Melissa cares for a variety of exotic animals and has completed a certificate in veterinary assisting and a bachelor's degree in biology.
Animals—You Think You Know What They ‘Want’
One particular reason that the animal rights, or animal liberation movements, gain so much momentum among not just the public but some members of the scientific community with reasonable intelligence is due to what we do not, and technically cannot,know about animal minds.
Animals in Prison
Q. Are zoo/pet animals prisoners?
Prison: noun 1. a building for the confinement of persons held while awaiting trial, persons sentenced after conviction, etc. 2. state prison. 3. any place of confinement or involuntary restraint. 4. imprisonment.
A. Yes! According to definition #3, if animals are confined, they are imprisoned. This applies to all animals; dogs, cats, squirrels, dolphins, starfish...any confined animal. And this is all regardless of whether or not you think they like it there. There are, however, a few giant differences between human correctional facilities and zoos or pet environments, and differences between humans and animals.
Is Captivity Immoral?
The field of animal cognition has a lot of unexplored territory as we seem to keep discovering surprising facts we did not know about our non-human peers.
Due to limited and feebly understood evidence that suggests some species might not do well in captivity, this creates a great environment for people to make up any conclusions that they wish, and this most certainly will be heavily supplemented with what the human prefers for oneself.
Selfishness is an irrelevant part of whether or not holding captive animals is ethical. When humans keep pets, any pets, it is undeniably selfish—humans began their relationship with animals in order to further their own benefits. Our society's beloved use and ownership of dogs, horses, and cats are no exception. Very few people actually fully object to 'animal exploitation,' and instead favor culturally acceptable forms, including debilitating selective breeding of canines.
What truly matters is if by holding animals as captives we are harming them by causing them unreasonable distress or physical deterioration from denying them access to wild living.
I’m willing to state that I can’t undeniably know for sure the preferences of my animals, domesticated or otherwise (or if they have them). What I can do is make something called an educated guess, applying what I and neutral science knows about animals, my experience with the individual animals, and orchestrating some 'free-choice' experiments with my pets, of which I will explain further. But first, to fully comprehend the ethics, we must have a clear understanding of the alternative to captivity.
This Is How 'The Wild’ Produces 'Happy' and Healthy Animals
When a rehabilitated animal is released into the wild, it's gone, and everyone feels good as images of the animals persevering in the iconic landscape dance in their heads.
Nature thrives in the eyes of romantic humans with its cloak of invisibility—perhaps we only get a small glimpse from the work of dedicated wildlife documentarian filmmakers—those who do not use phony methods.
In reality, animal populations undergo nature's rigorous and ruthless initiation process called natural selection, which is the driving force behind evolution.
Like the selective breeding we accomplish with dogs, certain genes are favored in the process, and the 'fittest' genes are 'chosen' in the wild (and biological fitness is not about physical strength, like the term gym fitness). Unlike most dog breeding, nature simply executes the 'inferior' genes (or the unlucky) in its system, or at best, denies them breeding access.
In other words, natural selection is partially powered by death, most of it wreaking havoc in cute little babies.
It isn't good. It isn't bad. It's just simply the means of which there is life on Earth. Do animals find their premature death any more pleasant because they were sacrificed for the glamorous 'Circle of Life?' No.
Captivity, on the other hand, keeps all of its players alive, so this could unintentionally produce less healthy or mentally less fit individuals (we've intentionally done this with dogs). Everything that goes on in captive situations is on full display, while dead wild animals are mostly quickly consumed before any safari-goer sees them.
Here is an example of how captivity can be far more humane and forgiving.
Some species of monkeys might give birth, determine that a deformity in the baby is too costly to devote precious energy toward, and drop it on the ground to starve to death.
In responsibly conducted captive situations, discarded or poorly cared for baby monkeys are pulled and given individualized attention. Some may claim that mental-illness from the captive environment is the result of such maternal neglect, yet it simply isn't acknowledged that this is proven to occur in nature—and given that we can see and assess every aspect of captive animals while nature is a largely hidden world, much of the atrocities that go on there can be neatly swept under the natural rug.
You also never get to see animals looking 'bored' either. That's because they're too busy trying to survive, or they're fearful of the human holding a camera gawking at them. No wonder animals look so bored in zoos!
The Animal-Human Comparison Fallacy
"Would you want to live in a cage?"
This is a typical appeal to emotion remark exclaimed by those who are against keeping animals in captivity.
My answer is no, I wouldn't want to live in a cage.
And for that matter, I wouldn't want to only be allowed out of my house on a leash either.
Most importantly, I wouldn't want to be cast out into the wild and placed against natural selection's rigorous test of fitness, as I am an animal that is used to living a modern existence.
The same is likely true for all other animals raised in confinement.
Would You Want to Be Ridden On? (Animal Slaves)
Animals Aren't Humans
[The word animal here will be considered to mean non-human]
Q. If a zoo lion could talk, what would it say?
A. If a lion could talk, it wouldn't be a lion. It would be a person. A non-human person.
What are animals?
This is how I see it, and this is what drives my ethics.
Most [warm-blooded] animals are akin to human infants under six months of age, but without the innate need for maternal attachment and with the instinctual and physical prowess for self-sufficiency at their adult stage. Yes, this is simplifying to a huge degree. Animals are equipped with a myriad of unique sensory and cognitive programming and infants are, of course, developing humans so they likely are developing cognitive milestones at different points in this period that I am not equipped to discuss in depth.
Animals are not literally human infants but they have these essential elements in common: no language (no, seriously), little or no self-awareness, instincts (and food-seeking) that dominate behavior, as well as highly stereotyped behaviors. I've suggested that humans are the only species of which you can't answer the question 'describe the behavior of [humans]' with a generalization, yet this can be done with human infants and animal species.
(When you talk to an animal, doesn't it sound like you're talking to a baby? Coincidence?)
Human behavior, initially grounded in genetics, is then substantially molded by culture, society, values, morals, and ethics.
This is why humans are so extraordinarily individualistic. On the other end, some of the most impressive examples of 'animal culture' lie with food forging methods and other aspects strongly grounded in immediate survival (that probably power fitness).
There are undoubtedly parallels in human and animal cognition. That is because there is a continuity in the evolution of our brains that even exist in the invertebrates that the majority of people have no problem stepping on.
I see consciousness as layered; we have the near universal sub-consciousness that powers mechanisms like classical conditioning, another level of cognition in the form of social awareness that invites other individuals into the animal's mental 'world' (or theory of mind), and the very high order of thought that occurs in humans. We possess complex cognition so rich it allows the development of true, infinitely expressive and inventive language. This combines many elements of cognition that no other animal has been proven to achieve (yes, this includes Koko the gorilla, Alex the parrot, and Kanzi the bonobo).
If a Pet Bird Escapes, It Wants to Be Free, Right?
But why am I rambling on about this? Now that I've explained to you my human-infant theory, I want you to ponder how we treat infants, or young children. If a toddler wanders off into potential danger, don't we stop them? We understand that even toddlers who have language and complex self-awareness are still not aware enough to understand the consequences their actions might have; consequences that are certainly not desirable for the child even though the child doesn't know that yet.
Just like animals. Even domesticated animals will run off. Yes, this includes dogs, especially when they are not neutered or spayed (which, shockingly, most non-domesticated pets are not). Yet no one interprets this behavior as a cry for freedom. They probably understand that their dog or cat got confused and headed in the wrong direction, or hormones won the instinctual fight over rationality. We understand that these animals have limited awareness, react compulsively, and cannot rationally weigh the costs of their actions. Should even a 'wild' animal instinctively run away, that doesn't mean they are making a conscious, rational choice to.
Even an injured animal will hobble away from the aid of humans, and why is this? Because it does not and cannot understand that a human will help it. Of course, not even all 'wild' animals run away.
'Born Free' Probably Has a Hard Time Explaining These Videos
So I will. These birds can simply keep flying away and never look back, but don't. This training simply involves shifting an animal's motivation to a behavior it isn't normally instinctively equipped for (returning to a human owner, vs. flocking with a group of birds). Once these non-domesticated birds develop a mental foundation for recalling upon command, they are far less prone to fleeing out of confusion. This is one reason training is so enriching for all captive animals.
What Do Animals Want?
My research and limited understanding has led me to two generalizing conclusions that seem to make sense; animals raised in captivity prefer captivity, and animals raised in the wild prefer the wild. Both of these settings typically provide the 5 freedoms but there can be exceptions or deficiencies in both.
- Animals can suffer both in the wild and captivity, depending on the situation.
