WHY DON’T ALL ANIMALS LIVE WHERE THEY COME FROM?
Many animals in the world no longer live in the habitats or countries where they would naturally be found. Animals such as snakes, monkeys, big cats, and others that are native to Africa have been moved around the globe. They may be kept as pets or as tourist attractions for entertainment.
This is possible because a lot of countries do not have strict rules about taking animals out of their natural habitats or owning wild animals. From elephants living in circuses to lions living in people’s houses, wild animals living in captivity is a large problem.
Some places have laws protecting against this, but they are often difficult to enforce and many people still capture and sell wild animals. In the USA, you need a permit to own a dog but do not need one for a baboon!
WHY IS CAPTIVITY BAD FOR WILD ANIMALS?
It is difficult to transport wild animals safely, especially if it is done illegally. If they reach their destination safely, living conditions for the animals are often poor. Different environments to what they are used to are also bad for animals. For example, they may need a different temperature, more space, or different food or medicine to what they are given in captivity. Around 3,000 chimpanzees die per year because of these inappropriate conditions as captivity cannot provide the large areas they need to live in.
Most animals who have been taken out of their natural homes cannot return to the wild as they lose the ability to survive on their own. They may not know how to hunt, compete for mates, or live in groups.
HOW CAN SANCTUARIES HELP?
Sanctuaries are protected locations where care and food are provided for animals who were injured, treated badly or in illegal captivity. They also have large areas of sealed-off land for the animals. This means they can roam around in forests, fields, or whatever kind of habitat they would naturally live in. These sanctuaries may be in the animals’ native country, or abroad.
Sanctuaries normally raise money to care for the animals through tourism. Because the animals are not meant to be pets, most sanctuaries do not allow these animals to be touched by members of the public.
Tourists are often only allowed to watch the animals from a distance. This way, the animals can freely move around, almost like they are actually in the wild, but with human protection.
Zoos are different as they have smaller spaces for the animals. Some do not treat animals well, but many do. They can also help with conservation: breeding animals to help a threatened species grow in numbers. Zoos may also buy animals that could live in the wild but are then made to live in captivity for their lives. Good sanctuaries only look after animals that could not live in their natural homes.