ZOO’s: educational sites or prisons?

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Snow Leopard into the freedom
(c) Sophiajon5

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Native to the mountain ranges of Central Asia, the snow leopard is considered a protected species with a high risk of extinction. Also called “ghost of the mountains”, because he is difficult to observe, he lives in an arid environment, between peaks and rocky crags, covered with moss and shrubs, between 3,000 and 4,500 meters of altitude. Like a predator, he hunts at night or at the dawn of the day and feeds on wild animals or livestock in the wild. Over the past twenty years, more than a fifth of these majestic wild creatures have disappeared. Nowadays about 6,500 free specimens are registered, of which only 2,500 with the characteristics suitable for reproducing.

One cause is the loss of its natural habitat, caused by climate change.
The mountain ranges of Central Asia are predominantly covered with snow and ice. Due to global warming, trees and mosses waste away and regress, leaving free space then occupied by livestock breeding. The additional second element is the pressure of the shepherds who hunt him to avoid attacks on the flocks; this human behavior leads to an inestimable loss for the biodiversity of these places with foreseeable future consequences and widely exposed in scientific studies.
There is, therefore, a reduction in the natural habitat of the leopard, which obliges him to move more in search for food. This fragmentation of the habitat caused by climate and man also affects the survival of the species that have the greatest difficulty in mating. A further cause is the rampant poaching for its fine fur and for the bones or parts of the body destined for Chinese Medicine.

The influence of the snow leopard on biodiversity is the same for every “big predator” at the top of the food chain: in his absence the herbivores that he hunts expand in number and destroy the surrounding habitat, seriously endangering the whole ecosystem.
After learning that at the Zoo at Maglio di Magliaso (Ticino south Switzerland) they transferred Sadary, a two-year-old snow leopard female from the Krefeld zoo in Germany, I once again asked myself the following bitter question: “Are ZOO educational sites or are only prisons?”

I am not a biologist, but apart from the noble intent of “preserving the species” and hoping that the animal will be able to reproduce in captivity, I don’t think that a Mediterranean area where the summer temperatures reach even the 40° C, is an environment suitable for an animal used to living in snow and ice at 20 or 30 degrees below zero. In addition to the completely different habitat, the conditions of life in an angled and cemented area, where Sadary and the male Deleg, who has already been a guest of the zoo since September last year, will (perhaps) find mutual sympathy and then mate, they are not certain ideals. These animals are used to occupy vast territories and it is perhaps better, for the purposes of preservation of their species, to store them in an Alpine Tierpark rather than in a minute city zoo… but even better they should be protected in their natural environment (see the projects of WWF and others).

Looking in the eyes of Sadary in the film published by the RSI I saw fear, disorientation and a lot of sadness.

And what do you think about this matter?

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-la-bellezza-esotica-di-sadary-arriva-al-maglio-frct
(c) tipress

savary_Maglio

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Originario delle catene montuose dell’Asia Centrale, il leopardo delle nevi è considerata specie protetta con alto rischio d’estinzione. Anche chiamato “fantasma delle montagne”, poiché è difficile da osservare, vive in un ambiente arido, tra picchi e dirupi rocciosi, ricoperti da muschi e arbusti, tra i 3.000 e 4.500 metri d’altitudine. Quale predatore, caccia di notte o agli albori del giorno e si ciba di animali selvatici o di bestiame allo stato brado. Negli ultimi vent’anni sono scomparsi di più di un quinto di queste maestose creature selvatiche. Oggigiorno sono censiti circa 6.500 esemplari in libertà dei quali solo 2.500 con le caratteristiche adatte a riprodursi.

Una causa è la perdita del suo habitat naturale, causata dal cambiamento climatico. Le catene montuose dell’Asia Centrale sono luoghi prevalentemente ricoperti da neve e ghiaccio. A causa del surriscaldamento globale gli alberi e i muschi deperiscono e regrediscono lasciando spazio libero poi occupato dall’allevamento di bestiame. Un secondo elemento che si aggiunge è la pressione dei pastori che lo cacciano per evitare attacchi alle greggi; comportamento umano che porta a una perdita inestimabile per la biodiversità di questi luoghi con prevedibili conseguenze future e ampiamente esposte in studi scientifici.