- Many captive situations are undeniably superior to wild situations.
- Animals probably do not dwell on human-constructs like the words 'prison' or 'slave.' Instead, they mostly think compulsively and address their immediate needs.
Freedom to starve?
What is freedom? Humans like to think of it as the ability to move around wherever you want. But other important freedoms they might overlook is the freedom from starvation or thirst, freedom from not having shelter or territory, and freedom from no medical care if needed.
What about the freedom to age comfortably? Most animals are condemned to death once they begin to ail. Humans seem to value this freedom, but it is lost on anti-captivity proponents.
So saying animals should be 'free' isn't so simple after all.
Animals are actually very practical. They more than likely do not plague their minds with human self-aggrandizing thoughts. Humans are terrible judges of what animals 'want' because most humans have fanciful perceptions and expectations about their lives.
Of course, many will resent that I think most animals are fine with living in the same space. These are often the same people who do not object to it being done to cows, horses, cats, hamsters, chickens, ect., because of nothing other than culturally-propelled domestication myths.
5 Freedoms of Captivity
Freedom from hunger or thirst
Freedom from discomfort
Freedom from pain, injury or disease
Freedom to express (most) normal behavior
Freedom from fear and distress
This is more than the 'golden rule' of maintaining any animal, it is also the basic interest of all living beings, save modern humans. The five freedoms rule is a heavily simplified grouping that means different things for different species. For instance, with more complex animals like great apes, stable social situations are a requirement but it isn't for hamsters.
Both my spotted genet and green aracari (toucan) return to their cages on their own. The genet generally doesn't have interest in leaving my room, and so far, my toucan has never left the room on his own. Sometimes I carry him out, and he flies back into my room, right to his cage (yet I have little doubt that should I take this bird outside, he will fear-fly away from me). While they were both raised in cages, I've encouraged them to explore on occasion. Genets are solitary, toucans are not.
The toucan does appreciate time out of his cage, but mainly stays in one area of the room, seeming content with this space. I don't even bother closing my door.
My genet occasionally, but not often, leaves the room, explores the balcony, and sometimes goes downstairs, but usually comes running back up at the speed of light in minutes to his cage (video). I view this activity on a web camera, since he is too nervous to leave with me there. This video shows his return complex as I lure him out with food rewards (note the ironic sign). Unsurprisingly, since I do not free feed, my genet seems more apt to 'explore' depending on how hungry he is. In fact, as I tried to encourage him to have positive out-of-room 'excursions' with treats given in my room upon his return, he began to associate this reward with staying in my room and eventually refused to leave again.
This led me to two conclusions: An aviary around the size of my room would be perfectly suitable as permanent housing for green aracaris (my cage is not big enough for this). Permanent housing for spotted genets requires room for running and climbing but enrichment is most important. Since my pets live in small cages, they are allowed time out of them as I see fit. These are my methods for hypothesizing a suitable environment.
I feel these animals have adapted to their situation. Their behavior is not natural, but that's because they're in an unnatural environment. When raised in the wild, animals explore more territory dependent on how many resources they are able to secure in order to survive. For genets, this might require acres of forging. In my house, it requires 50 feet, or successful harassing of their caretaker.
Cognitive Bias and Appeal to Nature
Unfortunately, despite the vast ‘intelligence’ of the human race, we struggle with our diverse cognitive and methodological flaws. In science, objectivity is our only saving grace, and as soon as we deviate from it, our thought processes can no longer be considered reliable.
Much of the captivity criticism is about appeasing human emotional needs. Prevalent in our society is a mentality about ‘nature’ being an inherent force of goodness, so much to the point that it is often not thought objectively about.
It comes as absolutely no surprise that ‘credible’ researchers will make dramatic and unscientific claims about animal minds to push animal liberation goals to the scientifically illiterate (most of the populace, including our legislators that are educated in law, not cognition). However, I believe that in our ignorance, there are still steps we can take to unearth truth and decide who to trust.
What’s at Stake?
Why should we consider captivity? Animal rights ideology is appealing because it seems like a win-win solution. Since most believe that life in the ‘wild’ is the pinnacle of existence, even if possibly incorrect about how animals are faring in captivity, many aren’t willing to objectively consider the benefits of zoos and pet keeping for animals and people.
What if they’re wrong about animals ‘suffering’ in captivity? In the worst case scenario, animals are denied access to a comfortable existence and humans lose numerous wonderful professions, lifestyles, and educational opportunities that were not inherently causing harm.
The quality of wild animal rehabilitation suffers and our understanding of animal psychology diminishes. Potentially successful conservation efforts are also undermined. And the reason will be because of irrational generalizations about how animals respond to captive conditions. Anyone who understands that domesticated animals are suitable for captivity is required to consider the same of any other species. Animals should be judged on a species and individual basis to determine their quality of life.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Valene from Missouri on September 16, 2016:
What an insightful article. As a big supporter of conservation, I always justified the idea of wild animals put on display in captivity with the good they were doing to educate the public about the plight of their wild peers, like ambassadors. Your points make clear that most captive animals are probably not as oppressed as we think.
Frida Nyberg from Sweden on July 26, 2015:
Hazel - For many animals, there is no longer any wild to be in. And if they don't find their own food and shelter? They DIE. That's the "beauty" of the wild.
Hazel Abee from Malaysia on June 29, 2015:
I believe 'safari' is much better then zoo .. Let the animals be in a secluded and protected environment. Let the wildlife be in their own habitat. Let them find their own food and shelter.
Seshagopalan Murali from Chennai, Tamil Nadu on June 29, 2015:
Well made hub. The pictures are awesome. Actually your thought process is very interesting. Would you like to be ridden upon or would you like to be in cage all are kind of new thoughts that deserve appreciation. Good one!
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 29, 2015:
Thank you lctodd1947.
Linda Todd from Charleston on June 27, 2015:
Wow. interesting hub and your knowledge is well written. I love animals and we take excellent care of our babies.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 27, 2015:
I thought I made it pretty clear I'm not interested in your 'critiquing' integrater. You are pretty freakin' rude and passive aggressive. Deny it all you like. Or maybe your English is too poor to communicate the way you want to, again, not my fault. I've had 8 hubs hubpro'd and they do not do ALL of them. So again, you don't know what you're talking about. Go away.
Certified Noob on June 27, 2015:
Thank you for your response . I hope you publish my response to your response .
I guess I rubbed you the wrong way and I apologize . I also apologize if my English offends you but that does not mean my feedback about your hub is incorrect . Being dismissive and insulting is how you seem to deal with differing opinions
Hub title is just a part of the problem . The hub is too long . You write a lot but don't say much . Then there is that Q&A format . It distracts , obstructs the flow and the hub seems to jump from one point to another . This is due to the inherent problem with Q&A format .
I was a bit self-deprecating when I referred to my English . I guess you did not understand that . I assumed you would. Again, it was my mistake , no one should assume anything on the web . There was no issue in understanding your hub barring the fact that I had to read it a second time to understand it . It happened for reasons I mentioned above .
AFAIK, hub-pro has a default opt-in feature . Unless you have opted out or your hub is not among top traffic generators, HP editors will pick your hub for hub pro editing .
I have no bitterness , either for your opinion or your hub . Why should I ? I have no stake here . As I have already stated I am not an animal rights activist . I don't care if people keep tigers, whales , sharks or lizards as pet as long as they (pets, I mean) don't bite me . So your opinion that I am bitter towards your opinion is unfounded . You are justifying or defending your point of view. But that defence is a bit dodgy and unconvincing. Hence my opinion . Some times the best defence to have is not to have a dodgy defence.
Have a nice day/evening/night or whatever it is in your part of the world .
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 26, 2015:
chantelleporter--Ask a starving polar bear that question. I believe one was on the popular documentary series 'Planet Earth'. Three year olds have language so I staunchly disagree with those comparisons. Language signifies the complexity of humans. Ants also have wonderful communicative abilities. Do you believe we have the same level of consciousness?
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 26, 2015:
integrater-- Thanks for the laugh. Making negative comments about my writing when I can barely read yours...yeah, I'll get right on it. This is an English language hub and if you cannot read English, that is not my problem. People who are fluent in English can understand my title, it is not tricky or strangely-worded at all. One cannot choose to put their articles through hubpro editing, FYI.
You'll have to find a better way to express your bitterness toward my opinion.
Certified Noob on June 26, 2015:
I hope you do publish this comment. It is a feedback on writing and the hub topic.
