He’s hot! But zoos are not. Recently, STAR Awards Best Drama Actor Diether Ocampo took it all off and “turned zebra” to teach fans about the disturbing facts of zoo life. Crouching in a box next to the tagline “Think Outside the Box: Close Zoos,” the star of ABS-CBN’s Maligno series shows off some striking painted-on stripes in PETA Asia’s latest ad campaign. The ad aims to draw attention to the suffering of wild animals who are forced to live in captivity.
“Zoos claim that they educate people and preserve species, but they rarely succeed on either count,” says Ocampo.
Presenting a distorted view of wildlife, the only thing that zoos teach visitors is that it is acceptable to force animals to live in captivity, where they are denied everything that is natural and important to them. Herd animals, such as zebras, also suffer when their freedom to move freely and choose companions is taken away. This frustrating, often isolated existence inside barren, dirt enclosures destroys their spirits and can lead to obsessive, repetitive, self-destructive behaviors and even death.
“We have to realize at some point that if you deny living beings from performing natural behaviors—and if animals are supposed to live with other animals of their own kind and you suddenly force them to live in an enclosure with animals that they are not supposed to be with—it’s going to have some impact on the animal,” adds Ocampo.
In the wild, zebras are herd animals, with the freedom to travel and choose their own companions. Considered to be very social animals, zebras naturally share their ranges with other grazing animals, including kongoni, gazelles, and antelopes. They communicate with friends and family members by moving their ears, using facial expressions, and making sounds (e.g., barking, snorting). Zebras love nothing more than basking in the sun and grazing in fields with other wildlife.
So why can’t zoos get it right? “Even the largest zoos cannot provide the space, exercise, privacy, mental stimulation, and other vital needs of the animals they imprison,” says Ocampo, a lifelong animal lover. Ocampo adds, “Zebras can run at a speed of up to 56 kilometers per hour and have home ranges that cover up to 622 kilometers, but the entireManila Zoo measures only .055 square kilometers.”
Join Diether’s efforts to help animals suffering in zoos! Recently, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim announced plans to trade the Manila Zoo’s crocodiles for elephants and giraffes from Africa as well as to acquire more animals from Thailand, India, and Puerto Princesa in the Philippines. Send a quick note to Mayor Lim urging him to reconsider plans to procure more animals for display at the Manila Zoo. Ask Mayor Lim to improve the lives of the animals already at the zoo or, better yet, shut down the facility.