What’s a Nice Elephant Like You Doing In a Place Like This?
How Zoos Are Killing Elephants
In the wild, African elephants (Loxodonta Africana and Loxodonta cyclotis) live for an average of 56 years. African elephants who live in captivity in zoos live an average of only 17 years. In the wild, Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) live an average of 47 years. Asian elephants who live in captivity in zoos live an average of only 19 years. Why is there such a large discrepancy between the two? Can living in a zoo significantly shorten the life span of both African and Asian elephants? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. A life spent in a zoo is neither a good life nor a long life for an elephant.
Traditionally zoos have
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The keeping of exotic animals was a sign of prestige and power, so rulers and emperors sought them out. Ancient Egyptians considered their zoo animals to be sacred and treated them well, but this also meant they were used in sacrifices to the Gods or were often mummified with their owner. The Chinese also built large zoos. The Mogul Akbar of India once kept 5,000 elephants and 1,000 cheetahs. The Ancient Aztec Indians in Mexico built a zoo so large it required 3,000 zookeepers. When the Roman Empire fell, so did many zoos across Europe, and exotic animals became a luxury no one could afford. However, some zoos did remain. Then, from the 15th through the 18th centuries, many new zoos were again established throughout Europe. For the rich who could afford such things, “wild animals flooded into Europe along with human slaves, gold, and other commodities.” Once again zoos were considered to be a sign of wealth and power. Capturing an animal was a symbol of conquering distant lands. Explorers would frequently send an elephant back to their country, where it was put on display in a zoo for everyone to see how powerful and important their leaders were, and how brave the explorers were.
One way for people to see the animals was through traveling shows, which included jugglers, poetry recitals, and human oddity acts, such as the bearded lady. The animals lived in very small