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Oh, the roadside zoo

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by The Vegan, 18 Jan 2015.

  1. The Vegan

    The Vegan Well-Known Member

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    I'm no zookeeper. Not yet. But I have kept dozens of species (both at home and as a volunteer at accredited animal sanctuaries) ranging from the exotic to the ubiquitous, and I'd like to think that know what it takes. I know how to mix antibiotics into feed, I know what to do to catch a loose cockatoo or chinchilla, I know how to change bandages, I know that UVB bulbs need to be changed yearly, and I know when I can't handle a situation, the vet needs to be called.

    So I find it shocking that at unaccredited zoos, baby Ring-tailed Lemurs are wondering on the wrong side of the mesh, tigers are roaming enclosures the size of my living room, baby lions are always on display because fruitful western breeding farms sell them for just a few hundred dollars, and, certainly not least, animals go without proper medical care, and some cases, even lack proper grooming. These places never cease to confound me, leaving me with the impression that even I, one with little experience with exotic animals, could do a better job caring for their lions, tigers, and bears.

    Yet roadside zoos are incessantly glorified in the media; coatis and bobcats are always showing up on local news channels, and there is even a "docu-series" on Animal Planet (Which ought to change its name) about an "animal sanctuary" in Maine. The episode I just watched broke my heart. Though the couple that owned the zoo complained about a lack of funds, donkeys, Bennett's Wallabies, Ring-tailed Lemurs, and Mouflon were all allowed to breed freely; their offspring were hand-raised and brought to restaurants for no-cost publicity stunts ("Do you want to look down my shirt?" the zoo owner asks the restaurant goers, before pulling lemur babies from her bosom. "Yes, you can pet them." she continues). Later, a Mouflon falls ill, becoming lethargic and unresponsive. The couple considered calling a vet, but decided against it. The Mouflon recovered, and days later gives birth - a pregnancy that I had detected (pregnant ewes aren't hard to spot...) but they had not. How ignorant must one be to not notice that their sheep has swollen? (On reflection, the poor ewe's symptoms were reminiscent of pregnancy toxemia - but then again, I have little experience with sheep.) It is a shame that Animal Planet airs such horrendous programs.

    I'd like to know what others' experiences with roadside zoos are. I'm certain that some ZooChat members have work experiences in such places, and I'm certain that such an experience would be enormously challenging; please, share your stories.

    Thank you!
     
  2. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    I've never been to a roadside zoo, but I did once stop at a truck stop in Louisiana that had a tiger in a small enclosure. It was pretty awful, but I didn't know if it was illegal or if there was anyone I could call. Years later I did find out that a lot of people know about it, are trying to get the tiger moved, and supposedly it is illegal.

    I'm not surprised Animal Planet airs programs glorifying roadside zoos. Discovery and AP haven't been good in years, and it seems they aren't afraid to harm animals for their ratings. I'm hoping more people will start to see these networks as being ridiculous, but for now, people still see them as authority and that's bad.

    And how do they not know that their animal is pregnant? On one trip to a zoo, I recognized that an elephant was pregnant. Do you know how much I know about elephant husbandry? Basically nothing.
     
  3. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    Overall the public is less tolerant of roadside zoos and also authorities are getting stricter. Let us not forget government authorities recently shut down the awful zoo in Las Vegas, Nevada and I think also one somewhere in the Northeast. In my state of Arizona, I visited two awful small zoos when I moved here two decades ago (Douglas and Payson) but those closed on their own due to lack of visitors.

    I do not own a television, but I recently watched one episode on Hulu on the internet that I think is an Animal Planet show. It was about an exotic animal moving company and it was so awful (they are NOT professionals and were not moving animals from any public zoos) that I would not watch another episode. I think when Discovery decided to do a separate channel for all animals, they ruined it because there is not enough footage to provide quality animal shows 24 hours a day. So they have to fill time with whatever they can get, which is a lot of garbage. Maybe we should get them to do a show on ZooChatters, which would provide higher quality content than a lot of stuff they have now.
     
  4. cloudedleopard

    cloudedleopard Well-Known Member

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    Is it called Wild Transport? It is a good show!
     
  5. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Animal Planet used to be good, and I don't think there should really be much problem creating animal-related shows. Animals are crazy diverse, they've been around for billions of years, and they've had all sorts of history and interaction with humans. Standard nature documentaries. There could be reality shows focused on responsible zoos, sanctuaries, and rescue operations. Shows about different famous biologists, each episode on a different person. Programs about animal history, how humans have interacted with animals, and so on. Programs about extinct animals, both recent and ancient ones. I've got a lot of ideas for shows, really. I've always said that if I ever become one of those super rich people who doesn't know what to do with their money (lol as if) I'd create my own nature-themed TV network.

    Around 2008, or maybe it was 2010, I forget, Animal Planet "relaunched" itself. They got a new logo (which was just block text and removed the elephant) and added the tagline "surprisingly human". The people running the network said they wanted to market to an adult audience and have edgier shows. So there was an increase in dramatic reality TV and sensationalist programming like "Fatal Attractions". I guess in response to internet culture, they also gave more attention to cutesy shows. Maybe that's the reason they gave a show to a roadside zoo rather than a legit one. (well, that, and a roadside zoo might be more desperate for money and willing to stage stuff if asked) Roadside zoos are more likely to put their animals in unnatural situations or get them to do unnatural behaviors for the sake of entertainment or cute factor.
     
  6. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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  7. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    Well considering the source you know the article is biased. When the opening section states that anyone can get a USDA license with a simple application and no experience, it is clear the author has no idea what he or she is talking about. USDA regulations are increasingly difficult and part of the process requires proof that you have experience with exotic animals.

    That being said, I would agree most and maybe all of these facilities are substandard and probably not places I would support. However, to call them horrific cases of animal cruelty is a bit extreme.