CCTV footage that’s gone viral online shows zookeepers at a breeding center—which is really just a zoo—in Chengdu, China, aggressively dragging panda cubs and tossing them back into their cage when they try to break out of their concrete pen.
Pandas belong in the wild, and the zoo, which breeds pandas and other animals, should listen to the outcry of the Chinese public and netizens from around the world by sending the cubs to a sanctuary, where they belong.
Just as animals in other zoos in China, the U.K., the U.S., and elsewhere are, these pandas are denied everything that’s natural and important to them, and every aspect of their lives is manipulated and controlled.
Zoos claim that they want to protect species from extinction, which sounds like a noble goal, but zoo officials usually favor exotic or popular animals—who draw crowds and publicity—rather than threatened or endangered local wildlife. The Chinese government, for example, “rents” pandas to zoos around the world for fees of more than $1 million per year—and there’s some question as to whether the profits are being directed toward panda-conservation efforts at all.
The purpose of most zoos’ research is to find ways to breed and maintain more animals in captivity. If zoos ceased to exist, so would the “need” for most of their research.
What You Can Do
Never patronize zoos. As long as people continue to buy tickets, animals will continue to suffer. Zoos would be forced to stop breeding and capturing wild animals if their financial support disappeared. Talk to family, friends, and coworkers—especially those with small children—who may be inclined to go to such facilities, and explain to them that every ticket purchased directly contributes to animals’ misery.