I request you to put this hub through Hub-pro editing. It needs sharp and massive editing. It is a very good example of an interesting topic dealt with in an uninteresting manner. I had to will myself to read the entire hub . It could have been shorter and you wouldn't have missed anything in doing so .
I hope you have not created Hub Title keeping SEO in mind . Your hub comes up on the first page of the SERP's but I am still trying to understand the Hub title . What does it mean exactly, the hub title ? Does it mean that Zoo is not an animal prison? Or does it mean that the fact that Zoo is an animal prison is insignificant enough not to matter ? Or does it mean that Zoos are animal prisons is incorrect ? It is not a very good idea to confuse your reader at the title . But then I am an ETL(English Third Language) person and my English might not be good enough to make sense of your Hib title. Here is a brilliant hub by CreativeGenius I read yesterday . Hope it helps
Your hub reminds me of a Hub I wrote quite a few years back using Q&A format but on a completely different topic.
Now about your hub :
I don't really understand where do I start ? If I write about all the "shortcomings" in your hub my comment might become longer thnan your hub :) . Some of these have already been voiced by other commenters.
Your whole premise seems to be based on your assumption that Humans are "different" from animals . However what your hub implies is that Humans are "better" than animals and are hence free to take decisions on the animal's behalf . Being differernt and being better is not the same thing .
Animals raised in captivity "prefer" Captivity ?
I disagree. I guess the very concept of freedom is either beaten out or bribed out from a captive animals mind to such an extent that an unchained captive elephant will not make an attempt to make a run for it and a caged bird will not fly away even when it is out of cage. Actually we have taken away something from the animal and given the animal something in return . But the funny thing is we have no idea how important that "something" is to an animal which we have taken away . We "assume" that it is not very important just because it suits us .
There are many other loop holes in your defense but may be I will write a counter hub .
Note : I am not an Animal Rights Activist or anything of that type . So please don't label me as one .
Chantelle Porter from Ann Arbor on June 26, 2015:
I cannot believe that a polar bea, which ranges hundreds of miles in the wild, prefers to be in a tiny pool with a block of ice. To say that animals don't have language, which is true, misses the point. They have a communication system; it just isn't yours. Many animals have been taught words. (Chase, a Border Collie, knows 1500 human words.) Pigs have been shown to have the intelligence of a three year old and yet we continue to entrap animals for our amusement and rationalize it by pretending we are doing them a favor. Sad.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 20, 2015:
Thank you Rakim.
Rakim Cheeks on April 20, 2015:
Very interesting hub. Melissa. All of your information was on point, and it was well written. Great job! I enjoyed reading it
Akriti Mattu from Shimla, India on April 20, 2015:
I'd really appreciate your point of view on :
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 19, 2015:
Why thank you Akriti.
Akriti Mattu from Shimla, India on April 19, 2015:
This is such a well informed post.
the2nd3rd on April 06, 2015:
Again, you're just thrashing about with that "ego that's on overdrive" stuff. I guess it sounds cute and cool, but where's your substance? It makes no sense and means nothing; mere sloganeering.
Christianity was not "randomly" brought into the conversation. It was APPROPRIATELY brought into the conversation. The fact that you're hyper-sensitive to any less-than glorifying references to your belief system is your problem.
Positively Ms. Troll! That's me, and proud of it! I like women (people) who are smart and aware enough to choose not to eat animal carcasses. Yes indeedy! Ever the clever one (or so you think LOL).
But if you construe this to mean that I have some belief system by my not wanting a "religious" woman or, then your critical thinking skills are quite obviously worse than I suspected! :)
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 05, 2015:
"My argument is not that zoos and many private owners spaces are bad for animals because they don't account for animals' wishes, desires and wants; but because zoos and these people keep animals strictly or most oftentimes for human greed, entertainment and ego."
My article addresses this specifically. If you feel you get to decide what actions we should be able to do based on how it makes YOU feel, I'm afraid it is YOUR ego that's on overdrive.
"The phrase "keeps all of its players alive" is obviously a citation of conservation as a benefit of captivity."
No, it's not. It's an argument for the BENEFITS to animals that wish to stay alive, as you just originally argued they wanted!
"Then I'll dumb this down for you. Christianity clicks with so many people for the reason you accuse "captivity critics" - it appeases "human emotional needs"."
Actually I was asking what the POINT was of randomly bringing up Christianity. But please don't answer, I see there's no rhyme or reason to your madness. Time for me to move on.
"but I subscribe to no belief systems"
Oh, this isn't you?
"Looking for Vegan, Non-Religious Woman"
the2nd3rd on April 05, 2015:
It's also highly presumptuous of you to assume that I "hate" Christianity or that I hate Christians. I give Christians all the love and respect I give to the little neighbor boy next door, who insists that he has an imaginary "friend" named "Bob".
Neither I nor the little boy's parents ever challenge the existence of his "friend". We understand, like most adults, that (until the little guy grows up and gains more awareness) "Bob" might be as "real" to him as "God" is to any religious adherent.
the2nd3rd on April 05, 2015:
Then I'll dumb this down for you. Christianity clicks with so many people for the reason you accuse "captivity critics" - it appeases "human emotional needs". I gave you too much credit for knowledge you simply do not have. My bad. So no need to continue scratching that head of yours. :)
Sorry to disappoint you but one does not "make up" delusions. Were you sleeping during your English classes. I suppose you've never seen the inside of a logic or philosophy class either have you?
And what did I tell you about the temper of yours? Tsk tsk tsk. That's a pretty filthy tongue you've got there! Your words are indicative of someone desperately grasping at straws to save face, but the more you grasp and thrash the deeper you sink. LOL
Show me where I used the term "delusion" in reference to Zoo Zealots. There you go again, transferring your errors and issues to someone else. First it was poor Timothy. And you've tried it unsuccessfully with me and it will never work. So you're the one making things up - and out of sheer ignorance and desperation.
Again, sorry to burst your stereotypical "bubble", but I subscribe to no belief systems, Christianity, veganism, animal rights, Tooth Fairyism, Feminism, Taoism or any others you might try to dredge up. LOL
Thanks for allowing me to expose you in all of your pompous ignorance! :)
the2nd3rd on April 05, 2015:
I forgot to address your claim that your subtitle ("Animals—you think you know what they ‘want’—you have no idea.") "AIDS" your argument. It surely does not. Whatever non-human animals "want" or don’t “want”, they don't deserve to be kidnapped, confined and bred in zoos or anywhere.
All this subtitle of yours does, (as I said in my original response) is take us down yet another pointless path; neither proving nor convincing me either that pet owners are akin to zookeepers, that zoos are OK or that anyone in the animal rights movement claims to know details of animals “wants”.
My argument is not that zoos and many private owners spaces are bad for animals because they don't account for animals' wishes, desires and wants; but because zoos and these people keep animals strictly or most oftentimes for human greed, entertainment and ego.
Anyone claiming to know what any non-human animal "wants" (beyond freedom to live in his natural habitat unmolested by human animals) is lying. We never seriously make that claim, though we may whimsically suggest it from time to time. I've never spoken with any animal rights activist seriously claiming to know exactly what any non-human animal wants.
So you don't "use the conservation argument ever". Really? Then what's this, but an argument using conservation ("Captivity on the other hand keeps all of its players alive") as an argument? The phrase "keeps all of its players alive" is obviously a citation of conservation as a benefit of captivity.
By the way, I wouldn't mind seeing mass spaying and neutering of dogs and cats, to the point where they are no longer kept by any humans. We have done a great deal of harm to these animals; both in "shelters", as strays on our streets, and in abusive and neglectful residential spaces. They too, need to be left alone after sufficient attrition has occurred.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 05, 2015:
the2nd3rd-- Oh sure you read it, but you didn't READ it. In other words, you didn't process it.
"Hmmm, sounds like Christianity to me. But I don't imagine you'd ever confuse a "captivity critic" with a "real" red-blooded Christian, now would you?"
What..the..fu...? I sat here for a while trying to figure out why you've said this to me, and I'm drawing a blank. What does Christianity have to do with ANYTHING in this article or discussion? I think you must have some immature obsession with it.
"Your last sentence connects "captivity critics" and irrational "emotions" with failure to think "objectively" (or bias) and by extension, "cognitive bias". So you did in fact and clearly say (not verbatim, of course - you're trying to be clever here) by implication and through context (via exclusive reference to "captivity critics") that we are the only ones saddled with "cognitive bias". You Zoo Zealots on the other hand, are not mentioned at all."
