Lion .. zoo or wild .. what is the answer?

When visiting the Zoo with my Son and his daughter, my wife and D-in-L were also there, I had feelings of trepidation and apprehension, why?

Because I hate seeing the beauty of a wild animal confined to a restricted space. Mankind has reduced their natural habitat by so much as it is, that they are now almost restricted to reserves specially set aside for them. Look our reserves are not small (Kruger 19 633 sq. Km. or 7 580 sq. miles and lets say the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park which comes in at 38 000 sq. km. or 15 000 sq. miles. Just dawned on me you can fit Wales into the Kgalagadi and have some space left over.)

However, the point I’m making, restricting a Lion or Elephant into a small area is just considered, by me, cruel. I know Zoos and the like are very necessary for the education of the younger generations unable to get to the parks, some never getting the chance ever, to experience a Lion or Elephant in the wild.

BUT, then at the rate of poaching of our poor Rhino population, the only place you will get to see them in the near future, will be the Zoo. Have you heard of our practice of injecting Toxic dye into the horn now? Completely harmless to the Rhino, as its horn is nothing more than the same as your finger nail, but it does colour the inside of the horn and warns prospective buyers not to purchase it. Me, I hope they try it and end up with such bad runs, that their inners pass through their foof holes.. chew your finger nails you bunch of idiots that buy this horn thinking it is better than viagra.

However would you not rather see a Lion in the wild grass than on a mown lawn????????

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74 thoughts on “Lion .. zoo or wild .. what is the answer?

  1. I have a low opinion of zoos too. The UK have now all but banned animals in circuses, and I am sure it is a matter of time before it becomes unfashionable to hold wild animals in zoos too.

    • I would love to see the end of them… I do realise that they are educational in some instances… but I can’t help but feel sorry for the animals…

  2. I have definite ideas on the subject, and these are being developed in one of the kids’ books I am writing. There is a place, I think, for very spacious and as-natural-as-possible zoos – and even well-managed circuses with lots of ‘time off’ – but only for rescue animals where there is no possibility of rehabilitating into the wild. And for the protection and breeding of endangered species.

  3. So very true that some children would never see a large animal without going to a zoo. Natural habitat wins over mowed grass in my book πŸ™‚

  4. I have mixed feelings about zoos. The zoos today are more natural then the zoos they had when I was growing up, but they are still captive places. Yes, they are educational and places for animals that need protection to live a fairly descent life, but…

  5. Aaaah, happy kitty but I agree, they shouldn’t be confined. Thanks for the intel on the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, never realized it was that big. Bad rhino poachers, hope their bits fall off!

  6. I admire your passion and love for the animals and nature my friend. I do want them to be in the wild too or a sanctuary where they are safe and protected. Poachers and animal killers should be put in jail for a long time so it will serve as an example for those who are commiting such cruel acts to this magnificent creatures. Awesome pictures.

  7. Oh boy! What a quandary… to lock them up to keep them safe, or give them freedom and, perhaps, extinction? I have always believed that quality of life is the most important thing, but at what cost when we have these barbaric people intent on killing them all.

  8. This is a true double-edged sword …. and your perspective, one who has easier access to the wild that is home to many of the great animals of the world, is certainly one to remember.

  9. I really appreciate the way you’ve approached this topic, BD. I am very sad when I hear the way animals are losing their natural habitats all over the world, and then, of course, the terrible ravages of poaching is distressing to anyone with a heart. I basically only know wild animals through zoos. I can completely understand how that would be difficult for you, when you see them in their wild and open beauty. I don’t go to zoos often, and find it interesting that because the good ones are working hard to give the animals as natural a setting as possible in captivity, often I don’t actually end up seeing the animals. They camouflage or stay in their dens. It’s all for the benefit of the animal, but it’s a funny outcome of giving them better living conditions. I do sometimes wonder if we really need zoos. There are a lot of things I’ll never see in person, and that’s just the human condition. I really love your respect for the animals and it’s one reason I enjoy your blog so much. You do show me birds and animals I would never otherwise no existed. ox

    • Thank you… I love your comment… and yes I am probably privileged beyond what I give myself credit for… however what you are saying I can live with… if the camp animals are kept in are big enough that you are not always lucky to see them, that I can accept… you would be surprised at the times we go to a park drive all day and like your zoo visit.. see nothing, and that is part of the fun, the search and using years of experiencing of trying to work out the likiest place to find the animals at certain times of the year… I do love you comment…

  10. My only experience is seeing lions in a zoo. It has only been in the last year that I have met people who have photos of them in nature or large nature parks from SA. As far as nature show vs going to a zoo. I have to go with the zoo but I would want them to be in a habitat close to their own, as much as possible. There is no replacement for an up close and personal look at a live animal. I have seen animals kept in small enclosures and agree with you that these are cruel.

