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to take kids to the zoo?

(84 Posts)
paperdress Wed 30-Oct-13 19:45:32

I remember feeling stridently opposed to animals in captivity as an earnest teen, then spent a few decades not really giving zoos a second thought but now i find myself considering a b'day visit to the zoo for DC.
Part of me feels the same as i did all those years ago; a bit queasy and outraged at wild animals in small enclosures and away from their natural habitat. But part of me sees zoos as part of the DC's storybook/telly landscape, a normal and ok thing for kids to engage with.
What to do?

Crowler Wed 30-Oct-13 19:47:24

Many zoos are actively involved in animal conservation.

littleblackno Wed 30-Oct-13 19:49:17

I think zoos have come along way over the past few years and do an awful lot for conservation and awareness. I agree it's depressing seeing the big animals in captivity but it's also depressing to think about whats happening to their own natural environments.
I take my kids to the zoo and have always had a really good day out, they do school trips there too.

KittensoftPuppydog Wed 30-Oct-13 19:50:18

Take them. A lot of the money goes on conservation. Zoos do wonderful things these days in terms of conservation projects.
Also, you might be surprised by the enclosures these days. They put a lot of effort into creating a good and stimulating environment for the animals.

Have a Google of them. I recently went to a sea life type place and their animals are all rescues or breeding program animals. The seal with stumps for flippers (fishing net accident) was DD's favorite. He was swimming well but would have died in the wild.

mrsjay Wed 30-Oct-13 19:52:43

go to the zoo which zoo is it look them up and see what it is like and what conservation projects are zoos are changing but some are still a bit iffy and tbh if the zoos closed where would the animals go cos lets be honest the wild is a bit shit these days, take the kids to the zoo smile

mrsjay Wed 30-Oct-13 19:54:11

I think scarbro (sorry cant spell it) has a sealife rescue place too I have been so many that i can't remember if it was scarbourough (sp) or not

harticus Wed 30-Oct-13 19:54:32

Go to the zoo.

BeScarefulWhatYouWitchFor Wed 30-Oct-13 20:05:17

Yes, Scarborough has a sea life centre, assuming it's still there. It was about 10 years ago when my mum and I took the DC.

mrsjay Wed 30-Oct-13 20:07:17

about 6/7 since we went they did have a seal and sea animal rescue they also have a turtle rescue abroad somewhere they rescued a giant turtle from there

Some zoos are better than others. Some are successfully breeding animals who are extinct in the wild, and even reintroducing them in limited numbers. Some raise funds for conservation work "in the field" so to speak, so your entry fee pays for the prevention of deforestation elsewhere.

Some are still shit, though. Still too small and too concrete-y, rather than mimicking natural behaviours and habitats.

mrsjay Wed 30-Oct-13 20:09:07

Some are still shit, though. Still too small and too concrete-y, rather than mimicking natural behaviours and habitats.

^ ^ that

ReallyTired Wed 30-Oct-13 20:41:23

I think that a lot depends on which zoo you have in mind. Whipsnade is a lovely zoo, but I am sure there are some cramped horrible ones left

EatingAllTheCrumpets Wed 30-Oct-13 20:58:25

Take them. Zoos, IMO, are a necessary evil. Often they have very strong conservation links.

I do feel that zoos are beneficial to children, I remember seeing a real tiger for the first time, god she was beautiful. And the thought that they were under threat horrified me. I'm not an activist particularly but I'm mindful of my impact in the world and I do think a lot of that is to do with seeing that animal in the flesh, not on tv or in a book, but really there.

Bunbaker Wed 30-Oct-13 21:06:10

This year I have taken DD to Whipsnade and Chester Zoos. We also visit Yorksire Wildlife Park in Doncaster regularly. The enclosures are spacious and these zoos play an active part in wildlife conservation. I learned about the Amur leopard conservation programme at YWP and was saddend to hear that there are only 35 of these leopards left in the wild. Without the breeding programme these leopards will die out.

Jan49 Wed 30-Oct-13 21:16:12

I had this dilemma when my ds was little. I ended up taking him to a zoo when it had a special evening event that you didn't pay for, as I felt I didn't want to pay towards keeping animals in captivity. I think the conservation side is only a very small part of it. Personally I'd rather be dead than kept alive by being caged in an unsuitable environment. I'd rather see video of animals in the wild.

