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date: 23 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Zoos and aquariums have been traditionally and commonly regarded as august civic institutions that save animals from the immediate perils of a besieged wilderness and from extinction. Zookeepers say that their institutions inspire audiences to work to make our planet a place that is respectful of all living beings. But a more ecologically and ethically critical reading of zoos suggests that they are prisons for kidnapped, alienated, tortured specimens who are forced to live their lives in vastly unsuitable compounds for the titillation of ignorant crowds brought in by marketing and advertising campaigns that promise highbrow ecological experiences but actually pander to audiences’ less noble cravings for amusement parks, or even freakshows. Zoos’ efforts at ecological education fail because patrons show no inclination to improve their records as plunderers of natural resources or to acknowledge the pain inherent in the forced displacement and captivity of other animals.

Keywords: zoos, aquariums, captivity, animal rights, environmentalism, spectatorship

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