Vi è perciò una riduzione dell’habitat naturale del leopardo che lo obbligano a spostarsi maggiormente per la ricerca di cibo. Questa frammentazione dell’habitat causata dal clima e dall’uomo, influisce anche sulla sopravvivenza della specie che ha maggiore difficoltà ad accoppiarsi. Una ulteriore causa è il dilagante bracconaggio per la sua pregiata pelliccia e per le ossa o parti del corpo destinate alla Medicina Cinese.

L’influsso del leopardo delle nevi sulla biodiversità è lo stesso per ogni “grande predatore” in cima alla catena alimentare: in sua mancanza gli erbivori che egli caccia si espandono di numero e distruggono l’habitat circostante mettendo in serio pericolo l’intero ecosistema.

Dopo aver appreso che presso lo Zoo al Maglio di Magliaso (Ticino Svizzera) hanno trasferito Sadary, una femmina di leopardo delle nevi di due anni proveniente dallo zoo di Krefeld in Germania, nuovamente mi sono posta la seguente pungente domanda: “gli ZOO sono dei luoghi istruttivi o sono solo delle prigioni?”

Non sono una biologa, ma a parte il nobile intento di “preservare la specie”, sperando che l’animale riesca a riprodursi in cattività, non penso che una zona mediterranea dove le temperature estive arrivano persino a sfiorare i 40°C siano l’ambiente adeguato per un animale abituato a vivere nella neve e ghiaccio a 20 o 30 gradi sotto lo zero. Oltre all’habitat completamente diverso, le condizioni di vita in un antro angusto e cementificato, dove Sadary e il maschio Deleg, che è già ospite dello zoo da settembre dello scorso anno, dovranno (forse) trovare simpatia reciproca per poi accoppiarsi, non sono certo ideali. Questi animali sono abituati ad occupare territori immensi ed è forse meglio, per gli scopi di preservazione della loro specie, accasarli in un Tierpark alpino piuttosto che in un minuto zoo cittadino… ma ancora meglio andrebbero protetti nel loro ambiente naturale (vedasi progetti WWF e altri)!

Guardando negli occhi di Sadary nel filmato pubblicato dalla RSI si percepiscono paura, disorientamento e tanta tristezza.

Cosa ne pensi tu di questo argomento?

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Claudine leopardo delle nevi corriere 5.3.2019

14 Replies to “ZOO’s: educational sites or prisons?”

  1. When trying to preserve a specie, it is sometimes anything but ideal to relocate them to such a hostile place with concrete slabs.
    I live near the San Diego Zoo, and even though it is in the city, it wasn’t when it was first created. Aware of yours and others concerns they have restructured much of the area and created large expanses for animals to roam and birds to fly. In some cases this includes replicating the climate of their natural environment as much as possible. At first, the animals stayed hidden and were impossible to view. As they’ve grown comfortable they will now come up to the viewing areas. In my opinion, placing rescued animals is one thing, taking them out of their natural habitat is another. I know some of the animals at our Zoo were born and raised there and have been there for several generations and would probably not survive in the wild, but some have been relocated from other zoos. This zoo is also a study and research facility thus monitored and supported by WWF and Disney Worldwide Conservation.
    When my children were small, I would take them there all the time to learn and study. They developed a love, knowledge and respect for animals they might not have learned about anywhere else. Inner city kids who will most likely never get to see such marvels also benefit. So, although I understand your concern, there is a plus side.
    Optimally, if all zoos were monitored by WWF and other organizations that support and advocate for these animal then zoos would not be as plentiful and these beautiful animals would benefit, but sadly this is not the case worldwide.

