Stress and zoo animals


Sir, – I disagree with letter writer Colin Walsh (“Zoos are needed more than ever”, June 16th).

With no tasks to exercise their intelligence or skills, zoo animals become depressed and listless and totally dependent on humans.

Some go crazy from the boredom, deprivation, frustration and stress. Signs of this are self-mutilation and abnormal repetitive behaviours, such as pacing up and down or rocking back and forth.

Even though the animals may look physically healthy and well cared for, they are telling us they are suffering from inadequate lives.

An additional cause of stress for zoo animals is the fact that they may be confined in countries which, in terms of climate, are the total opposite of those in which they have evolved to live. Each year elephants, giraffes and other animals adapted to the heat are forced to endure freezing winter temperatures in countries such as Russia and Canada where the winter temperature plummets to minus 30 Celsius. Likewise, polar bears are forced to bake in searing 40 degree summer temperatures.

We wouldn’t want to be treated this way – even if our species was endangered – and I’m sure they don’t either. – Yours, etc,