Real Conservation

Zoos and circuses often claim that what they are doing is really helping conserve wild animals.

The recent announcement by the Riverbanks Zoo in the USA concerning the birth of their four lion cubs, is yet another example.

But this time it elicited a letter to the Editor of the Times & Democrat newspaper from our colleague, Adam Roberts, Senior Vice-President of Born Free USA.   His letter says it all!

“Challenge is to make lions’ lives worth living
Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It is hard to allow a dose of reality to interfere with the frivolity surrounding the announced birth of four lion cubs at the Riverbanks Zoo, but there is surely more to the story than the excitement over the new arrivals. (“4 new lion cubs at zoo get names,” Aug. 5).

The simple act of animals procreating in captivity is not a feat in itself. The challenge is giving those animals a life worth living. Wildlife, including African lions, belongs in the wild. In captivity, they will live in an urban jungle that does not appropriately replicate their natural wild habitats.

Breeding and keeping lions in captivity may be fun for zoo visitors, but it’s not real conservation.

Real conservation is aimed at addressing the persecution and threats facing lions in the wild. Lion habitat and prey are declining, hundreds of lions are killed each year for sport by western hunters and still others are killed for meat and body parts. In the last three decades alone, the continent-wide population of lions across Africa has declined by an alarming 70 percent.

It is up to us to make sure that lions are protected in the wild as our top priority. How sad it would be to someday realize that lions are gone from Kenya, but are alive and caged in South Carolina. That’s not a world I want for my daughters, and I encourage all of your readers to do what they can to conserve lions in the wild.”

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