The hypocrisy of zoos

Posted in 21/01/2015


A chimpanzee with two popsicles, one in each hand: that’s what the press in Brazil has shown in pictures and videos as the resource for fighting the intense heat of the last few days in a Brazilian zoo. Those popsicles lasted some minutes before being devoured by the chimp, but terrible hours were waiting when the workday ended and all the great apes were collected to their night cubicles without ventilation and temperatures difficult to resist for any living being.

Every year is the same story, photos and videos of animals with ice packs, ice cream and popsicles to combat the high summer temperatures. However, no one complained, not even the employees of the zoos, who see those beings suffer when are imprisoned for more than 15 hours a day in a space that is like a torture cell.

Walking late night through Sorocaba Great Primates GAP Sanctuary in recent days, when Sorocaba hit the highest temperatures in its history, I realized that no chimpanzee was asleep in their usual dormitories; all had taken their blankets and went to sleep in external homes or in aerial platforms.

Lucky them, I thought, that have that option, because thousands of primates and other large animals do not, for they are living in zoos where their biology is totally changed, feeding at night and getting trapped in small spaces since the beginning of the evening of the previous day.

Why zoos lock up their great apes in their dark night cubicles? Once I put the question to a zoo director and then repeated the same questions, years later, to others, and the answer was: “For human safety reasons, since we had cases of persons who wanted to jump in the enclosures to commit suicide!”

I found it that answer so odd that until today I could not understand it. To save a possible human suicide, thousands of animals are condemned to spend 15 hours a day as prisoners in terrible cages.

What is the point of the marketing of zoos and politicians to give popsicles to the unfortunate prisoners primates in order to mitigate the temperature, when hours later, in the dead of night and without the supervision of the public and society, they are submitted to the more unbearable temperatures, isolated from the outside world.

Only hypocritical and insensitive people can submit those innocent beings whom they say they “protect and love” to such treatment.

Dr. Pedro A. Ynterian

President, GAP Project International