We now live near a sea life type centre. My adult son said he didn't want to go as he didn't agree with sea animals being in captivity. I decided I'd like to go and find out more about it, so we eventually went but I don't agree with its existence.

Maybe you could talk to your dc a lot about the animals' natural environment. What shocked me once was meeting a little girl who when asked where kangeroos came from replied "a zoo". I wouldn't want my dc to think like that.

Bunbaker Wed 30-Oct-13 21:34:52

I happily pay to visit a zoo because the ones I visit are very much involved in conservation.
This is what Chester zoo does
And this is what YWP does.

Hulababy Wed 30-Oct-13 21:41:37

We go to YWP a lot, we have annual cards and it isn't far from us really. I remember it as a very small farm but seen how it has grown and changed over the years, and how much it actually does to rescue animals from poorly run zoos or captivity and the amount of space dedicated to each enclosure, etc. The animals there don't appear to demonstrate behaviours which indicate stress or suffering. Thy are currently trying to rescue a polar bear which is being held in a concrete enclosure in the heats of somewhere like Mexico.

Also like Chester Zoo and London Zoo, esp the newer enclosures.

Bunbaker Wed 30-Oct-13 21:48:55

I didn't know about the polar bear. I hope they succeed. I love YWP as well, we have been going every year for the last four years as it isn't too far for us, but haven't been this year. I love the fact that you can walk through so many of the enclosures.

We started going there after they rescued the lions.

goldenlula Wed 30-Oct-13 21:57:24

We have annual passes in our local zoo. It does a lot towards conservation, houses endangered species and is part of the breeding programs to increase the numbers of some species. They also support a game reserve, can't remember where though! I would look into which zoo you want to visit.

mrsjay Wed 30-Oct-13 22:02:26

there is a little zoo near me i have been once and they rescued 3 circus bears their enclosure is amazing and according to their fb page the bears are preparing to hibernate which they would never have been allowed to do before smile so zoos have their place and as somebody up thread said they are good for children to see animals

mrsjay Wed 30-Oct-13 22:03:03

My friend goes to YWP a lot she loves it

Ohwhatwitcheryisthis Wed 30-Oct-13 22:18:51

we like South lakes zoo. Do loads for tiger conservation. And is in a beautiful place.

Ionlywantitall Thu 31-Oct-13 01:06:14

I refuse to take my son to the zoo for the reasons you already outlined. 'Conservation' seems to be the new buzzword making it okay to keep animals in breeding captivity.

I love to see animals in a natural environment, but my in laws brought my son and I to a infamous one in the south of Ireland. In fairness they honestly thought a 'wildlife park' and 'zoo' were separate things. I was appalled to see little changed since I was a child. The eagle enclosure was smaller than my kitchen. sad.

Never again.

<checks veggie credentials>

Bunbaker Thu 31-Oct-13 08:40:54

Ionlywantitall Not all zoos are like that. Why don't you read some of the other posts on here?

For example the Amur leopard is critically endangered. If we just left them to it they would become extinct. Ideally the conservation programme should just be implemented in the wild, but it doesn't take other factors into account such as inbreeding (due to the small gene pool), poaching, conflict with humans and scarcity of prey.

In principle I don't like the idea of animals being in cages, but all the recent zoos I have visited have huge enclosures, and until we can stop illegal trade/loss of habitat etc we have to accept that zoos go a long way to help prevent some of these animals becoming extinct.

If you don't like zoos, how about visiting a safari park instead?

mrsjay Thu 31-Oct-13 08:48:24


mrsjay Thu 31-Oct-13 08:48:36

oh sorry caps locked

Pogosticks Thu 31-Oct-13 08:51:46

Which zoo? I went to Twycross expecting lots of conservation but they had a tiger pacing repetitively around a little patch of grass and I vowed never again.

livinginwonderland Thu 31-Oct-13 08:56:02

It depends - some zoos are great. Colchester is very good and I love the new enclosures at London Zoo as well.

