ZOOS: PRISONS OR AGENCIES OF PROTECTION?


In a middle of the night, in Thoiry Zoo (France), the 7 March of 2017, two poachers entered into the rhinoceros pen and killed Vince, a five years old rhinoceros to steal his horn for probably sell it on the black market. The protection of rhinoceros in their background around the world became a big deal. However, it’s the first time that an event like that happens in an Occidental zoo. This event asks the question of the security of animal in Zoos and more generally of the interest of Zoos in animal protection. Indeed, if animals are as the danger in Zoos as they are in wild what the interest of keeping them in zoos is?

1. PHILOSOPHY: HOW OUR SOCIETY CONSIDERS ANIMALS?

First, we have to think about how animals are considered in our society to understand why zoos were created. Philosophers thought a lot to animals spirit and conscience. In a lot of traditions, particularly in Asia, we consider animal as a reincarnation of humans. Vitalism movement considers that the living was special and could never be associated with an object, the idea of reincarnation was also a big topic for philosophers. Indeed, if we look at animals as one of our ancestors, how can we consider to eat them or to mistreated them? However, the philosopher and writer Elisabeth De Fontenay explained for Arte in 2014: “Philosophers like Descartes wanted to stop the belief in an animal soul, and he builds the “machine animal“ belief. This belief had a horrible impact on our relationship with animals.“ This statement explains in a certain way the creation of zoos, where animal became an attraction.

2. ZOOS EVOLUTION

Zoos changed a lot since 1752 and the creation of the first zoo in Vienna. Indeed, pens are bigger, and zoos have a real interest in animal wellbeing. However, Vienna zoo was so catastrophic that even few modifications were already a big thing. Tourists rooms were larger than the runs. Nowadays, Zoos offer activities to avoid boredom and runs which look like as possible as animal’s natural environment. The mains objectives of 21rst centuries zoos are entertainment, education, protection, and research.