Listen, saying A is a result of B doesn't mean that C isn't a result of B. You are making up delusions in your mind. This article is NOT about any such delusions zoo people might have, it is about the delusion that animals are humans that 'want' to be 'free'. I don't need to state that zookeepers, policemen, teachers, and plumbers might also have beliefs that involve cognitive bias. You need to stop 'reading into' my comments because you're terrible at it.
"you then took a flawed premise and tried vainly to ferret out every piece of data you thought might impress then convince the casual reader of your flawed argument. I'm just calling you on it."
You have an affinity for trying to put me down with a lot of hot air accusations that have no basis in reality. I can assure you, they aren't working. Why would I put any stock into the opinion of someone that is so delusional they don't even know what my article literally says, or who randomly brings up Christianity because they probably have some useless beef with it?
"Contrarily, I am in no way an ideologue. I subscribe to no belief systems."
I know you probably 'hate' religion but you are pretty much following one in my eyes. Your comments are almost to the level that I shouldn't be dignifying them with responses. You don't get to decide which homes are "loving" just by the nature of the species being kept. I can't fathom the stupidity of that line of thinking. But maybe that means you're at least accepting of exotic pet ownership? Why do I doubt that?
"What?!! Your use of the word "importance" here is vague at best. But the last sentence "...so zealots can gain some perspective into their damage". What in the world are you trying to say here?"
No, it's not vague at all. Maybe you just can't read.
"Leave animals alone to work these things out naturally. Stop trying to play "God" with everything. "
Make me. Who are you my daddy? You can't tell me what to do, sorry (nor can he). I'm picking up a green tree python on the 19th...oh no! the2nd3rd doesn't want me to!
'Goes and gets Easter dinner'
the2nd3rd on April 05, 2015:
Firstly, I did read (mind you, with justifiable incredulity) and re-read your entire essay, and gave it the respect of reading it very carefully. Sorry, but I in fact "missed" nothing in it. So your claiming that ("I think you missed a lot of what I said") I did is nonsense, especially in light of the detail and extent of my response - here for all to see. It's clearly evident that it is you who have missed much of what I have had to say.
The only "problem" I or anyone would have here is sorting through the "chaff" to get to the "wheat" of your argument. You take the reader on a series of pointless wild goose chases (pardon the pun) in search of proof for your point, but come up empty. The overarching "problem" though, is that your argument is baseless, convoluted and unsubstantiated.
Here is where (by direct implication) your article says that only captivity critics have cognitive bias:
"Much of the captivity criticism is about appeasing human emotional needs. Prevalent in our society is a mentality about ‘nature’ being an inherent force of goodness, so much to the point that it is often not thought objectively about."
Here's how you do it. You first associate "captivity criticism" with an attempt to "appease human emotional needs" (Hmmm, sounds like Christianity to me. But I don't imagine you'd ever confuse a "captivity critic" with a "real" red-blooded Christian, now would you?).
Your last sentence connects "captivity critics" and irrational "emotions" with failure to think "objectively" (or bias) and by extension, "cognitive bias".
So you did in fact and clearly say (not verbatim, of course - you're trying to be clever here) by implication and through context (via exclusive reference to "captivity critics") that we are the only ones saddled with "cognitive bias". You Zoo Zealots on the other hand, are not mentioned at all.
By the way, the labyrinthine, pointless "proofs" of your argument were in fact just about "10" in number, requiring me to address them each, for the sake of thoroughness. The fact that there are in aggregate "repetitively" irrelevant to your point is not my fault but yours.
Your problem quite obviously is that your essay is ideologically-driven, belief-based, and flawed. You then took a flawed premise and tried vainly to ferret out every piece of data you thought might impress then convince the casual reader of your flawed argument. I'm just calling you on it. And yes, your bogus claim that pet owners' homes are as much prisons as zoos is preposterous.
It is at best a giant leap of logic to equate the two environments; one comprised of loving homes/sanctuaries where the pets’ needs are provided for out of love - the other being for-profit institutions with all of the negatives entailed therein. It's fine to slip through, but to be stuck on stupid is inexcusable. Then again, ideologies and belief systems are prone to producing the kind of Pablum in your article and your response to me.
Contrarily, I am in no way an ideologue. I subscribe to no belief systems. Yet I realize that people making ideology-based assertions such as yours (and to be fair, from all sides, including some on my side) tend to get too emotionally invested in the outcomes (scores) of discussions such as this, instead of seeking solutions. There's no need to get hyper-sensitive and emotional about it.
So I did not get "angry" at your mistaken characterization of my home as a prison. First, whatever "homes" you're referring to are not mine. So there's no need for me to take anything personally in this regard. My statement was simply meant to correct your general misconception that zoos are no less "prisons" than the loving homes of carents. Homes (actually houses, places or areas) where pets are mistreated can be worse – even MUCH worse than zoos.
That you would say "GOOD!!!" at the mistaken thought that I was angry speaks much more to anger (and perhaps other issues) on your end. You're just-stated rationale for wanting pet owners etc. "to feel what we feel" is muddled. And you're going force us to "embrace" what term? "Prison"? I don't need you to make me "embrace" any term, much less that one. I've used it long before coming to this site. But I use the term appropriately, and in reference to zoos, dolphinaria and private houses where animals are mistreated.
Again, I'm sufficiently-informed (at least for the purposes of this discussion) of the rigors of Darwinism and "Natural Selection". It still has nothing to with whether zoos are good places for animals. It doesn't explain how and why you would appoint humans to have dominion over animals in their natural habitat. What is the source of your species-centrism. Is it some religious belief system upon which you rely for such a crazy argument?
Another problem you have is clarity in your writing. Take this tidbit of drivel for example (mixed metaphor and all):
"Animal captivity is just like motor vehicles: there are negatives (car crashes, road kill, pollution) positives (people can move around efficiently) and essentials (ambulances and fire trucks). There just happens to be some importance to some forms of animal captivity that should be mentioned so zealots can gain some perspective into their damage."
What?!! Your use of the word "importance" here is vague at best. But the last sentence "...so zealots can gain some perspective into their damage". What in the world are you trying to say here?
There are several others I could select, but I'll leave them alone for now. In the meantime I'll address this gem of confusion and nonsense:
"5 Freedoms of Captivity
Freedom from hunger or thirst
Freedom from discomfort
Freedom from pain, injury or disease
Freedom to express (most) normal behavior
Freedom from fear and distress"
Leave animals alone to work these things out naturally. Stop trying to play "God" with everything. Zoo zealots need to be more concerned with providing these "freedoms" to the humans with whom they are overpopulating the planet. That would constitute the proper exercise of “dominion” and “stewardship”, not capturing and incarcerating animals for entertainment and profit. We have burgeoning resource shortages of all kinds and a present human population of 7,000,000 people. We'll have 9,000,000 people by 2050. Lose your ideologies and get your priorities straight, people!
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 04, 2015:
the2nd3rd-- Here is your problem. If you would quit trying to say 'everything you are trying to say is wrong' to me in 10 different ways with the use of SAT words, you might actually formulate a point that is worth arguing about. Also, getting emotional poisons your already rebuttal-starved comments. After reading your many accusations (I'm trying to impress the reader, my information is irrelevant, my thesis is weak, my arguments are unconvincing, my article has pretty pictures and superfluous facts, I have disdain for animal rights, I bore and confuse the reader), many of which you repeated multiple times:
"litany of useless factoids and images"
"superfluous “facts” and pretty pictures"
...you move on to heavily criticize a highly context-dependent sub-heading title that actually AIDS MY ARGUMENT.
"It’s readily observable that each one surely wants to live."
Welp, a big point I was making is that captivity is in the direct interest of this goal that all animals have. Did you miss the part about biological fitness, and how healthy, strong animals are made in the wild by the deaths of others? I think you missed a lot of what this article said. I think you didn't want to READ this article, you made up things in your mind about what this article was saying, because you are dead-set on believing that zoos and zookeepers are evil. That is immature and irrational.
You got angry when I called your home, that has a dog in it, a prison.
That is exactly the point. I want all pet keepers who hate zoos and exotic pet owners to get angry and feel what we feel. Zookeepers and pet owners of non-domesticated animals are tired as hell of hearing that, so I want them to embrace the word.
"As I’ve said, you can’t reasonably equate pet ownership with zoo and dolphinaria exploitation."
