(h/t Shakesville)

A few weeks ago, my friend Abby tweeted this article on elephants (it’s very good, if you are interested in animal intelligence and research). I’m not on twitter, but she has a running feed on her blog that lets me see all the cool stuff she posts.

Anyway, since reading that article, I’ve really felt torn on the issue of elephants in captivity. I went to my first circus somewhere in my 20s.  It was also my last – although it was a large Ringling Bros. operation, watching those elephants and lions prodded into performing was horrifying for me.  But zoos were where I first fell in love with animals. And despite the Scientific American article’s assertion that TV and the internet can fill in a child’s imagination, I’m not sure I entirely agree with that.  I still thrill at seeing monkeys, penguins, giraffes, and elephants at the zoo.

So, is there a boost to conservation through zoo exposure and education?  If so, are the lives of a few elephants in captivity worth that?

I’m not sure I know what my answer to that is…


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2 Responses to Elephants

  1. Abby says:

    Goodness, I love that video!

    I am now getting to the point where I prefer not to go to zoos, but I don’t know what we’ll do when we have kids. I have already had the zoo/animal experience, but for people who never have, I do think it can cultivate a greater appreciation of animal beings. Hard questions!

    • Thanks for posting the article. It really has me thinking about the benefits, if there are any, to captivity, especially for highly intelligent and social animals. I just finished rereading Congo and have similar questions about apes. But I do wonder if a generation of people don’t see them, will they not donate to conservation efforts, either? How do you fall in love without seeing one? I’ll be interested to hear what you guys decide about taking your kids, when that comes up.

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