Opinion: Animals are living beings too!

Published April 9, 2024
Illustration by Aamnah Arshad
Illustration by Aamnah Arshad

Have you ever visited a zoo and felt your heart break seeing the sad look in the animals’ eyes? Have you ever felt that compassion and pity in your heart when you saw an animal being bullied? Do you sometimes feel that spark of anger ignites in you when you witness a scene of cruelty to animals?

Do you sometimes stare sadly at zoo animals in cages and wish they could be free? If yes, do you want to know what you can do to provide animals with a safe habitat?

Yes, I think, those of us having a soft corner in our hearts have felt this and it’s a natural feeling. Each of us has a soft spot in our hearts for animals, who cannot speak for themselves.

Animals do speak but only to those who listen!

Zoos may be an exciting place for families to visit, but it is not fun for the animals living there. In most cases, animals in zoos live unhappy lives. Most zoos are considered unfit for animals because they are forced to live in an environment that is not so similar to their natural habitat. Animals get frustrated and aggressive if kept in zoos for too long. Imagine not having the freedom to go wherever they want, only having limited access to their mobility.

Try putting yourself in the place of an animal. Imagine you are in a cage all day long. You want to go out and explore the world, but all you have is people looking at you. Think how boring it would be not getting to do what you want to do, the only thing you get all day is people rattling the cage bars or yelling at you to do something interesting to entertain them. But you’re tired and bored and not really in the mood to do any such thing. As a result, you only get yelled at more. Don’t you think these animals’ lives are tough?

Read this quote slowly and at least twice and see how you feel: “When I look into the eyes of an animal, I do not see an animal, I see a living being, I see a friend, I feel a soul.” — Anthony Douglas Williams

Animals are living creatures just like us. They too want freedom, no one enjoys being in captivity. Animals in zoos often have to live in small limited spaces, which isn’t really good for their health. You may ask what this has to do with their health?

Well, just like us, animals need space to move and exercise. Small spaces may cause joint and muscle problems for them. Many animals are social creatures and often need interaction with others of their own kind, which is not possible in the zoo.

Why do you think that animals in the wild tend to be healthier than those in zoos? It’s because animals in their natural habitat are living a natural existence that is suited to them, living the lifestyle that is created by nature for them. They need their natural habitats to hunt, explore and thrive.

Many animals in captivity die because of illnesses or stress. I won’t deny the fact that zoos do try to provide animals for the basic needs of an animal by replicating to some extent the kind of environment similar to their natural one, but we must understand that this cage cannot provide animals and birds with a homelike feeling.

We, as children of this world and creators of the future, can also do something to help these animals. On a large scale, we can avoid going to zoos and try to convince people that sanctuaries are so much better than zoos. In sanctuaries, not only do we get to see different wild animals in their natural habitat, but the animals themselves feel free and happy.

What is a sanctuary?

A sanctuary is a place reserved for nature, especially animals, where wildlife is controlled and hunting is illegal. These are large nature reserves dedicated to animals, where scientist research and observe animals in their natural habitat. A sanctuary makes it easier for humans to see the way the wild animals live. These sanctuaries allow animals to enjoy the freedom they deserve.

We can and must raise awareness about the benefits of sanctuaries and the negative effects of zoos on animals. Sanctuaries focus on caring for and protecting animals instead of just looking for profit or entertainment. By supporting sanctuaries and saying no to zoos, we can create a future in which animals are treated with respect and compassion.

I’d like to conclude with one of the best quotes I’ve ever read by Anatole France (poet) on this topic: “Until one has loved an animal, part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

Published in Dawn, Young World, April 13th, 2024

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