Protection or Prison?

prison f

Just for background – I’m a vet nurse who ended up working for a year in a zoo (to my eternal shame) and I know the difference very well. A zoo is a place that displays animals for the amusement of the public. End of. I don’t care how much bumf they put up about education or “captive breeding”, their main function is to take money from the public to gawp at captive creatures.


A shelter, refuge or sanctuary is a place that takes animals who could not survive in the wild and provides a “forever” home for them. There are many reasons why animals can’t go back to the wild and yes, I totally agree, in an ideal world, orphaned apes would return to the jungle etc…BUT any creature that has “imprinted” on a human is not equipped to survive in its natural habitat. It’s very sad but true.

I was “mum” to a European Eagle owl I hand reared and he thought he was a human. I almost wish I’d left him to die as a chick because he was condemned to human company for the rest of his life. In the breeding season he would shyly offer half a dead chick to a passing female (human) in the hope of getting it together. Yes, it was heart-breaking.

When poachers, farmers and other “human beings” leave animals orphaned, there are two options – let it die, or allow it to live in a sanctuary. Similarly with those tragic beasts who have been in circuses, badly treated and rescued. So you’d rather we put them to sleep or allow them to live alongside the humans they now consider to be their family?

The zoo where I worked splashed about their endless efforts to captive breed for re-population. Oh yes, we did well there – the Né Né Goose was a triumph. Being wiped out by their human fellow-inhabitants for food, when they were re-introduced the humans said “Yum Yum, not eaten that for a while.” – our captive bred, reintroduced specimens were dinner.

So – many completely dedicated and possibly certifiable humans run shelters, knowing that they are making themselves the “de facto” parents of these critters and that they will be utterly dependent for life. Please don’t criticise, they know what they are doing.

Zoos, no matter how much PR they do, are making money – the one I worked at got the owners a luxury condo in Florida, a farmhouse in France as well as their stately home in Cornwall – it’s money.

So when people post that they support sanctuaries, please stop for a moment and think before replying that all animals should be in the wild – there are some that could not survive and they depend on the dedicated loonies who run sanctuaries.

Wild or dependent?
Wild or dependent?

4 thoughts on “Protection or Prison?

  1. Yes, but as you correctly reflect, we do not live in an ideal world. I love owls and feel particularly sorry for yours… When I tell people I love owls they always ask me if I’d want to have one. They’re not pets! There is an owl sanctuary very near where I live, and the owner looks after ill animals, blind…

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