The picture above was one my husband took of a lemur while on a recent trip to a nearby zoo. I chose this particular picture to share with you because it succinctly sums up our visit. I have two little girls, and was excited to take them to see the animals live with their own eyes, hoping that it would be a wonderful learning experience and an inspiration to them to love and protect animals. Instead of the joy and excitement I had hoped for my children, we had a rather depressing experience, and the new lesson for my kids was: This Is NOT How Animals Should Be Treated!
I created this petition in the hopes that new regulations will be made regarding U.S. Zoos under the current and outdated Animal Welfare Act. It was heartbreaking and disturbing to me to see all the people there walking around with their children, smiling and laughing and having fun while the animals watched from their cages. An enormous amount of animals were sleeping, most sat still looking depressed, and some paced back and forth along the cage fencing full of unspent and pent up energy. This is not a life we would wish on anyone, so it should not be acceptable for animals either.
We, the undersigned, ask you to create stricter federal regulations for zoos under the Animal Welfare Act in the United States. This act was created in 1966 and is long overdue for new provisions to ensure that captive animals have healthier and more natural habitats. Zoo animals are currently needlessly suffering in insufficient cages, with little space, hard surfaces such as rocky packed earth or cement, and are not offered any type of stimulation to enrich their lives. These beautiful creatures whom should be protected and cherished, are living long, lonely and unhealthy lives imprisoned for the amusement of humans.
A zoo’s primary goals should be to conserve, educate, and provide a shining example to future generations on proper animal care.
Current issues with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA):
Animals that meet the definition set forth in the statute, in the custody of a dealer or exhibitor, are protected by the statute. The definition of an animal, however, greatly limits the scope of the act. All cold-blooded animals, constituting a great number of the animals housed in zoos, are excluded from protection.
APHIS enforces the Act through conducting inspections and instituting rules and regulations for facilities. APHIS is required to conduct a yearly inspection and investigate facilities whenever a complaint is filed; however, there are only 104 inspectors and over 2,000 facilities to inspect. More inspectors need to be appointed.
Standards are very broad and set forth only basic minimal requirements for food, water, housing, and sanitation. Except for primates, the mental health of the animals is not protected or even considered.
There is a lack of adequate enforcement mechanisms within the statutes. Adding to the problem, most state and federal governing agencies are over-worked and under-funded, leading to less than optimal enforcement of the statutes that exist. An increase in funding and/or public concern would put pressures on such agencies to ensure that at the very least, minimal standards are upheld.
Lastly, only minimal standards currently exist. Tighter controls and stricter regulations would lead to an overall improved quality of life for zoo animals.
Animals in zoos are caged for life and deprived of the opportunity to develop and fulfill the full range of their interests and needs. Social animals are often forced to live in the misery of solitary confinement. Some animals are confined next to their predators, and some are held in crammed, barren environments where they are constantly bullied by cagemates.
The time for change is now! Please show your compassion for some of our most beloved animals and create stricter regulations for zoos!