1 Corinthians 13: 1 & 13

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

9 February 2010

Should the Zoological Garden be closed? (6B Edmund Wong)

Zoos are well known for keeping animals for us to visit. However, many people believe that zoos are cruel and inhumane and thus they must all be closed down. Recently, an animal rights group in Hong Kong has argued for the closure of our local zoo – Zoological Garden in Central. In the following paragraphs, I am going to discuss why it is liable to be closed down, and why not.

Animals, like human beings, are independent to each other, with respect to their lives, rights and freedom to move, breathe and eat. Animals kept in zoos are individually closed in cages or restricted area. Also most of them cannot eat anything until the zookeepers feed them. Their freedom of movement has been deprived by the zoos. They cannot live in a natural way. To some extent, this is not healthy to them. For example, in order to keep wings healthy and strong, birds must fly in a long distance every day. In the zoos, however, their flying distance is limited by the nets. Eventually, their wings may become weakened. Some decades later, their next generation may be born with weaker wings, and finally unable to fly like their “ancestors”. This is a potential threat to those animals kept in the zoos. Moreover, some zoos in the world treat animals in cruel and inhumane way. The Manila Zoo is an example: the zoo is small, but it keeps wild animals such as lions and tigers, which need hundreds of kilometers of roaming areas. As a result, they are forced to live in an overcrowded area like prisoners, with boredom and loneliness. Some studies found that such a bad, stressful condition could lead animals to self-mutilation and abnormal self-destructive behavior. So, it is not desirable for animals to be kept in zoos with poor and inhumane management.

However, how is the actual situation of the Zoological Garden? Is it worthwhile to be closed? Probably not.

Nowadays, illegal inhumane animal hunters, located everywhere in the world, target on different kinds of animals like rhinos, bears and elephants, in order to get certain parts and organs from them for medical purposes and handicraft decorations. Zoos act as a shelter to protect animals from being killed and hurt. In addition to animal conservation, zoos can also help to breed the animals, making them continue to inherit and develop. In this aspect, the Zoological Garden has done very well. Decades ago, it has successfully conserved the local unique species, Hong Kong Newt, which was originally found in Chap Lap Kok, where the airport is located now. Without the Zoological Garden, those unique species might become extinct during the construction of airport. Also, the Garden only keeps small mammals, birds and reptiles in artificial habitats tailor made for them. So the animals can live in the Garden in a healthy and humane way. The problem of Manila Zoo does not exist in Hong Kong.

On the other hand, the mission and value of the Zoological Garden is to foster people’s understanding of animals, and educate them to respect and appreciate the independence of nature. Only education and demonstration in zoos can eradicate the misunderstanding of animals by people, and remind people to respect all living things in the world. Otherwise, the problems of animal abuse and illegal hunting would continue to exist, or even become more serious.

I really appreciate the Zoological Garden’s effort and contribution to animal conservation and education of animal rights. I think the Garden should not be closed down, as it plays an important role in animal breeding and protection from illegal hunters and animal abusers. Also, it is good for people to learn about the independence of nature by visiting the lovely, energetic mammals, birds and reptiles. Thus, they would be aware of what animal rights are and start to respect animals. It would be a pity if the Garden is closed down.

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