America’s theme parks are well-known to have a large number of animals. While the animals might be fun to see and interact with, in a lot of cases they are badly mistreated and may even have been taken from their natural habitats in an unethical manner. Attending these theme parks only worsens the problems detailed below.

Damaging Habitats

Image via Flickr by jessejay

Human encroachment is a serious issue for every wild animal species on the planet. Humans continue to stretch the boundaries of our civilizations and push animals out. At first it would seem that keeping animals in zoos and other parks is good because it keeps them from being hunted down as their habitats are destroyed, but this isn’t the case. For the most part, keeping animals in enclosures doesn’t allow them to properly express themselves or to do what they are born to do. A whale in Sea World can’t sing to other whales miles away as it can in the ocean, and a bird can’t fly the way it should.

Selectively Protecting Endangered Species

Image via Flickr by jump for joy2010

One of the ostensible purposes of many zoos and parks is to keep endangered species alive as their habitats are ruined in the outside world. However, as noble as this appears on the surface, zoos and other parks are notoriously selective when it comes to which endangered species they protect. Preferring cuter, better known and more charismatic animals harms the nobility of this protection.

Trading Animals Like Commodities

Image via Flickr by nnene’s paradise

In 2003, Tampa Florida’s Lowry Park Zoo and the San Diego Zoo imported 11 elephants from Swaziland, which is both illegal and highly dangerous to the animals. Is entertaining people in a zoo worth capturing animals and taking them from their homes, which endangers their lives and causes them grievous psychological harm? Animals that are too old to be popular are often traded between zoos or even sold to side shows or animal auctions.

Imprisoning Animals in Cramped Conditions

Image via Flickr by rennett stowe

It is said that human beings need at least 400 square feet apiece in order to remain sane and peaceful. Other animals have both greater physical needs for space and more delicate psyches, which requires even more space. While zoos try to provide larger spaces for their animals, often conditions become cramped or those in charge of the animals neglect their proper care. One example is the T.I.G.E.R.S. exhibit in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, which has repeatedly been found in violation of the Animal Welfare Act.

Breeding Animals That Can Never Be Released

Image via Flickr by miskan

Imagine if you’d been raised in a box with no education on how to survive. Do you think you could find work, secure housing and perform other necessary tasks if you were released? You might be able to, but animals have no help available in the wild. A released animal is generally as good as dead, so keeping them captive and birthing them in captivity is a life sentence without possibility of parole.

Attending theme parks contributes to the plight of many animal species. While they are fun to watch, keeping animals captive can hurt them too and the environment as a whole.