Zoos are prisons

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Dying zoos often breed giraffes and other “exotic” animals in captivity and create babies in an effort to keep drawing in paying visitors – yet often, there’s nowhere to put the offspring as they grow.

Wildlife documentaries have opened people’s eyes to the fact that a zoo is just an animal prison dating back to a time when only intrepid explorers had seen animals from other continents. The death of Marius at Copenhagen Zoo (your report, 10 February) should be a wake-up call for anyone who still harbours the illusion that zoos serve any purpose beyond incarcerating intelligent animals for profit.

Giraffes rarely die of old age in captivity, and had Marius not been euthanised, he would have lived out his short life as a living exhibit, stranded in a cold climate, thousands of miles away from his true home. Breeding programmes serve no true conservation purpose because giraffes and other animals born in zoos are rarely, if ever, returned to their natural habitats.

Peta urges everyone who genuinely cares about giraffes and all the other individuals serving life sentences in zoos to avoid patronising these facilities and instead donate to campaigns that actually protect animals in their native habitats.

Ben Williamson

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

London