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by Abby Bellezza (6th greade)

 

You want to help animals. You get a difficult choice, a zoo, or a rescue. Which one should you pick? 

So, you might be wondering, what’s the difference between the two? A zoo is a foundation which holds animals. Some zoos have zoos to help animals that are injured. Others just take animals and hold zoos for money. When an animal does something wrong, or someone gets hurt at a zoo, they end up killing an animal. Don’t get me wrong, some zoos are very helpful to animals, like the Elmwood Park Zoo. They are very good at housing animals, and they don’t do it for the cash. I asked one of the zookeepers at Elmwood Park Zoo, Kara, some questions about her job. 

 

Q: What is your favorite part about your job? 

A:My favorite part about my job is seeing the progress animals make in their training programs because everything we train is to help make their lives as stress  free as possible. Whenever the animals make progress it reminds me why I worked so hard to be here. 

Q: How do you respond to criticism people give about zoos? (things people think about wild animals being locked up). 

A. There are some people who are stuck in their ways/opinions and the best I can do is stand my ground and try to take the opportunity to educate the individual about the importance. If they choose not to listen or understand, it is better to use my time and energy to continue to educate those who care to listen. 

Q:What are some benefits of zoos? 

A:They are a safe haven for animals who have been injured in the wild and are not given the opportunity to live their lives out with full care and protection.  Zoos also help to create safety populations for species that are threatened and endangered. 

Q:Why do you think that some people dislike zoos? 

A:Some people think that zoos are only here for entertainment which can be unsettling for people who don’t know the full purpose of these facilities. 

Q:What do you hope kids learn from going to the zoo? 

A:That exotic animals are best to remain in their wild habitat and the best way we can ensure that is by living green, donating to reputable conservation foundations, and spreading the word about the importance of wildlife conservation in hopes to spread enthusiasm and passion. 

In the end, zoos help animals a lot. But, is it really worth choosing over a rescue? 

Rescues and sanctuaries are very important to animals. Zoos might help animals, but rescues can save one's life. The official definition of wildlife rehabilitation is the treatment and temporary care of injured, diseased, and displaced indigenous animals and the subsequent release of healthy animals to appropriate habitats in the wild. I interviewed Tammy Thies, the founder and director of the Wildcat Sanctuary, a sanctuary for big cats. Here’s what she had to say. 

Q:What is your favorite part about your job? 

Tammy Thies, founder and director of the Wildcat Sanctuary

A:I love seeing rescued animals realize that they are a wild cat for the first time as they hide in tall grass, practice their stalking skills and get to make their own choices here at the sanctuary. 

Q:What is the most important difference between a rescue and a zoo? 

A:Sanctuaries do not buy, breed or trade animals. We exist to end the captive wildlife crisis where wild animals are too often kept as pets in standard conditions. 

Q:What do you hope that kids learn from rescues?

A:We hope to educate the public to keep the wild in their heart, not in their home and to adopt appropriate pets. 

Q:What do you think are the pros and cons of zoos?

A:Accredited zoos educate and help conserve species, but sadly roadside zoos also overbreed, exploit and sell many animals to private owners and breeders. 

So, you have a pretty tough choice to make. You have the helping, educating zoos or you have the lifesaving, determined rescues. Which one would you pick?