime. One elephant observed during day and night stereotyped for 61% of a 24-hour period. (M Harris et al. The welfare, housing and husbandry of elephants in UK zoos. University of Bristol, 2008)

Lions in zoos spend 48% of their time pacing, a recognised sign of behavioural problems. (G Mason & R Clubb. Guest Editorial, International Zoo News, Vol 51, No 1 (2004))

4. Animals die prematurely in zoos
African elephants in the wild live more than three times as long as those kept in zoos. Even Asian elephants working in timber camps live longer than those born in zoos. (R Clubb et al. Compromised survivorship in zoo elephants. Science, Vol 322, 12.12.08)

40% of lion cubs die before one month of age. In the wild, only 30% of cubs are thought to die before they are six months old and at least a third of those deaths are due to factors which are absent in zoos, like predation. (G Mason & R Clubb. Guest Editorial. International Zoo News, Vol 51, No 1 (2004))

5. Surplus animals are killed
A CAPS study found that at least 7,500 animals – and possibly as many as 200,000 – in European zoos are ‘surplus’ at any one time. I just want to point out that this wouldn’t be happening if zoos released the animals in the wild like so many people think they do.

In 2010, zoo trade bodies rallied to the defense of a German zoo which was prosecuted for breaching animal welfare laws after it killed three tiger cubs because they were not pure-blooded (hybrid). (Code of Ethics & Animal Welfare. World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, June 2010)

The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) said in 2007 that member zoos were being actively encouraged to kill unwanted animals, including tigers, if other zoos did not want them and if they were hybrids. It said that such animals take up space and keeper time. (Zoos kill healthy tigers for the skin trade. Sunday Times, 22.7.07l)

Animals are regularly ‘culled’ in UK zoos. In 2006 the whole pack of wolves at Highland Wildlife Park were killed after the social structure of the pack had broken down. In 2005 two wolf cubs and an adult female were shot dead at Dartmoor Wildlife Park. The vet reported: “Selective cull due to overcrowding and fighting in the pack” and “Further cull of cubs needed”. In 2001 a DEFRA zoo inspection of Dartmoor Wildlife Park in October 2001 found that “several significant dead animals” were stored in a food freezer “for taxidermy in the future”.

6. UK zoos are connected to animal circuses
CAPS exposed a UK zoo in 2009 that was a member of the trade body BIAZA (which supposedly upholds the highest standards) as having a breeding connection with a controversial animal circus. Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm had been breeding camels from the Great British Circus for several years and in 2009 obtained three tigers from the circus.

A female tiger at the zoo had three stillborn cubs and another who died at three weeks old. The mother also died.

7. Animals are trained to perform tricks
Many zoos train animals to perform tricks as if they were in a circus. Performing sea lions, birds and elephants can be seen at many UK zoos.

Some training of elephants has been done using electric goads. CAPS infiltrated a training session held at Blackpool Zoo in 1998 and filmed elephants being trained to lift their feet and head, hold sticks in their mouths and jabbed with elephant hooks in the shoulder and head.

In 2010 it was revealed that an elephant at Woburn Safari Park had previously been trained using an electric goad (Woburn admits it gave bull elephant electric shocks. Sunday Times, 27.6.10)

The movie ‘Water for Elephants’ pretty much ruined circuses for me. A small fraction of the reason for that was because Robert Pattinson was in it, but mostly because it showed how elephants were really treated. Water for Elephants was not a true story, but it was based on real life events. Not only that, but there has been video evidence released that shows how the animals were abused, in form of bull hooks and shock, in order to get them trained. Experts and animal activists claim that unless this abuse was used then the animals would not and could not be trained to do these kinds of tricks. Below is the link to the video evidence

8. Animals are still taken from the wild
In 2010, Zimbabwe planned to capture two of every mammal species found in Hwange National Park and send them to North Korean zoos. This included rhinos, lions, cheetahs, zebras and giraffes as well as two 18-month-old elephants. The plan was only stopped after international pressure by a coalition of organizations including CAPS.

A CAPS study found that 79% of all animals in UK aquariums were caught in the wild.

70% of elephants in European zoos were taken from the wild. [R Clubb and G Mason. ‘A Review of the Welfare of Zoo Elephants in Europe’, RSPCA, 2002].

In 2003 the UK government gave permission for the capture of 146 penguins from a British territory in the South Atlantic (Tristan da Cunha). Those who survived the seven-day boat journey from Tristan to a wildlife dealer in South Africa were sold to zoos in Asia (Taken by force. BBC Wildlife, February 2004).