    1. Thank you, dear Joliesattic, for taking the time to write down your feeling. I really appreciate.
      Please see my comment to Snowbird (Dina), in which I point out some more explanations about my very restrictive thinking.
      Love and serenity :-)claudie

      1. I actually do understand both points of view and perhaps it is selfish, but then men in general are inherently that, selfish to want to see them firsthand. I cherished the zoos when my children were small, but now resist going for the very same reasons you suggested, so I do get it. I do wish there was another way though, as you stated to do what needs to be done. Thank you so much for your blog!

      2. Yes, most of the time men are selfish and this in many situations. I guess by our complexed nature; Darwin’s evolution theory may give us some hints about the reasons 🙂 most of all, it could be because of the necessity of being “over” the other sentient beings (in that case I’m widlely speaking in general, about all sentient beings humans and animals).
        Being able to admire a prey inside a cage, gave us the feeling of domination. That, at least, was at the very beginning when Circus and zoos where used to show off the power of men over predators… I know that now is different. Some places are sanctuary for old animals, to enable them to keep alive and spend the rest of their days in armony: many animals destinated to the slaugherhouses and saved, are now in such places.
        The story about wild animals, indeed, is another.
        There is the need to stop poaching and protect them in their habitat. Stop deflorestation to preserve orangutan in Indonesia, Siberian tiger or the India’s ones in their own territories, rhinoceros in Africa, ocelots in Amazonas…. you just name the rest, it will take pages.
        I’m an activist, member of WWF, I do what I do with love. I wish I was 40 years younger, and I would march for the sake of the planet (actually, I have a project 🙂 but I have to prepare myself for the next four years).
        We have such a wonderful link to the
        https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/
        with absolute stunning news and images! Enjoy, have a lovely day :-)c

    1. Me too, but Joliesattic gave a comment about another vision: is interesting to read how people don’t (want) realize that, especially in San Diego in its zoos/aquariums, species are dying maybe not of neglect but of the suffering of loneliness and lack of space. As an example, I may recall the orcas Kyara and Tillikum just to name two… My feelings are others: all sentient being must be free. As a sentient being myself, I couldn’t imagine living inside a restricted space, as a prison/jail. I would die. Even if I do accept the divergent mentality of people used to think “one-way”, I don’t approve to private someone of his&her freedom.
      I guess nowadays we can have all the information at hands, in our homes, at any time we desire. On the web, you have at your disposal all type of videos, biochemical charts about animals (even the already extinguished), there is no need to confine them inside a zoo… even if that zoo has golden cages and serves first class food to the” inhabitants”.
      We shall do anything which is possible to preserve biodiversity, to protect the species (all of them!) by avoiding to chase, capture or kill them for any type of need.
      In addition to that, I may point out that it is most important to help to protect these species in their own environment, putting more information in schools and between the local population. Most of all, providing good control over poachers and outlaw commerce of protected species.
      I’m aware that these measures won’t’ be enough since the greed of men is gone too much out of control… but something is going on, and for the good, with the intervention of many Ambiental’s foundations and animalist.
      A good first step, I’m positively sure, is to reduce or (even better) abandon the consumption of meat. I know it’s, for many, a difficult step to take, but my thinking is that it’s the only ONE possible to preserve our own human race.
      So I ask you, dear Dina, but also Nancy and Stacey to consider in explaining to Joliesattic with a better English and argumentation, your point of view! To all of you, thank you for this chance to step out in defense of the sentient beings we call “animals”.
      Love and serenity :-)claudine

  2. Oh, Claudine, ich habe deine Überlegungen und Gedanken zu diesem leidigen Thema gelesen und kann dir nur beipflichten. Man sollte meinen, dass auch die Verantwortlichen dies nachvollziehen können. Oder spielt da wieder Geld mit?
    Liebe Grüsse bisous Ernst

  3. non creso che uno zoo sia l’ambiente ideale per laloro riproduzione. ammesso che ciò avvenga, ma di sicuro improbabile, il cucciolo che vita avrà? Inoltre non sarà idoneo a ripopolare il suo areale.

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