I LOVE animals. Seeing them in person would always light up my eyes in wonder and put a grin in my face. But that’s until we went to Manila Zoo and my faith in zoos drastically changed. Instead of being excited to see the animals, I end up pitying them and hating the zoo.

The animals were not treated properly, the cages were too small, and the animals seem to be very hungry and very tired.

Zoos were built primarily for the conservation of endangered species—as well as for research purposes and education—and secondarily, for entertainment of visitors. But to think about it now and see the world we are living in: Is it still true today? Or, better yet, was it even true in the first place?

At first, we built fences to keep animals away, but now we build fences to keep the animals in place.

Is it really because without zoo efforts, certain species would become extinct? Do zoos even educate us on how animals move and eat and live? Because really it just shows us how the animals react in captive situations.

Or are zoos really just built for entertainment and profit; a sick, unconscious act of human beings in showing their superiority to their fellow animals—a way for us to remind everything and ourselves that we are the highest form of creature on this earth?

Going far back to the ancient times where zoos first emerged, zoos (or menageries) were built solely for the purpose of display and for the symbol of power. In Rome, the emperors collected animals to be used in the arena.

They have this sick game where a number of different animals like lions, elephants and bears were put in a closed arena with sand to fiercely combat and kill each other. While in medieval England, animals were kept by rich families so they could be given to their friends as gifts.

It wasn’t until the 1970s when the environment mattered to the general public that a few zoos started to consider making preservation their focal goal. From that point on, zoo experts became progressively mindful of the need to immerse themselves in preservation projects and making it its main purpose. A considerable lot of today’s zoos would like to stop or moderate the decline of numerous endangered species from the unfortunate mass destruction of natural life due to industrialization. Most zoos see their basic role as rearing endangered species in captivity and reintroducing them into nature. A lot of huge zoos likewise ceased the act of having animals perform tricks for guests to stress the protection issue.

However, regardless of what their intentions are or how honorable they could be, zoos are unethical and serve as only satisfaction of human recreation at the cost of the creatures. Animals in zoos are compelled to live in manufactured, unpleasant and downright exhausting conditions.

Expelled from their regular environments and social structures, they are bound to little, prohibitive situations that deny them mental and physical encouragement.

While zoos claim to give conservation, education and entertainment, their essential objective is to maintain public support to build and increase profit. Reproducing animals in zoos isn’t going to change the fact that there are still merciless hunters who poach wild animals in their natural habitat.

While zoos for the most part assert to take in just the neediest of creatures, the majority of the creatures in zoos are not imperiled, stranded, or harmed whatsoever. A great number are caught from the wild for unique and exotic animals draw more crowds and attention because zoo-goers seek entertainment more than enlightenment. Zoos profess to provide animal education, but most guests use just a couple of minutes at each display waiting for the animals to do something “exciting.” Regardless of the abundance of signs, descriptions, and instructive showcases next to the creatures’ pens that some zoos have, almost none of this data, if any, will be recollected by the visitors. We fail to witness how multifaceted the lives of animals really are and instead, just observe the creatures’ responses to fatigue, sorrow and anxiety.

Zoos are hopeless places for animals. And it’s quite funny that when we act with cruelty we refer to each other as “animals,” yet the only animal that displays cruelty is humanity. The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong in this world.(Danica Jane Surima, UP Cebu Masscom Intern)