Someone mentioned South Lakes - eh. Good at first glance, but David Gill has been accused of lots of dodgy practises. For example, Google Kadi the tiger cub who vanished (killed by her mother when he reintroduced them to make Kadi's enclosure a snow leopard enclosure). They make a big deal about tiger conservation but Kadi shared her outdoor space with the African lions, and now the leopards do the same (on a rotating basis, obviously).

Bunbaker Thu 31-Oct-13 08:58:57

Twycross zoo isn't great I agree. Chester, Whipsnade and Yorkshire Wildlife Park are much better.

livinginwonderland Thu 31-Oct-13 08:59:47

Oh, Gill told everyone that Kadi had been moved to another zoo, but no other zoo/wildlife park recieved a Sumatran tiger at the time. The truth was revealed on Cumbrian news after that zoo worker got mauled to death there.

mrsjay Thu 31-Oct-13 09:02:07

I was just going to say about the zoo worker from south lakes I am sure he had a special or programme on animal planet

JumpingJackSprat Thu 31-Oct-13 09:04:11

Port Lympne and howletts are pretty good. .. One of them sent their entire gorilla troop ball to the wild and they are constantly sending captive bred ^ rhinos back to the wild. All their giraffes and antelope type things all l live in a massive field which you go through on a tractor which is a big improvement on a few years ago. Dublin zoo was good to. I hatedLondon zoo when I went about ten years ago Is seemed to be more about the humans than the animals. I learned about sea world h type places and how they get the star attractions I will never ever go somewhere that exploits whales and dolphins.

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Thu 31-Oct-13 09:06:18

Zoos give zoologists and vets an opportunity to study animals at close quarters and learn about their physiology and behaviour. They can then use this knowledge to help support the wild populations of these animals in their natural habitats and protect and conserve the species.
It costs money to complete these studies and house these animals, most of which cannot be reintroduced into the wild. One of the easiest ways to raise money to pay for conservation projects and fund research is to admit members of the public into zoos and charge them to see the animals.
This is why I visit zoos and take my DC to visit zoos.

mrsjay Thu 31-Oct-13 09:10:51

I would love to go to howletts i love gorillas

Bunbaker Thu 31-Oct-13 09:17:32

Wasn't Roar filmed at Port Lympne and Howletts? DD used to watch this programme and the zoos looked pretty animal friendly to me.

JumpinJackSprat They have a similar thing at Whipsnade where you get a little train through fields of animals.

Whipsnade is the biggest zoo in the UK because the animals have the most space. There is even a free bus service that drives around it for when your legs get tired.

mrsjay Thu 31-Oct-13 09:31:29

yes they were bunbaker i may have watched roar on my own

elfycat Thu 31-Oct-13 09:34:22

We have passes to Banham Zoo/Africa Alive and they have large enclosures. The conservation messages are good and they have larger enclosures with breeding animals. Banham had 2 tiger cubs born this year and there's a species of lemur that they have the best record of captive breeding (throughout Europe) and had the only known twins to survive in captivity.

We try to help our young DDs understand why conservation is necessary. It's a necessary evil; If we didn't have zoos many of these animals would only be significant in history books.

Bunbaker Thu 31-Oct-13 09:37:36

I might have done on occasion mrsjay grin

stopgap Thu 31-Oct-13 10:56:18

I feel the same way. I have taken DS to the small zoo in Central Park quite a bit, limiting it to the domestic animals petting zoo (the goats are always bouncing around and seem happy to be fed by the kids) but I just can't bring myself to visit the Bronx Zoo, even though it's set on 250 acres and is supposedly "very good".

I would never change my mind about circuses, though.

Strumpetron Thu 31-Oct-13 11:01:13

I like Chester Zoo because they do massive amounts for conservation.

Zoo animals aren't wild animals though, most are bred in captivity, so would last, say, about a week in the wild. Zoos are also an excellent place to learn about habitat conservation and endangered species. Go to the zoo and have some fun! We went to chester zoo last weekend and it was fantastic, animals all well kept, content, none exhibiting stressed behaviours that I could see.
Things have improved dramatically in recent years.

WilsonFrickett Thu 31-Oct-13 12:32:54

I hate zoos. I have visited a 'good' zoo recently and it didn't change my mind. I won't go again.

