There has been some talk recently about moving Animals from Zoos to Sanctuaries. The word sanctuary sounds nice but what does it mean? The definition of the word sanctuary is a place of refuge or safety. Now, let’s look at the definition of the word Zoo; an establishment that maintains a collection of wild animals, typically in a park or gardens, for study, conservation, or display to the public. Both of these definition seem pretty good, right?
I believe that both sanctuaries and zoos have a place in our world. Zoos are designed for education and conservation programs. While sanctuaries are designed to be a place of refuge for animals. Both facilities have a purpose. So why do people believe that animals should be taken out of the zoos and placed into sanctuaries? I believe it is simply because of the wording used.
Sanctuaries, by definition being a place of refuge, sounds very nice. Many sanctuaries are very nice but they are also nonprofits, meaning they run solely on public donation. This can cause a problem in some situations, where the sanctuary is simply not collecting enough donations to properly care for the animals in their collection. Another issue with sanctuaries is staffing, many places can on hire a few people and then the rest are volunteers. On the flip side, many sanctuaries give personal tours so information on how to preserve these animals is better received. Also, because sanctuaries have less animals each enclosure is sometimes larger.
Now, let’s talk about Zoological facilities. To remind you, the definition zoos are an establishment that maintains a collection of wild animals, typically in a park or gardens, for study, conservation, or display to the public. Zoos were once only about entertainment and public display of wild animals. Things have changed, almost every Zoo in America, AZA or not, is involved with some kind of conversation project. These studies and conservation programs have allowed zoo born animals to be released back into the wild (these release programs also have a few sanctuaries breeding animals for release as well). Zoos also believe conservation starts with education. The vast majority of zoos have some sort of educational programs going on everyday.
I urge you to visit a reputable zoo at least once before writing them off as horrible places. Talk to the staff and ask questions, give zoos a chance to shake off the past and see what they have become. Zoos and sanctuaries BOTH have their own special place each different but each the same.