I can, I have, and I will. Go ahead and reply and tell me I can't again. I don't 'justify' zoos or pet ownership. I don't play into the animal rights activist's game. Justifying something implies there is something WRONG with it. Animal testing needs justification. Breeding dogs to have deformities needs it too. The act of having an animal in captivity needs no justification if it is being properly conducted, period. I do not use the conservation argument, EVER, to justify anything. There are, however, some conservation efforts that are dependent on captive breeding.
Animal captivity is just like motor vehicles: there are negatives (car crashes, road kill, pollution) positives (people can move around efficiently) and essentials (ambulances and fire trucks). There just happens to be some importance to some forms of animal captivity that should be mentioned so zealots can gain some perspective into their damage.
"And do you really think that “cognitive bias” exists only among captivity critics? Surely you jest! I’m not sure you can be any more wrongheadedly judgmental. You can’t possibly expect to be taken seriously making a silly statement such as that."
Where in my article does it say "only captivity critics have cognitive bias"? Are you kidding? Now you're just making up crap as you go along. You need to sit back and search deep within your mind if you want to even stand a chance of debating me successfully.
the2nd3rd on April 04, 2015:
This is the second part of my comment, which I was unable to include because of the space limit.
I would first like to correct something I said, which was my statement responding to yours about "most" pet owners and their behavior toward animals, which I will accept on its face. I have no way of knowing for sure if carents like me are in the minority, but I think it's safe to say that people like me do not constitute the majority of pet owners.
Here's the rest of my comment:
Here is another problematic statement you make, which leads to yet more non sequitur logic as you try to support a flawed thesis: “I’m willing to state that I can’t undeniably know for sure the preferences of my animals, domesticated or otherwise (or if they have them). What I can do is make something called an educated guess, applying what I and neutral science knows about animals, my experience with the individual animals, and orchestrating some 'free-choice' experiments with my pets, of which I will explain further. But first, to fully comprehend the ethics, we must have a clear understanding of the alternative to captivity.”
We don’t need to “know” (much less “undeniably know”) the preferences of our pets in order to provide for their needs. What we need to do is stop encroaching on and poisoning their habitat. What we need to do is leave them alone in that “circle of life” to which you allude. And this stuff about “neutral science” is so rhetorical. Can’t you come up with a better way of saying that there are scientists with whom you disagree, rather than discounting and demeaning their work and views because they conflict with your own?
You spend so much time defending your captivity concept with misleading rehashes of pointless rhetoric masquerading as facts, that you’ve lost track of what’s really important; the rights of animals to lives of their own, free of human harm and meddling. What is it about the concept of leaving animals alone, which animal exploiters and their apologists do not understand? If living in the wild is tougher (by human standards) than living among humans, so be it. To claim that we’re doing them a favor by taking them out of the wild and institutionalizing them is disingenuous at best. They don’t need our help conserving their numbers or living high-quality lives. Your argument is very species-centric and of very little value to any fair-minded and rational person.
And do you really think that “cognitive bias” exists only among captivity critics? Surely you jest! I’m not sure you can be any more wrongheadedly judgmental. You can’t possibly expect to be taken seriously making a silly statement such as that. Cognitive bias exists among humans everywhere. But again, attacking animal rights activists as the only people subject to such bias is completely false. Ascribing sinister or otherwise unsavory motives (“to push animal liberation goals to the scientifically illiterate (most of the populace”)) to animal rights activists is reprehensible. The bottom line here are the motives of the people whose exploitation of animals you support, which is obviously greed and undeserved dominion.
the2nd3rd on April 04, 2015:
Why Zoos May or May Not Be Animal prisons and why whether they are or not doesn’t matter.
This article, with its tortured attempts to impress the reader (with superfluous “facts” and pretty pictures) about animals, humans, their differences etc. ad nauseam, does not prove anything, other than that the writer appears more concerned with citing irrelevant information to prove an extremely weak and specious thesis; that zoos are OK. I see lots of references to information (presumably facts of which we are unaware) which is supposed to buttress the argument that zoos serve a worthy purpose, and several veiled put-downs of animal rights activists, but nothing in the way of even one good reason for having zoos.
The title of your article “Why Zoos Are Animal Prisons and Why That Doesn’t Matter” merely hints at your disdain for the animal rights movement. That’s fair enough; for you to have a strong opinion about zoos and animal rights activists. But you fail to make even one convincing argument for your case; instead, choosing to bore and confuse the reader with your supposed mastery of the topic, exhibited by a litany of useless factoids and images, apparently meant to demonstrate unassailable subject knowledge and by extension, the validity of your argument.
You press on by stating: “Animals—you think you know what they ‘want’—you have no idea.”
Of course we have ideas! And we have some very clear ideas at that - about what every living sentient creature wants – through behavior which clearly demonstrates their intentions. It’s readily observable that each one surely wants to live. Surely you won’t try to deny that, will you? They behave in a myriad of different ways to protect themselves and offspring, among other things. To suggest that we have “no idea” of this is absurd. To suggest that because some non-human animals abandon their offspring means that humans must come to the rescue by zoo-ifying them is ridiculous. Such fallacious logic creates the stepping stones to institutional breeding of these animals and worse; which is the situation we find today at dolphinaria like Seaworld and zoos worldwide.
You go on to say “One particular reason that the animal rights, or animal liberation movements, gain so much momentum among not just the public but some members of the scientific community with reasonable intelligence, is due to what we do not, and technically cannot know about animal minds.” Here’s the actual truth, plainly and simply: The main reason that the animal rights movement has gained whatever “momentum” it has, is “due to” readily-observable facts concerning non-human animals (many behaviors of course having to do with survival) and humans’ horrible treatment of these animals, which transcends species. We don’t need necessarily (as you erroneously specify), to “know about animal minds”, at least to the extent inferred by your statement.
Every non-human animal has a survival instinct, as does every human animal. Every non-human animal has a desire to procreate and is naturally disposed (when their environments are not encroached upon and interfered with by humans and when they are left alone by humans) to living freely (independently) to one extent or another; whether living in a social group or alone. And just as a reminder, non-human animals aren’t the only animals to abandon their young… or kill them as do some human mothers. These facts are undeniable and alone are enough to sink the argument you make that it’s OK (in fact beneficial) to captivate (hold, keep or whatever other euphemisms one conjures up) non-human animals in zoos.
There are so many more points in your article with which I disagree that I will cite as many of them (respectfully and in good faith) as possible given my present time constraints.
“Animals in prison
Q. Are zoo/pet animals prisoners?
Prison: noun 1. a building for the confinement of persons held while awaiting trial, persons sentenced after conviction, etc. 2. state prison. 3.any place of confinement or involuntary restraint. 4. imprisonment.
A. Yes! According to definition #3, if animals are confined they are imprisoned. This applies to all animals; dogs, cats, squirrels, dolphins, starfish...any confined animal. And this is all regardless of whether or not you think they like it there. There are however, a few giant differences between human correctional facilities and zoos or pet environments, and differences between humans and animals.”
Most urban human communities in which I have ever lived are not natural or good environments for dogs and cats to survive on their own. Since humans continue breeding dogs for profit and treating cats irresponsibly (not spaying and neutering etc.), these poor animals are left to the mercy of those of us willing to adopt them and take them into our homes.
You erroneously lump pet owners into one group by saying: “When humans keep pets, any pets, it is undeniably selfish—humans began their relationship with animals in order to further their own benefits. Our society's beloved use and ownership of dogs, horses, and cats are no exception. Very few people actually fully object to 'animal exploitation', and instead favor culturally acceptable forms, including debilitating selective breeding of canines.”
Again, what you state above does not apply to me or any carents, who are totally against breeding of animals for any reason, much less for ego or financial gain.
Contrary to what you state, my home and the homes of other loving and responsible carents are not “prisons”. Our homes are in fact sanctuaries. And it’s playing the moral equivalence game for you to say that what we do is necessarily “selfish” (because such motives are part of human history), implying an erroneous equivalence with the highly questionable motives of zookeepers. Our homes are not necessarily perfect places for these animals to live, but they are far better than any zoo, gas chamber, being trained to fight other dogs, or any number of other horrible hazards faced by dogs and cats at human hands. And we surely (unlike any zoo) do not profit from keeping pets in our homes.
Your article takes us down a number of seemingly relevant yet fruitless avenues, all presumably in pursuit of substantiation for your basic thesis (that zoos are not so bad and that animal rights activists appeal to ignorance in us), none of which you prove – none of which prove your point. They appear cogent at first glance, but turn out as futile attempts at gaining credibility for your argument. As I’ve said, you can’t reasonably equate pet ownership with zoo and dolphinaria exploitation. Nor does what happens to “released” animals have any bearing on whether animals should be put into zoos in the first place. Your obtuse references and back-handed attacks on the animal rights movement and in defense of zoos smacks of the same phony “conservationist” arguments perpetrated by Seaworld shills like Jack Hanna.
