Dr Murray Corke – Animals and Zoos

Dr Murray Corke – Animals and Zoos

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The keeping of animals in zoos clearly has
an educational element to it. And that’s probably the justification that
many modern zoos would use for keeping animals. Animals and Zoos I think if we are going to keep animals outside
their natural environment, we need to look at what their needs are from
a behavioral perspective, and try to satisfy those needs as best we
can. We need to provide them with adequate space, and that’s really difficult, particularly if we’re dealing with large predators, which would tend to roam over a very considerable
area. Things like lions and tigers would really
need space, and if you constrain that space, they tend
to show abnormal behaviors, which we refer to as stereotypic behaviors, the pacing and rocking behaviors that we see
in some species. I think we need to recognize those things
if they’re occurring, and recognize that those are actually a symptom
of an impoverished existence, and that we need to do something about the
environment, or the way in which those animals are fed, or the way in which they are enabled to interact
with their own species. I think we also need to look at the impact
of human observation on animals in zoos. There is an increasing amount of evidence
that animals, even though they may not express distress
in obvious behavioral terms, are affected by the presence of people. And we need to work harder at minimizing that. We need to make sure that animals are not
feeling constantly under observation. Because we recognize how stressful that is
for us, we need to accord animals a similar degree
of sentience. As somebody who is very interested in wildlife, I’m very aware that if a wild animal or wild
bird is aware of my direct observation, they will frequently move away from that position. And that is not something that is available
to animals in zoos. You get this passive acceptance, which we tend to regard as if the animal is
happy with its situation, but it’s not! That’s its way of dealing with the situation,
because it has no other way, it actually just has to accept the situation
rather than fight against it, to try and minimize its stress response to
the situation.

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