Considering Zoos

Bee Friedlander, my colleague at the Animals and Society Institute, chronicles the growing awareness of animal welfare at her local zoo in Detroit. She writes,

Today the Detroit Zoo has no animal acts. The animals are not given names. Habitats are designed with care. In 2004, as an example of walking the walk as well as talking the talk, current director Ron Kagan announced that Wanda and Winky, the two Asian elephants who were among the most popular animals, would be transferred to the Performing Animal Welfare Society near Sacramento, CA. The reason was simple: elephants should not be made to live in a northern climate such as Detroit’s. Several years ago, the zoo established the Center for Zoo Animal Welfare which focuses not on the “conservation” of animals or the “education” of humans who come to see them, but rather on the welfare of individual animals. Ken Shapiro, our Executive Director, serves on its advisory committee.