    I guess for those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to live on a continent that has enough space to see animals in nature, maybe we should rekindle the journey of safari. This was not an uncommon travel destination in times past. Just add all the good humanitarian elements to it and it could be quite the adventure!

    • I can go with you on the camp size for animals must be big enough for them to hide from the visitors if they so wish… and I do know conservation and education are the good points of zoos… it is a personal thing.. I don’t like visiting them and wouldn’t if it wasn’t for my son and his daughter… but your idea of safaris .. Oh how I wish we could get more people to come out ..see our beautiful country and it’s wild animals… better education against poaching and protecting.. one could not get elsewhere…

  11. I agree, Bulldog! We have a terrible zoo – it’s gotten better, but was really a disgrace for a long time! Our elephant had outgrown her rock house she lived in and had sores on her back from it scraping through the door to come in and out…they fixed it, but it seems cruel to me. (I’m not sure if I imagine it or not, but the animals always look sad to me for being in captivity).

    • I will be posting photos of the elephant I saw at the zoo when I return from my present business trip… they are sad animals… and I’ll show you why…

  12. I totally agree. I feel so sorry for these creatures when I see them in a zoo (although I haven’t been to a zoo since I was fifteen years old). But I can understand that some endangered animals need to be kept safe (which is a very sad reflection on human kind) 😦

    • Yes Dianne and I do agree.. the mere existing of some specie is reliant on captivity.. a sad set of affairs .. but probably necessary… I just find it hard to swallow…

  13. I so agree with you. The zoo is no place for these magnificent creatures. I do love to see them in our wonderful game reserves though. Superb pics again. πŸ™‚

  14. I had not been to a zoo in so long, and then in Chicago (during my rehab trip)… there was one across the street from my apartment. I was not happy there – just got a tight feeling in my gut… so knew it just was not aligned with my deeper feelings about these creatures and their purpose. You remember that poem i wrote (Captivated). I had to escape into the methaphor because I could not focus on the fact this beautiful lion was behind bars in a zoo. I know for education there is no other way, but visceral reaction says no. Thanks for this bulldog – a great post and lovely images – happy your guy at least had some space and nature around him! Love to you, Robyn

    • Thanks Robyn… had the space the lion, but not the natural aggressive look or power about him… agree Zoos are a necessity, but we don’t have to like them..

  15. Great pictures. Yes, like you and others are saying, it can seem sad sometimes to see animals in small enclosures. I much prefer to support the zoos and wildlife parks that have big areas for the animals, especially containing areas where they can go and hide if they want to so that they are not always on show, and also those that do conservation work to help the animals in the wild too. And yes, the education side is important for kids who never get to see them in the wild.

    • It is a debatable point with each Zoo having it’s pros and cons, I cannot down them due to their educational side.. but not all the animals can be considered to be fairly treated… some needing far more area than others… it is just for me something I cannot handle because I can see them in their real homes and those not from here I can watch and learn about on TV…

  16. It is very sad indeed! I just found out that when our zoo had polar bears they had to be on Prosac because they were stressed out about being ‘contained’ at the zoo! That just pissed me off!

      • It breaks my heart! It’s equivalent to aliens wanting to show me off on Mars and drugging me so I stop pacing and crying! All this under the justification of “they are an endangered species” and we want to make sure they don’t go extinct. How many would rather become extinct and live out their days in their natural habitat? Show of hands please…

  17. You are making two distinct point here: caging animals in zoos and poaching rhinos for their horns. Both are man’s contribution to changing nature and using it for material gains. Modern zoos allow enough room for the animals to roam, but I remember, as a child, visiting zoos where fierce lions were kept in small cement cages.

    • I do remember those times as well… shows our age but at least now their areas have increased… yet with the advent of TV and the Discovery and National Geographics channels… is the need for the zoos not decreasing.??

  18. I totally agree with your bulldog. I prefer seeing them in the wild but it’s like you say, our wildlife are so threatened now and I also think the dye thingy for the Rhino horns would a great and I loved your ‘wishes’ to those that do buy the horns. Great photo’s again my friend. πŸ™‚ *hugs*

  19. Bob, that is a tricky one … it would be wonderful if we where able to take all kids in the world to .. see the lions in Africa. I think the Zoo or the new animals parks – where they have massive areas to move around in – has a place too and I think today that the Zoo’s are treating their animals with huge respect and love.
    Also I think that a high % of the animals in our zoo’s will never be able to live in the wild …
    I don’t like that wild animals should be hold captured or hold as pets, but I rather see the animals in a beautiful animal park and zoo – then somebody keeping them as pets. Your photos are so stunning.