It is of course completely up to you if you want to take your DC, but equally it is not compulsory. I have let DS go on a school trip to the zoo (which is how I ended up there, long story, DS injured himself on the way to school and the only way he could go was if I went with) and I would let others take him to the zoo, but I won't be going back again.

mrsjay Thu 31-Oct-13 12:43:25

I might have done on occasion mrsjay

it used to be on at 8 am I used to have it on until dds said can you switch it over to the news so we can see the time grin

I would not go. I hate seeing animals in cages and get upset if there is one that looks sad. neither of mine were all that bothered and were not terribly excited by the zoo when they went on a nursery trip, we found nicer places to go.

can't understand the whole argument that they do conservation, maybe they do but they still keep animals in cages.

mrsjay Thu 31-Oct-13 12:52:08

stepaway what do yout hink the zoos should do with their animals and not all are in cages they do have fences round them ? everybody is entitled to their opinons on zoos but I never know what people expect zoos to do

Callani Thu 31-Oct-13 13:35:22

Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre in Dorset is fantastic if you're near there - all the animals are rescues from circuses / concrete zoos / tourist attractions and what not so they're all living far better lives than they would be doing otherwise and are rehabilitated to live back in social groups like they would in the wild.

Might not be the best for variety but it's a truly wonderful thing they are doing IMO.

Bunbaker Thu 31-Oct-13 13:54:49

This is one of the reasons we still need zoos. Those lions would have had to be put down as they wouldn't be able to cope with living in the wild.

Rhiana1979 Thu 31-Oct-13 14:22:50

Chester Zoo is one of my favourite places in the world and I cannot wait until DD is old enough to walk around so we can take her.

WilsonFrickett Thu 31-Oct-13 16:50:58

Bunbaker if we had no zoos those lions wouldn't be in a zoo in the first place though!

intitgrand Thu 31-Oct-13 17:05:56

I have been to Chester zoo ,YWP and Trentham monkey forest this summer.All of those I think are ok apart from the giraffe enclosure at YWP which seemd completely devoid of stimulation until the park keeper came and waved some branches about for a few minutes.

intitgrand Thu 31-Oct-13 17:07:06

I think older children and teens get a lot more out of a zoo visit than little ones thoughl

Bunbaker Thu 31-Oct-13 17:20:03

True Wilson, but at least we are more concerned about animal welfare than some countries.

TwitTwooShoe Thu 31-Oct-13 18:52:00

Some zoos are terrible and should be shut down. I am lucky to have never visited one, but a friend did- without realising- and was shocked, I saw some of the pictures.

We are lucky to live near Whipsnade Zoo, Colchester Zoo and London Zoo. Whipsnade is amazingly large, you should see the rhino enclosure, the deer, everything- it's massive! It is truly stunning how big it is, and there is a lot of conservation effort going on (I should know, I'm married to a man working in a breeding program for the wild). Colchester Zoo is also good, and large. London Zoo is very big, which I was surprised by as it's in London, but it's really good.

Some zoos are very conservation focused, many are, sadly, not, and I would never visit one knowingly, as it's abominable that they can legally be allowed to live like that.

Booboostoo Thu 31-Oct-13 19:01:29

It depends on the zoo and the animal. Many zoos are involved in conservation, only have animals bred in captivity and many animals adapt very well to that environment, e.g. lions which are very happy to laze about as long as they are fed.

Chester zoo is brilliant, the enclosures are really designed with the animals in mind.

mrsjay Thu 31-Oct-13 20:30:14

*Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre in Dorset is fantastic if you're near there - all the animals are rescues from circuses / concrete zoos / tourist attractions and what not so they're all living far better lives than they would be doing otherwise and are rehabilitated to live back in social groups like they would in the wild.

Might not be the best for variety but it's a truly wonderful thing they are doing IMO*

<nods> it is lovely there Its a great place to visit

Hulababy Fri 01-Nov-13 08:15:07

Intitgrand - the YWP enclosure is not the proper enclosure. They are going into the plains bit. Their current enclosure is part of their interaction and has little in it etc due to that. Is part of a planned integration from where they were into the bigger enclosure with other plains animals. It does look sparse but done for a reason apparently. Again - to do with conservation and animal led stuff.