9. Zoos don’t serve conservation
Zoos claim to breed animals for eventual release to the wild but breeding programs are primarily to ensure a captive population, not for reintroduction. Captivity does not count as wild. What is the point of having a population of anything if it isn’t natural?

Lions are a popular in zoos, but the vast majority “are ‘generic’ animals of hybrid or unknown subspecific status, and therefore of little or no value in conservation terms.” (Nicholas Gould, Editorial, International Zoo News, Vol 49, No 5 (2002)).

Zoo director David Hancocks said: “There is a commonly held misconception that zoos are not only saving wild animals from extinction but also reintroducing them to their wild habitats. The confusion stems from many sources, all of them zoo-based… In reality, most zoos have had no contact of any kind with any reintroduction program.” (Quoted in ‘Who Cares for Planet Earth?’ B Jordan, 2001)

Captive breeding is considered by some conservation scientists to be a diversion from the reasons for a species’ decline, giving “a false impression that a species is safe so that destruction of habitat and wild populations can proceed” (Snyder et al. Limitations of Captive Breeding in Endangered Species Recovery. Conservation Biology, Pages 338-348. Volume 10, No. 2, April 1996).

Zoos spend millions on keeping animals confined, while natural habitats are destroyed and animals killed as there is insufficient funding for protection. When London Zoo spent £5.3 million on a new gorilla enclosure, the chief consultant to the UN Great Ape Survival Project said he was uneasy at the mismatch between lavish spending at zoos and the scarcity of resources available for conserving threatened species in the wild. “Five million pounds for three gorillas when national parks are seeing that number killed every day for want of some Land Rovers and trained men and anti-poaching patrols. It must be very frustrating for the warden of a national park to see”.

I would feel differently if some of the zoos money make went to actually keeping the animals in the wild, but I couldn’t find any evidence of that. Zoos also justify themselves by saying that they educate. When I went to the zoo, I didn’t learn all that much. I learned some new names, but as far as education goes that was pretty much all. Which leads to my next point.

10. Zoos fail education
A CAPS study of UK aquariums found that 41% of the animals on display had no signs identifying their species – the most basic of information.

A US study found no compelling evidence for the claim that zoos and aquariums promote attitude change, education, or interest in conservation in visitors. The study authors urged zoos to stop citing a zoo-funded study which claimed an educational benefit from visits “as this conclusion is unwarranted and potentially misleading to consumers.” (L Morino et al. Do Zoos and Aquariums Promote Attitude Change in Visitors? A Critical Evaluation of the American Zoo and Aquarium Study. Society and Animals 18 (2010) 126-138)

The good news is that the AZA tracks the conservation efforts of member zoos with biennial reports on conservation science. According to the most recent report, AZA members participated in or supported 1,400 field conservation projects worldwide, and over 300 projects in North America between 1999 and 2000.

  • Developing species-specific resource manuals and standards for animal care
  • Requiring AZA zoos and aquariums to develop and implement enrichment programs.
  • Training USDA-APHIS inspectors
  • Lobbying the government for more funding for APHIS
  • Reducing the number of surplus animals by giving “do not breed” recommendations
  • Developing a system to track animals and setting policies that forbid the transfer of animals to substandard facilities and hunting ranches

In my opinion there are only a few things that could justify the captivity of so many animals.

  1. The donation of at least 30% of funds donated to a group that works for conservation or the reintroduction of endangered species into the wild.
  2. If all the animals featured in zoos were being rehabilitated to be released back into the wild.
  3. If the only animals that were featured in zoos were actually endangered (which there is plenty and there are all unique enough to keep people’s attention) and the zoos were breeding them and releasing them into the wild and a responsible manner so that they would have a fighting chance.

I didn’t find too many options for being able to really help endangered species beyond those in our backyard and like those we find in zoos. One thing you can do if what I have said bothers you is to stop giving your money to these types of places. Companies won’t sell what people won’t buy. If you do decided to support one, make sure you do your homework which will be hard because so many companies are dishonest about what really goes on behind their electric fence. Donate money to conservation groups. You can check out 12 Ways to Help Animals In Our Own Backyard for lists of conservation groups and ways to get your concerns to people in leadership roles.

It’s pretty safe to say that my standards seem to be too high for many zoos and so many I saw during my research have false claims that I wouldn’t be comfortable trusting any. I’d rather be safe than sorry.