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Source: Woodstock Farm Sanctuary/Instagram

If You Love Animals, Don't Visit Zoos or Aquariums — Consider This Ethical Option Instead

By Sophie Hirsh

Chances are, at some point during your childhood, you went on a field trip to your local zoo or aquarium. As an animal-loving kid, it can be pretty exciting to see animals from all different habitats up close. But as you've gotten older, you've probably learned about why zoos and aquariums are actually pretty horrible for animals. In fact, a lot of animal lovers boycott those kinds of entertainment, because they do not believe it's not ethical to keep animals in captivity. But if you don't want to support zoos or aquariums, that doesn't mean you and your children will never get to observe animals in that way. Luckily, there is a clear-cut, ethical alternative to zoos and aquariums: visiting an animal sanctuary.

Firstly, here's some background info as to why some people choose not to support zoos and aquariums. As explained by PETA, animals are routinely taken from the wild to be put on display in zoos; zoos also breed animals, claiming good intentions but simply using the bred animals for display. According to the organization Freedom for Animals, animals often suffer at zoos, for a few reasons: they are not in their natural habitat, animals are trained (sometimes using violent methods) to do tricks for guests, and there is not sufficient space for animals at zoos (according to The Guardian, polar bears have 1 million times more space to roam in the wild than they do at zoos).

And as PETA added, zoos prevent animals from carrying out the most basic and natural activities, including running, choosing a mate, and exploring. Additionally, because so many zoo-goers come to see baby animals, zoos often trade, sell, or even kill animals once they get older and draw less crowds, as detailed in a New Yorker article. There's even a neurotic condition called zoochosis, which some animals get as a result of being held in captivity, which can cause frustration, boredom, depression, lack of natural habitat, and more, according to Your Daily Vegan. Zoochosis symptoms include biting zoo bars, self-mutilation, eating and playing with feces, and excessive grooming, the outlet noted.