|courtesy google images|
The co-mingling of wildlife with people often results in great tragedy. Planting Walt Disney World in the natural habitat of Florida's alligator and crocodile populations resulted in the most horrific situation imaginable - the death of a toddler by alligator. Yet, the truth is that both the alligator and the child were behaving naturally. The child's family will never be the same again and Walt Disney World is busy killing alligators to ascertain the actual culprit. Was that the best place for a family theme park?
Transplanting wild animals to zoos and circuses results in all kinds of hurt. Neither the people nor the animals can behave naturally in those environments and the result is, again, harm to both. A gorilla was killed because a child entered the exhibit, and people have been hurt because animals have exited their exhibits, notwithstanding the already enormous stressors inherent to being a wild animal in captivity.
Add to the mix those like the dentist who killed Cecil the Lion, who travel around the world just to invade the sanctuary spaces of our wildlife to kill them for trophies, and those who would bring a jaguar to a heavily populated press ceremony and you have one hot mess.
You should also know that under the United States Endangered Species Act, Fish and Wildlife services can issue permits to zoos, circuses, amusement parks and researchers to possess endangered wildlife if the importer or exporter can show that doing so will enhance the survival of the species. It has been recently reported that a charitable contribution to a conservation agency mysteriously seems to grease the wheels in successfully obtaining such a permit. This is so disturbing that U.S. Representative Brendan Boyle has asked the agency to halt this practice. It is also a practice that is clearly not helping the survival of the species.
Look- this is not ok. Whether we destroy animal habitats and displace them for our convenience, hunt them in the habitats we left for them, or force them into people spaces where they can't behave naturally, we cause them physical and emotional harm. To do this is not living up to our potential nor commensurate with a humane and empathetic society. We must rethink this for the future of our planet and for any chance at raising compassionate and empathetic children.
Otherwise, there will be no more "life" in "wildlife".