July 18, 2019 | 74° F

Zoos are important part of education, environmental awareness

In this day and age, it is very clear that the focus of most college-aged adults are things like what the newest high-tech gadgets available are and what they plan to do with their friends this weekend. What they usually don’t take the time to step back and look at is the big picture that is the world, especially the natural world. Recently, I read that the black rhino was officially declared extinct and that the white rhino is very soon to follow. Another article said wild hedgehogs in the United Kingdom could go extinct within the next 10 to 20 years.

The next issue lies in conserving and helping these species to survive. Zoos play an integral part in this, but they sometimes get a bad reputation due to misconceptions. People think the animals are treated poorly and that they don’t have enough space and just lack a general environment that ideally represents their natural habitat. But what people don’t realize is all the good zoos do, such as their usually extensive conservation programs and reintroduction programs to help these species thrive again in the wild. They also take extensive measures to prevent “zoochosis,” a sort of mental state animals could enter when they become extremely bored in their enclosure and that leads to abnormal and sometimes violent behavior.

The last issue lies in the zoos’ being slightly less popular now than they were many years ago. Therefore, the zoos are not making as much money as they used to, which could lead to enclosures not being as up-to-date as they should and enrichment practices not being sufficient enough to keep the animals occupied. People need to see that it’s their visits that help the zoo thrive and in turn, the species themselves. Zoos are a great way for the public to become educated and for them to see animals they wouldn’t normally be able to see in the wild. This is why people should visit more often and take advantage of what these amazing facilities have to offer.

Tara Zarzecki is a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior majoring in production animal science.

Tara Zarzecki

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