Zoos are popular places for people to go. Just about every city is within driving distance of a zoo. Fond childhood memories, beautiful family scrapbooks and many a school lesson revolve around zoo visits. But our desire to interact with some of nature’s most beautiful creatures is at the expense of their sanity.
Laurel Braitman, author of Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves, has compiled a hill of evidence to show us how we are driving crazy the very animals we want to be close to. Braitman is not just your run-of-the mill animal lover and activist-- she has a doctorate in the history of science from MIT. In her book, she outlines the trauma that captivity has on wild animals-- particularly, zoos.
A lot of people argue that zoos do more good for animals than harm. They provide animals with square meals, medical care, and a safe and hygienic environment that’s free from predators. Despite the care, Braitman’s research points to the simple fact that the lack of freedom takes its toll. Many animals are programmed by nature to live in territories hundreds of times larger and more complex than the best homes that people can provide.
Zoos and exotic animals are not the only victims. Even domestic animals, including man’s best friend, seems to suffer from being derailed from what nature had intended. Surprisingly, an overwhelming number of animals end up with PTSD, anxiety, depression, OCD and self-harming tendencies. A lot of animals end up needing therapy or drugs to treat psychosis. Despite our love for animals, Animal Madness will make you wonder—is this any way to treat a friend?
Photo: Independent, Huffington Post
Gus the polar bear had to be given behavioral therapy and Prozac to treat his mental instability.