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Question: program animals/encounter animals

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Reenie Mastrella, 20 Dec 2020.

  1. Reenie Mastrella

    Reenie Mastrella Member

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    Opinions requested.

    Not sure if all zoos have program animals as the Bronx Zoo does. Their animals used in animal encounters seem to be in cages since there wouldn't be an exhibit for all the different species.

    I have seen the programs director, Kathleen, on the show The Zoo, and it is obvious she loves and nurtures all the animals in her care. Episode S2E1 features a kangaroo, Dave. Kathleen explains how he was rescued and that kangaroos are not solitary animals. Since Bronx Zoo has no kangaroo population, this is probably why Dave became a program animal. (They could have sent him to a zoo with other kangaroos.)

    But it disturbs me that he is in cage. I'm sure the program animals get exercise time. But they're not roaming free, so how humane is it? No disrespect to Bronx Zoo. Love them
     
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  2. Echobeast

    Echobeast Well-Known Member

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    So I work with program animals so I may be able to help.

    The spaces used for program animals at the Bronx is similar to spaces used for program animals at most accredited zoos.

    Calling where these animals live a “cage” brings a negative connotation to the situation and makes it easy to fall into the false idea that these animals are not well cared for. In reality, these spaces are very similar to the back holding areas for almost all species at accredited zoos. What’s nice about these spaces especially for program animals that will rotate species often is the flexibility. You can fit the same space for a warthog for a bird if you perch it properly. Both are appropriate for the various species held and they suffer no welfare consequences.

    It is also not correct to say the kangaroo is not roaming free compared to other animals at a zoo. In reality, all the animals in a zoo are confined to their designated exhibit spaces so there is no “roaming free” even for non program animals. In reality program animals probably have more “freedom” because they get the opportunity to leave their normal habitats and roam the zoo or go outside the zoo to new spaces that many animals never get the chance too.
     
  3. Reenie Mastrella

    Reenie Mastrella Member

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    Thank you for the response. To me, a cage is a cage. I dont like seeing animals confined. I dont like animals in stables all the time, or dogs or ferrets in cages. I guess in reference to zoos, I'm more comfortable with, for example, San Diego's wildlife park where compatible species have lots of room to roam. But I'm not sure if they're confined at night. And I do understand the tradeoff that zoo animals dont suffer painful deaths from disease or predation.
     
  4. TinoPup

    TinoPup Well-Known Member

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    I'm not really sure what your question is. Yes, most zoos have ambassador/education/outreach animals. All zoos must meet USDA's minimum guidelines, and places like Bronx and hundreds of others must meet AZA's strict guidelines to keep their membership. Most are well above.

    All zoo animals are kept in "cages", some just have chain link instead of glass walls or whatever. None are "roaming free". Ambassador animals must be cared for the same as display animals. An animal who isn't being cared for properly, who isn't getting enough exercise, isn't going to be good at working with the public. An animal in poor physical condition also isn't going to be good working with the public, and is going to look back in photos representing the zoo.

    Most animals are confined at night. This is both for their safety and the safety of humans/animals that may break in.
     
  5. Neil chace

    Neil chace Well-Known Member

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    Most ambassador animals are kept in Exhibits of comparable quality to if it was on exhibit- the Exhibits just aren't as aesthetic as you don't need to please visitors with the look- but they are still very functional and high quality.
     
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  6. Echobeast

    Echobeast Well-Known Member

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    I understand your concern but to an animal, these “cages” aren’t confinement. They are appropriate for the species that they house. This is determined by animal experts and behavioral experts that take an animal’s behavior and natural history to make a space that is appropriate for them. To the laymen, this can appear like a cage but as long as they get the appropriate care and enrichment they have amazing quality of life. Also animal ambassador holdings may appear small but you have to think about the opportunities for that animal to leave and go in programs. It makes their available space larger exponentially larger.
     
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