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Captive Animals, Captive Humans⁠

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(I wrote this letter to the Washington Post in response to their article about animals in zoos during Coronavirus a couple days before a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for Covid-19.)

In reading the end of your article about how “some zoos and aquariums … are streaming live-feeds of their exhibits to keep the public connected to their animals,” I couldn’t help but see the irony in live-streaming videos of captive animals to the homes of captive humans.

The fact that zoonotic diseases like Covid-19 pass from animals to humans is another irony that should also not be lost on your readers. While Covid-19 (and SARS before it) originated in a live market where wild animals are kept to be sold for human consumption, it is precisely confinement of wild animals and their proximity to humans that increase the chances of zoonotic diseases passing between human and non-human animals.

Perhaps a silver lining in all of this will be a heightened awareness that other animals’ desire for freedom, life, autonomy, and self-determination is as strong as our own. If we’re frustrated by our temporary lack of mobility and independence, imagine how they feel.

We can admire birds in our backyards; watch bees pollinate flowers; or spot wild turkeys, deer, and lizards while on a hiking trail.

We can be captivated by animals without holding them captive.

~Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Actions You Can Take

  • Writing (thoughtful, respectful) letters to editors of newspapers — locally, regionally, and nationally — is a wonderful way to be a voice for animals and helps you articulate your thoughts about a given subject.
  • For more on animals and coronavirus, check out my series on the Food for Thought podcast about how the virus affects and is affected by non-human animals.
  • Please feel free to share any or all of this letter.

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