Regarding the article “Ushering in a new, kinder era for Japan’s zoos” in the Oct. 19 edition, no zookeeper who cares about wild animal welfare would try to keep a captured animal in captivity for years on end.
The suggestion made by the PR contact of Meccha Sawareru Zoo, that children need to interact with an African wildcat up close in order to appreciate it, does a disservice to both species: It underestimates children’s imagination and capacity to understand the needs of animals, and almost certainly overestimates the appeal of human company to wildcats.
Every zookeeper should adopt the default position that their wild animal exhibits should not exist and then make a list of all the benefits the zoo provides to the animals that they cannot have in the wild. The more critically they scrutinize their own institutions, the fewer wild animal exhibits zoos will have.
In this age of high technology the public can learn about and appreciate wild animals by observing them in their natural habitat via satellite, through virtual reality systems or through 4-D presentations. Zoos can be leaders in this area and the public can see hundreds of animals at their best, rather than a few lethargic, wretched creatures in cages.
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.