If you had not seen the joy on the face of an animal in the wild that gets to roam freely and hang out with its best buddies, the animals who live in captivity may look like they managed to adapt to their circumstances.
Rights of animals in captivity
Even though they may look okay, calling most of them dead inside would not be an overstatement. Most animals that are born into captivity end up being a trading source for zoos and they get traded for other wild animals. This means that they get separated from their families at a very young age and there are almost no laws to prevent this.
Some states ban the ownership and trading of exotic and wild animals but most states have no laws to protect them at all. Even in the states that specifically ban this practice, traders find loopholes and continue the torture.
Private Ownership is on the Rise
On top of zoos, aquariums, and circuses there is also a rise in private ownership. Currently, Texas has the second largest tiger population in the world and the main reason is private ownership.
The laws we have on protecting the wildlife are quite outdated and we definitely need better, more inclusive laws that should be supervised by organizations.
What laws do we currently have to protect the animals in captivity?
The Convention On International Trade In Endangered Species Of Wild Fauna And Flora (CITES)
CITES is an international agreement that prohibits the trading of up to 5,800 species and 30,000 plants. Even though it is an agreement that means well, the conditions of it are just too lacking.
It lacks in addressing the living conditions of the animals in captivity and the precautions it urges people to take seem to be less effective when it comes to species that are more economically valuable.
The Endangered Species Act
ESA is essentially a federal law that aims to protect mammals, plants, birds, and fish that are considered to be endangered in the United States. Federal agencies are also authorized to charge offenders with listed criminal and civil penalties in case of any sort of violations.
ESA is actively used in lawsuits and was recently utilized in the case of Cricket Hollow Animal Park.
The Animal Welfare Act
AWA is one of the older laws and could be considered as the pioneer of its field. It only applies to warm blooded animals who are bred for exhibitions, trading, and research.
Even though the law does a good job protecting the animals, with their minimal protections, under its wings, it fails to protect many others such as crocodiles, birds, and fish.
Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act
PACT is more about preventing domestic abuse towards animals than preventing it on a larger scale like in zoos or circuses. The law was passed after a series of videos caught the public’s attention which featured people doing cruel things to animals. It focuses on punishing those who record themselves abusing and torturing animals.
The law itself is a sign that what animal activists have been doing for a long time may be working. The officials did the right thing but they did it when they absolutely needed to do it.
Hopefully, this law will urge officials to move quicker in the future and also inspire them to care for other animals that mainly live in captivity.
Even though countrywide laws are great and essential to protect wildlife, they may end up being too slow. In that case, local and state laws become more important and let authorities to act in a more robust way.
Not all states have laws to protect wildlife and hopefully, it changes over the years to turn our country into a more animal friendly place.