Defining animals for us also completely misses your point and smacks of condescension or an argument looking for a point. Nor are the “differences between humans and animals” of any value in support of your claim. Just because there are intellectual and other differences between human and non-human animals has nothing whatsoever to do with whether zoos are generally good or bad places for animals. So what if “dominion” is involved in each case (pet caretaking and zoo keeping)? That’s a pretty lame excuse for abducting animals from the wild and exploiting them for so-called “educational” purposes; knowing full well that is not really and truly our purpose. We exploit these creatures for our entertainment and for money.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 04, 2015:
Thanks ZookeeperByNature, my bird and genet both go back and forth to their cages when allowed out.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 04, 2015:
Quan Duong-- That is the point, natural selection forces the deaths of many babies. In our society, we frown upon Social Darwinism/eugenics, and our pets generally enjoy the same standards. We do not not typical kill animals (or people) for imperfections, regardless of any of the consequences of fitness. We can afford to do this because we've largely removed ourselves from nature. Overtly deformed animals can live and we don't have to breed them. Domesticated dogs are an example of an extreme enhancement of unnatural and undesirable traits, so we can hardly be concerned about the effect it has on other animals. You bring up a good point, maybe or need to save every individual is 'selfish', just another reason why the word shouldn't be so damning.
Quan Duong from NY, Hanoi on April 04, 2015:
In response to “Here is an example of how captivity can be far more humane and forgiving.”
If a mother monkey decides to discard an offspring, she highly likely wouldn’t be doing that for no reason, but rather because either:
1. A deformity in the baby makes it too costly for her to invest energy into. In acting “humanely and forgivingly”, e.g. investing energy more costly than nature intends, offenders are not promoting a sustainable, self-regulating, self-managing system but rather a wasteful, dependent and shortsighted one because for how long can human keep being involved with taking care of unfit samples of other species when it has tonnes of unsolved deterioration of its own?
2. There’s a deeper cause for the deformity, where the offspring could be genetically unfit for the natural condition at the time, and thus must be selected out for the long term benefit of its species. In being “humane and forgiving”, these unfit samples are given individualized attention to be able to survive and pass on unfit features to the next generation (assuming that zoo staffs don’t waste more energy to prevent these unfit samples from breeding within the captive group). Here again the shortsighted vision is clear.
So I guess it is not an emotional need that is sought after here, but an ethical one, which are personal, individualistic needs all the same while ignoring the universal need for long term sustainability.
ZookeeperByNature on April 02, 2015:
Wonderful article! I've always thought about this subject myself - obviously the term "unforgiving wilderness" wasn't coined for nothing.
As for birds, I've adopted two (untamed) parakeets who wouldn't leave their cage for anything. I could even leave their cage door open and walk out of the room for a minute - no interest in leaving. So much for wanting to be free. I could give them all the opportunity in the world, but they would much rather be in a cage where they are separated from predators and where free food shows up.
Uzair Mehmood from USA, TX on April 02, 2015:
I must say that you have written this hub beautifully and you have tried to explain each and every aspect. Now I believe that animals and humans need each other and if humans have this superior status in the universe than it should be proven by them; by expressing love, care and affection towards all other creatures. Take care of nature (animals, plants, birds, fish and other natural resources) because in return nature will take care of you.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 28, 2015:
Excellent Melissae, let me know if you need any more points.
Melissa Reese Etheridge from Tennessee, United States on March 28, 2015:
Thank you for such an intelligent and well written HUB. I may use it in class as a topic of debate.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 28, 2015:
Hannah David Cini-- Of course. It is not entirely literal, I'm referring more to their mental condition, level of awareness, ect. I wouldn't say animals [warm-blooded] have 'superior' cognitive traits than infants, just different, channeled in different areas so to say. People say this about (adult) humans and animals, which I do not agree. Animals that are shown to be self-aware are more comparable to early self-aware young children. Some animals have very impressive so-called intelligence, even animals like honey bees. They can do things we and certainly infants can't, but it wouldn't be too easy to find a reasonable person who believes they have similar awareness to a human, so those bare cognitive traits I am less interested in. That's what I was getting at. Thanks!
Hannah David Cini from Nottingham on March 28, 2015:
A very interesting read. Your infant - animal theory is interesting although I would disagree slightly because I believe that there cognitive abilities and communication skills are far superior to an infant but I will admit to limited knowledge on the subject so may be misguided.
My take on captivity is very similar to yours. I think it all comes down to motive and commitment. If we are doing it knowing it is not in the animals best interest it but for selfish reasons then maybe not so much. Also if we keep an animal captive and are not committed to fully meeting its needs then again I would query it. However there are many cases where I don't think there is any harm done.
A very thought provoking hub.
Rakim Cheeks on March 28, 2015:
Interesting hub Melissa! I tend to think as human beings we forget the quality of animals and their freedoms. As you stated in your hub, selfishness, which is a terrible act among a person. We can't forget, animals are living things just like human beings. Therefore, they have rights and deserve to live a good life. Again, great hub. Enjoyed it!
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 27, 2015:
I agree Carol, it depends. I'm against both generalizations of captivity being all sunshine or nature being inherently superior. Animals are lucky that their needs are much lesser than ours apparently are.
carol allison on March 27, 2015:
For me I think it all depends. Zoos can be great for animals and also a great teaching experience for the general population to learn about the natural world. But then you have some zoos around the world, who don't take care of the animals the way they need to be taken care. Also you hear horror stories of abuse with captive animals. This is sad and more regulations should be set in place to prevent this. As far as pet ownership, it can be good or it can be bad. A dog can have wonderful owners who feed him well and ensure his mental well being, so his life is better than it would be in the wild and the dog i s perfectly happy. On the other hand, you have the Michael Vick's of the world. I don't see owning an animal as being bad or good, it all depends on the person taking responsibility for that animal. I own animals on my homestead and it's a very symbiotic relationship. My free range chickens for example, eat bugs out of the garden. They scratch through the horse poo killing parasites that could harm my horses, and the lay tasty eggs. In return we feed them, keep them free of parasites, and just really watch over their health. Now I've gotten crap from people about owning chickens for eggs because they imagine horrible egg farms where chickens are kept in tiny cages. But all I can do is laugh when my "mistreated" chickens walk around like they own the place. They are in fact free ranged 24/7, no coop and run. No they go where they please and sleep in the barn at night not locked up. They could leave my property at any time, but they chose not too. Why? Well because they are comfortable here. Life is easier on them here. All they worry about is walking around eating and that's about the extent of it. So for anyone who says all animal captivity is wrong, remember it's not about the fact of weather or not the animal is in captivity, but if the animal is content where he is and that he is being taken care of properly.
Bob Bamberg on March 26, 2015:
You're right, Melissa...the distinction being sarcasm with criticism. Sarcasm and irony can, indeed, be funny when they're not meant as serious criticism.
Reasonable people can and will disagree, but can and should do so agreeably. As I've said before, debate can be interesting (and should be embraced somewhat) because one can learn from it.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 26, 2015:
No Bob, the use of sarcasm with criticism is almost always with malicious intent. 'Timothy', instead of bringing his arguments to me in a concise manner, opted to try to belittle my statements with various strawmans such as suggesting I stated that animals should be removed from nature and imprisoned, and pure simple mockery, trying to make my statements SOUND bad through appeal to majority reasoning (chihuahuas are tiny and therefore overtly harmless, saltwater crocodiles are scary and huge, notice how he didn't pick a doberman vs. a monitor lizard).
He is being sarcastic because he doesn't know how to argue his point in a way that refutes my arguments (and he is also doing so in his last reply, he does NOT think his reply deserves to be mocked, he is NOT refraining from using sarcasm, and he not considering that my readers are not seeing things his way), he is just resorting to ad hominems.
Bob Bamberg on March 26, 2015:
Don't feel bad Timothy, I've pretty much learned my lesson about using sarcasm and irony in the written format. I've come to realize that it works well in verbal communication because you can temper it with a whimsical or mischievous look on your face, or a certain inflection or tonal quality. But, alas, it doesn't work well...comes off as unfriendly, I think...in writing. Just sayin'
Timothy on March 26, 2015:
i apologize for the "completely ridiculous" format of that post of mine; it truly is deserving of mockery. i should have considered the possibility that an article's author would NOT want to know how her readers are interpreting said article.
i hope to resolve my "reading comprehension issues" and i'll refrain from using sarcasm and/or irony to make a point as it is "bizarre" and apparently gives the impression that i'm "on some special medications."
