Improve conditions at Sendai zoo

Kawasaki, Kanagawa

I recently learned that a charitable group established by a talent agency plans to import two giant pandas from China. I strongly oppose this importation. I understand that the group decided to contribute in the hopes of boosting the Tohoku region’s economy and lifting children’s spirits after it learned of Sendai City’s desire to lease two giant pandas for the Yagiyama Zoological Park.

I have visited this zoo several times and found that a number of the enclosures require significant improvements. For example, the polar bear enclosure fails to meet the minimum enclosure design requirements provided for in the Canadian province of Manitoba’s Polar Bear Protection Act of 2003, and they do not appear to satisfy the act’s basic husbandry requirements. Moreover, the Asian elephant enclosure is too small and barren. Elephants require large spaces, pasture and an enriched environment.

I believe that improving the welfare of animals currently kept in captivity at Yagiyama should be promoted rather than importing highly endangered animals as temporary attractions to boost the morale of children. There is no evidence that observing animals in captivity will encourage children to get past hardships and move on, no matter how rare the species being observed is.

On the other hand, the group’s plan to establish scholarships for children — as reported by the media — sounds like a good idea and should be the focus of the group’s efforts.

The primary focus of every zoo should be to maintain an acceptable environment that facilitates natural movements and behavior in captive animals. When that is achieved, it can result in more visitors and a more legitimate educational experience. Animals should not be used simply for “cheering up” visitors.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

kaori sakamoto