    • Thanks Viveka.. one must consider the benefits of education as to that of keeping animals in un-natural areas.. don’t get me wrong I do believe they have their place in the world… but when I see poor polar bears and brown bears kept in areas totally not their normal environment, I feel sorry for them… This is just a personal rant about something I don’t like, and it is personal… and I realise not everyone is as privileged as I, to see these animals in their natural habitats.. but I feel for the animals.. Hippo in a camp of 2000 square metres when they are known to travel 100 s of miles between water courses.. Look, all the animals look healthy and well fed their coats shine from health, it is just not for me and that is why I avoid them… but when your son is taking his daughter there for the day.. I go with, more to see her than the animals, yet I leave there heart sore…

      • Personal I love the animal Parks … where they have massive areas and can behave so wild as they are. Totally agree that wild animals should be wild – my heart aches too … that is why I don’t go to Zoo’s that much. Been 3 times in total during my life time.

  20. I totally understand your uncomfortable feeling about zoos though sometimes they have been able to reproduce animals and put them back in the wild so they do have some use for research purposes and saving species. I am also in total agreement with you on the poaching, it is such a shame that it is so prevalent and that the population of these beautiful animals is being so drastically reduced. It goes also for the reduction of their habitat…so many issues in today’s world!

    • I’m not shooting down their good points Suzanne.. but to see one polar bear in an enclosure that is as smaller than the house I live in is for me just traumatic… I watch the discovery channels films on this magnificent animal in the wild and it’s power and ability to capture food etc… than look at that poor beast in a man made enclosure never seeing Ice or snow… sorry not for me… The zoos do great work, that I’m not disputing, but I just don’t like to go to them… but good points raised in your comment…

  21. What distresses me terribly is the lion park.I will not go there again.The lions seem to be just bred indiscriminately,particularly the white lions.There are so many of them,I just wonder where they end up.Canned lion hunting?

    • Adair now you’ve hit the nail on the head… Lion park will never see me due to the canned lion factor… sure it brings in millions of foreign currency … but I don’t want to know about it… or meet the people that organised it… when I see on TV canned lion hunting be exposed I want to get to grips with the shooter and shake him a little, how that can be considered getting a trophy I don’t know.. but then those that buy the rhino horn, thinking they are getting more than chewing their own finger nails, if the world would only wake up…

  22. I agree with you Rob.Everytime I visit a zoo with my grandchildren I get sad.I recently visited Steve Irwins(crocodile hunter) zoo in Australia and he really made Australians very aware of the threat to their wildlife.So from a scientific and preservation point of view they are a necessary evil.(As long as they are well managed).

    • I do agree Adair… necessary, but I don’t have to like them… I was encouraged seeing nearly 2 000 young children doing the educational tour on the same day we were there… but I do feel for the animals…

    • Thanks Russ… oh I do hope it helps.. with us losing approx 2 rhinos a day now it’s getting beyond belief, even the army is now involved trying to stem the slaughter…

  23. I totally understand what you are saying but you are very lucky with where you live – you have the opportunity to see them in the wild. Here in NZ, the zoo is the closest we can get and same applies for many people all over the world. Most of ours in zoos are born there so they don’t know any better – not that that is an excuse but still. I frequent zoos whenever we are in a city. We do have a park in Chch on the South Island – Orana Park where they have more land to roam free – still enclosed but a lot of space.

    • Ahh the space to roam… yes I do agree that Zoos are a necessity.. yet they still loose the battle when educating people about the rhino horn, elephant tusk or leopard skin. But then lets be honest you have specie in NZ that we don’t get to see even in Zoos, but which is better experiencing them in the wild or boxed.??
      Look I’m not knocking Zoos… I just can’t take it due to that luck of being able to see the animals in the wild.. as educational institutions they are a necessity.. and I love the idea that you go to see what there is to see in the Zoos… but come and visit me I’ll take you to the parks and convert you fast… a lion in the wild scares me, in a Zoo nothing more than a big cat… but I could debate the issues left and right and a happy medium will never be reached… but love your point made…

  24. Fingers crossed for the toxic dye! It’s a vexed question, isn’t it Bulldog? I hate to see them there too (not soooo bad in those huge open range zoos?), but on balance, I’m beginning to think the conservation and education work zoos do nowadays might just warrant it. I suppose the lion would rather bask in the sun on a mown lawn, food on tap daily, than be dead, and really, how many lions suffer this fate, around the world? The difference, for lion, and viewer, is expressed so potently by your two sets of photos – that magnificent tawny creature is a different beast to the ‘kittenish’ zoo animal.

    • I do agree that the Zoos have there place in the world.. I just don’t want to go to them when I can see and experience the wild side… however the educational side is magnificent and on the day we went to find about 2000 school children 4 – 8 years old having the educational tour was encouraging for the future of our land, specially as there is such a demand for land to settler on… but put a zoo lion up against the wild one and there is just no comparison… they seem to loose that natural colour and power that the wild seem to glow with… debated this point once, and never really reached a happy medium, yet a lion in a camp of 3 – 4 hectare is far better than in 2 000 square metres…

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