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 26, 2015:
I'm guessing that what makes the sanctuaries 'good' is that they are all supposedly trying to shut everyone including themselves down, so their followers eat from the palms of their hands. It is silly. Big Cat Rescue often states that not all 'sanctuaries' are the angels that they present themselves to be. Their 911 Animal Abuse page lists several 'offenders' for calling themselves sanctuaries while they breed animals. Most people savvy to this issue understand the distinctions between the names, I think, others are just confused.
I did write one article about sanctuaries and their massive donations, stepping in and presenting less financially well-off facilities as terrible: http://captiveanimallogic.blogspot.com/2015/02/bpr...
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 26, 2015:
Thanks for these 'interpretations' Timothy. They show that you have a lot of reading comprehension issues and I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do about it? Do you want me to correct you?
"can a part of something be irrelevant to that something?"
Whether or not the keeping of animals is 'selfish' is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is the welfare of the animals. I can help to rehabilitate a wild animal because I do not enjoy suffering, which is selfish. Yet, it doesn't seem so unethical regardless.
"well then what are we doing here in front of our computers!? why isn't everyone out scooping up every single one of those cute little babies!?"
This is where your interpretations suggest you might be on some special medications.
"...it should take some notes from those good people in charge of captivity situations..."
"human behavior can't be generalized. actually, human infant behavior can be generalized. also "animal species" behavior."
The article makes some very obvious distinctions between human infants, defined as those under 6 months of age, and humans of the language-developing age and beyond.
"human behavior can be generalized. genetics has something to do with it."
No, it can NOT be generalized, and genetics has something to do with it, but then it is shaped by culture, society, values, morals, and ethics, making human societies highly individualistic. Here is an example for bonobos:
"The species is best characterized as female-centered and egalitarian and as one that substitutes sex for aggression. Whereas in most other species sexual behavior is a fairly distinct category, in the bonobo it is part and parcel of social relations--and not just between males and females. Bonobos engage in sex in virtually every partner combination (although such contact among close family members may be suppressed). And sexual interactions occur more often among bonobos than among other primates."
Now if you would be so kind as to characterize human behavior in a similar format? Although given some of your replies I may be asking too much of you.
Maybe this can help you:
"Human beings are the most cognitive complex and behaviorally flexible of animals. Evolution has used an unlikely trick for achieving this state. Relative to most other animals we are born "immature" and helpless. Our extended period of infantile immaturity confers us with benefits. It allows us to learn and adapt to the specific physical environment into which we are born. Instead of relying on ****fixed reflexes adapted for a narrow ecological niche, our learning capacities allow us to colonize a wide range of ecological niches, from the Arctic to the Equator, modifying our dress and shelter accordingly. Also, it allows us to learn about the social environment. We organize ourselves into more different kinds of social groups, different cultures, than other species. Human cultures differ in terms of food, beliefs, and customs. Evolution's trick is that we are born to learn. Learning is to behavioral psychology what brain plasticity is to the neuroscience."
"these scientists are passionate about things and that research they're doing is most likely within the field of their passion. don't trust these scientists and researchers."
A giant misunderstanding on your part, again. I'm speaking of when some scientists are NOT being scientific, and start letting their emotional delusions influence their biases. When bias is discovered, it isn't science. That is what you should not trust.
"it's actually not; who would feed them? who would tuck them in (lock them up) at night? how will the children ever learn about them? all of this must be kept in mind. oh, and the animals' comfort."
Very bizarre, I don't know what you're reading.
"if you agree that the confinement of and ownership over a chihuahua is not unreasonable, then you are required to consider the reasonability of the confinement of and ownership over a saltwater crocodile."
Random examples, but pretty much correct. Do saltwater crocodiles do well in captivity? My guess is they probably do (I don't know) as I know alligators do. I would guess that they are easier to care for than dogs given that they are less demanding socially. So yes, it would be very foolish to have a knee-jerk reaction to any facility keeping a crocodile species because of some romantic notion that it is a 'wild' animal and therefore shouldn't be there. This is all the case, obviously, only if the caretaker is equipped to maintain the enclosure, feeding, safety protocols, and other long term care aspects for the animal. The same goes for the chihuahua, if you can't give the animal daily attention and routine feedings, you shouldn't have it.
I'm going to have to ask you to just outright state any concerns you have the article if you choose to reply again, and no completely ridiculous 'interpretation' formats please.
Timothy on March 25, 2015:
hi! i just read this article and i'd like to give you my interpretations of some of the points you make. i've quoted you directly and have presented those quotations in the same order in which they appear in the article, and each is followed by my interpretation
"Q. Are zoo/pet animals prisoners? ... prison: noun ... 3. any place of confinement or involuntary restraint.
A. Yes! According to definition #3, if animals are confined they are imprisoned."
+animals that are confined are prisoners... because they're confined. got it!
"Selfishness is an irrelevant part of whether or not holding captive animals is ethical. When humans keep pets, any pets, it is undeniably selfish—humans began their relationship with animals in order to further their own benefits."
+it's selfish to keep a pet, and that selfishness is inherent because the first humans to form a "relationship with animals" were being selfish when doing so. but none of that matters because when it comes to questioning the ethics of keeping "any pets," "selfishness is an irrelevant part" (can a part of something be irrelevant to that something?) of the question.
"When a rehabilitated animal is released into the 'wild', it's gone, and everyone feels good as images of the animals persevering in the iconic landscape dance in their heads. ... In reality, animal populations undergo nature's rigorous and ruthless initiation process called natural selection, which ... is partially powered by death, most of it wreaking havoc in cute little babies. Do animals find their premature death any more pleasant because they were sacrificed for the glamorous 'Circle Of Life'? No. Captivity ... keeps all of its players alive, ... captivity can be far more humane and forgiving."
+well then what are we doing here in front of our computers!? why isn't everyone out scooping up every single one of those cute little babies!? to heck with ruthless natural selection and that mean old circle of life. get all the animals in prisons, where they'll ALL be kept alive, STAT!
"Everything that goes on in captive situations is on full display, while dead wild animals are mostly quickly consumed before any safari-goer sees them. ... We can see and assess every aspect of captive animals while nature is a largely hidden world, much of the atrocities that go on there can be neatly swept under the natural rug. You also never get to see animals looking 'bored' either. That's because they're too busy trying to survive."
+that darned circle of life again, always sweeping the dead animals under its natural rug before anyone can see them and catch it red-handed. it should take some notes from those good people in charge of captivity situations, only they know how to truly treat animals trying to survive to the boredom those animals deserve, and they do it with such transparency, too!
"I've suggested that humans are the only species of which you can't answer the question 'describe the behavior of [humans]' with a generalization, yet this can be done with human infants and animal species."
+ human behavior can't be generalized. actually, human infant behavior can be generalized. also "animal species" behavior.
"Human behavior is mostly dictated by culture, society, values, morals, and ethics. Genetics comes in to a smaller degree."
+ human behavior can be generalized. genetics has something to do with it.
"My research and limited understanding has led me to two generalizing conclusions that seem to make sense; animals raised in captivity prefer captivity, and animals raised in the wild prefer the wild."
+ an animal would probably prefer to remain in the environment it's familiar with (reference: "my research and limited understanding")
"Both my spotted genet and green aracari (toucan) return to their cages on their own. ... So far, my toucan has never left the room on his own. Sometimes I carry him out, and he flies back into my room, right to his cage (yet I have little doubt that should I take this bird outside, he will fear-fly away from me). While they were both raised in cages, I've encouraged them to explore on occasion. ... Since I do not free feed, my genet seems more apt to 'explore' depending on how hungry he is. In fact, as I tried to encourage him to have positive out-of-room 'excursions' with treats given in my room upon his return, he began to associate this reward with staying in my room and eventually refused to leave again."
+ an animal that has grown and developed in a cage seems only to want to stay in or close to its cage unless it perceives an opportunity to acquire food or is overcome with fear... due to not being close to its cage.
"In science, objectivity is our only saving grace, and as soon as we deviate from it, our thought processes can no longer be considered reliable. It comes as absolutely no surprise that ‘credible’ researchers will make dramatic and unscientific claims about animal minds to push animal liberation goals ... However, I believe that in our ignorance, there are still steps we can take to unearth truth and decide who to trust."