Bunbaker Fri 01-Nov-13 08:20:50

I am glad to hear that. I have been there since they got the giraffes. That's how they integrated the lions as well.

Bunbaker Fri 01-Nov-13 08:21:39

I haven't been there since the giraffes arrived. D'oh!

Uppermid Fri 01-Nov-13 08:28:15

I don't think London zoo is that big, it's a long time since I've been but the animals really didn't seem to have much space at all. I much prefer the 2 aspinell zoos, howletts and port lympne

mrsjay tbh I just wish that zoos, animal circus etc had never existed in the first place then we wouldn't need to rehome / rescue animals. sad

mrsjay Fri 01-Nov-13 11:51:31


mrsjay Fri 01-Nov-13 11:51:50

oh sorry caps locked

Strumpetron Fri 01-Nov-13 11:55:33

Animals in circuses has indeed been made illegal yayyy.

Strumpetron Fri 01-Nov-13 11:56:42

It's been all over my Facebook (I friended RSPCA) that people are boycotting Bluewater Shopping Mall because they had a show with a raccoon riding a bike. What dickweed actually thought an act like that would go down well?!!

mrsjay Fri 01-Nov-13 11:56:57

I thought so strumperton although some of the rest of the world still have the poor creatures performing sad

mrsjay Fri 01-Nov-13 11:58:01

oh I saw that and i am sure that racoon was on BGT didnt get through mind but i am positive it is the same person, I am glad folk are reporting it and not being entertained

mrsjay Fri 01-Nov-13 11:58:29

same person and racoon*

Strumpetron Fri 01-Nov-13 11:59:34

The sheer amount of messages Bluewater received restored my faith in mankind

mrsjay Fri 01-Nov-13 12:01:52

iT is nice that people are more informed these days I can remember back in the 70s 80s seeing animals on street corners to get your picture taken with i am sure i have a picture with me and a baby monkey ,

There was an animal circus in our town just last year. It was very odd driving to the supermarket past grazing zebras sad

Strumpetron Fri 01-Nov-13 12:15:28

Are you in England? I thought it was made illegal before last year. That's so sad sad

Yes, I am. It shocked me too. We would have gone but obviously as soon as we realised there would be animals we didn't.

I wonder if there's some loophole, like the animals can't perform but they can appear.

mrsjay oooh I thought you were SHOUTING at me then.... got all nervous grin

mrsjay Fri 01-Nov-13 14:06:23

as if 9stepaway* grin i have crisps in my keyboard had bother with my caps for a few days

mrsjay Fri 01-Nov-13 14:08:27

ah ok just read something I am sorry i am really bad at links that they can have snakes camels and zebras in circuses in the uk so animals with hooves and scales by the look of things, it is a BBC news article

Grennie Fri 01-Nov-13 14:11:36

I would not take them. I think zoos are extremely cruel.

Bunbaker Fri 01-Nov-13 15:26:59

"I think zoos are extremely cruel."

All zoos? Nature is cruel as well.

Grennie Fri 01-Nov-13 15:28:55

We don't create nature. We imprison animals in small enclosures, for our entertainment.

If you must, go to a safari park rather than a zoo. The animals have much more space for natural behaviour.

Bunbaker Fri 01-Nov-13 15:33:59

"We imprison animals in small enclosures, for our entertainment."

When was the last time you visited a zoo? These small enclosures aren't so small any more. I agree that safari parks are the way forward though.

MigGril Fri 01-Nov-13 15:44:30

I do think it depends on the Zoo a lot, although I know a lot of people who love Colchester Zoo. I can't stand it and will never go there again. Yes a lot of there enclosure are lovely and big with the exception of the Lions which is just tiny for the size of the Animal's and if you have ever been to somewhere like Longleat then you will understand what I mean. Never ever again will we go.

On the other hand the closer zoo to us is Banham zoo, it's smaller as in less animals but all there animals have bigger enclosures and feel's much nicer.

mrsjay Fri 01-Nov-13 16:04:01

I really like Longleat and i do love going on the boat to see nico bless him he is ancient and really grumpy

Bunbaker Fri 01-Nov-13 16:07:45

Longleat is ace. I fulfilled a lifelong amibtion to go there last year. It was brilliant.

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