+ there are some scientists and researchers out there doing science and research, making observations and interpreting data. these scientists are passionate about things and that research they're doing is most likely within the field of their passion. don't trust these scientists and researchers.
"Why should we consider captivity? Animal rights ideology is appealing because it seems like a win-win solution. ... Many aren’t willing to objectively consider the benefits of zoos and pet keeping for animals and people. ... In the worst case scenario, animals are denied access to a comfortable existence and humans lose numerous wonderful professions, lifestyles, and educational opportunities that were not inherently causing harm."
+ though it might at first appear that allowing animals to live outside of captivity is "win-win," (remember: the circle of life is out there!) it's actually not; who would feed them? who would tuck them in (lock them up) at night? how will the children ever learn about them? all of this must be kept in mind. oh, and the animals' comfort.
"Anyone who understands that domesticated animals are suitable for captivity is required to consider the same of any other species."
+ if you agree that the confinement of and ownership over a chihuahua is not unreasonable, then you are required to consider the reasonability of the confinement of and ownership over a saltwater crocodile. it's the law.
Frida Nyberg from Sweden on March 25, 2015:
One thing I'm wondering - would you ever do a piece on "zoos vs. sanctuaries"? Because there is this rather amusing idea going on that "people paying to look at animals in zoos = BAD" while "people paying to look at animals in sanctuaries = GOOD".
People care way too much about labels. If something has "research", "conservation" or "sanctuary" in their title, then they must be good, and if they have "zoo" or "dolphinarium" in their title, they must be automatically bad, even if what they do is exactly the same.
So I'm not just talking about sanctuaries of abandoned pets, but anything zoo-like with a different label.
Bob Bamberg on March 24, 2015:
You lose me on the aquatic life...I don't know much about sea creatures, but do enjoy documentaries on marine mammals and found this discussion interesting and enlightening.
I don't necessarily agree that animals want routine more than freedom. although as a creature of habit myself, I like routines, too, and could understand it. I do agree that animals are creatures of habit, especially dogs.
I'm not convinced, though, that they're expressing preferences when they escape or when they show delight at being reunited with their humans. I believe they're just responding to the opportunity of the moment.
Focusing on escapee dogs, because that's what you see posters of on telephone poles more often, many don't stray far from home and could return on their own, yet will proactively evade capture. Many posters shout in capital letters, "Do Not Try To Catch, Call ..."
Again, I don't believe it's a rejection of their captivity, but a response to a primal urge...vapors of instinct, if you will. I believe that thousands of years of domestication has blunted many of our pets' instincts. They don't necessarily have overpowering urges, but urges just the same, and they can't not respond to them; which makes collars, leashes and fences important aspects of husbandry. Thanks for letting me participate.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 24, 2015:
People say that dolphins are smart, and I think that their consistent opting to stay in human care is actually great evidence for that Frida. I was going to mention Keiko, I had that bullet written down and everything but I forgot what I was going to say, haha. Plus, I didn't want to drag in the mechanical cetacean captivity hate here.
Frida Nyberg from Sweden on March 24, 2015:
I now read the whole thing, and it's awesome.
I only want to add one thing on the idea of animals "wanting to escape at the earliest opportunity" - Keiko, before he was released, lived in a seapen for several years and was taken on seawalks with boats, in order to acclimate him to the wild. *He could have taken off and joined the wild whales any time if he wanted to*. He didn't.
What did he do when he was finally fully released? He didn't join wild whales, he didn't stay away, rejoicing in his FREEDOM. He went right back to humans and begged for attention, before dying, alone and miserable, a mere eighteen months later.
The dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center, can leave any time they want to, because they could easily jump over the fences. Years ago, they used to be let outside on purpose, but they never left. And why would they? The DRC is where they get their food, and positive interactions with the people they have formed relationships with.
The only way anti-caps can get away from this - and they try to - is to say that "oh, well, the animals don't know what they want, they have been so ruined from captivity that they're not in their right minds".
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 23, 2015:
Thank you for sharing Cara, I completely identify with what you said. Animals are very routine driven, while the typical modern human dislikes this. A break to these routines generally causes anger, frustration, and confusion. The best way to make my genet very, very, angry is to block his route back to his cage. It is my belief that since dogs have a big degree of neoteny (retention of juvenile traits) that essentially turns them into 'grown up puppies', they might be more adventurous than other animals. Hence why dogs will have fun going to the park with you while most cats, birds, and other non-domesticated animals will become stressed without some form of conditioning. When animals get older, their preferences get more rigid. They are less willing to break from routines and react to new experiences with stress.
I received my genet at the airport as a neonate, he had been on three flights and behaviorally seemed relatively relaxed and inquisitive. This same animal in adulthood wouldn't eat for three days when I put him in a different cage at a different house after we had to leave due to an emergency. I thought my bird would enjoy going to work with me because he would get out of his cage that he spends most of his time in but he was unhappy, especially when he was outside. He was too busy watching the sky for predators and looking uncomfortable to the point that I had to keep him inside to calm him down.
I identify with them. When I was younger I participated in far more activities and had less fear. As an adult I have acquired various anxieties and don't like to stray far from my home. I realize this is unusual for humans (also neotenic).
Cara on March 23, 2015:
In response to Bob, I don't think animals necessarily want "freedom." When a dog runs away, it's usually very happy to be back home. The same goes for zoo animals. I've had experience with two escapes. One was a curious animal that figured a way to climb out of an exhibit involving a fallen branch and some exhibit furniture. This was a fun game for this creature (I'm sure he was thinking about the game and investigating the new area rather than the "freedom"). Once he got he, he was scared. He wanted back into his exhibit, a familiar area and when he couldn't get back in he frighteningly tried to hide. Clearly this animal didn't want to be free. He just accidentally got free.
The second one was a fly away. This animal missed a cue and flew off. At first he tried to fly back towards the park, but the wind currents put him off course (we followed him for a bit until he flew through some forested area and we lost him). When we finally found him days later, he jumped to his trainer without any cues, and was clearly happy to be found. And also very near the park. I'm sure had it been windier, he would have been farther away because he wasn't very good at navigating, but to me, that says he was hanging around because that was "home."
IME, animals like routine more than "freedom."
Frida Nyberg from Sweden on March 23, 2015:
Will read it all later. I'm working on another video, mainly focusing on cetaceans and the anthropomorphism and strange ideas we impose on them, and I'm sure I will learn something useful here.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 23, 2015:
Thanks, and no problem Patricia.
Patricia on March 23, 2015:
Having been raised with both domestic and exotic animals I thank you for writing this article I have been trying to explain this for most if my life and it seams a losing battle trying to get the message across that animals have feelings and emotions but are not anywhere near human emotions or feelings . Thank you Patricia
9 th generation of animal care .
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 23, 2015:
Thanks for your long insightful comments Bob!
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 21, 2015:
Thank you Alicia.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 21, 2015:
This is a very interesting hub. Melissa. You mentioned something that I've often thought about. Many people seem to romanticize nature, considering it to be an "inherent force of goodness", as you say. I am fascinated by nature, but I am well aware that it contains dangers and unpleasantness as well as beauty. Thank you for sharing a very thought provoking article.
Bob Bamberg on March 21, 2015:
Terrific hub, Melissa, I couldn't agree with you more. You raise so many points that I encountered during my time as a volunteer educator at our local AZA accredited zoo, and that I encounter today as a pet food company rep who spends five hours a day, six days a week, in various pet supply stores talking with pet owners.
You hit so many nails right on the head relative to comments and examples of husbandry protocols by pet owners that I've been privy to.
I find that emotional blackmail is a popular tool among people who make husbandry decisions from the heart, not necessarily the brain. They'll say, "How would you like to..." then come up with some situation that has no relevance to the facts.
The answer to "what do animals want" is freedom. And I believe that that isn't necessarily a choice; it's an instinct. I don't think anyone believes that their dog, which lives in the lap of luxury, resents its captivity. But they still use crates, collars, leashes and fences.
Most people believe that a dog which has escaped and been at large for several days has been severely traumatized. I disagree. He has just been experiencing natural selection, as he is genetically programmed to do. Some deal with it successfully, others not so much. An escaped dog is experiencing life as nature intended, especially if he heads off into the woods.
If he hangs around civilization, he has to deal with motorized vehicles and other manufactured elements that instincts don't account for, and he is in danger. But, he doesn't realize that and will just deal with it the best he can, although it will confound him. He'll still most likely proactively evade capture in response to a primal urge, not his rejection of his owners.
Thoroughly enjoyable and refreshing hub. Voted up and interesting.