Shohana Islam Sraboni
With technology, we can glimpse the invisible. We can discover the unknowns by holding a remote in our hand while sitting on the couch. Then again, do we really need to punish voiceless lives by locking them up in cages for amusement, whereas we can get to know everything by browsing the internet?
When animals reach a certain age in zoos, they are usually given a euthanasia injection to ensure that they die peacefully and without suffering. At the Bangladesh National Zoo, a large number of the animals are living out their days in agonising pain. Animals in captivity are miserable and feeble because of poor medical care, little food, and cramped cages. Research says that animals suffer physically and mentally from staying in cages for years on end. It is impossible for even the most advanced artificial surroundings to come close to replicating the space, diversity, and freedom that animals enjoy in their natural environments. Many zoo animals grow agitated or even mentally ill as a result of this deprivation and suffering. The zoo system restricts their movements, their behaviours, and their capacity to completely realise their higher-order wants, such as the need to live freely, to make decisions, and to perform meaningful labour, amongst other things. Zoochosis is the term used to describe the mental disorder that develops in animals kept in zoos as captives. The majority of the time, it manifests itself in what is known as stereotyped behaviours, which are frequently obsessive, repetitive movements that serve no meaningful purpose.
When we can see all the animals and get all the information through the internet while sitting at home, then why do we need any zoos? If the world is changing with technology and making human life easier, then why not for animals? It’s high time to ban the zoo system in Bangladesh since it’s nothing but a business in the name of protecting animals by caging them. According to the organisation, the use of technological applications in captivity, including satellite imaging and assisted breeding technologies, would enhance animal welfare while simultaneously improving public awareness of conservation-related behaviour among zoo guests. Taking a step back and considering how we might best use technological innovations in order to foster greater collaboration among conservation practitioners, animal behaviourists, biologists, computer and system scientists, and engineers to protect wildlife in the face of increasing pressures seems to be a good idea right now.
The only way to conserve wildlife is to enable them to guard themselves in their natural environments. The existence of an animal in captivity is a pale imitation of its experience in the wild. Mirpur Zoo covers 186 acres of land which can be transformed into “sanctuaries” or “safari parks” where these animals will be born, grow up and live with their families the way they live in wildlife. There will be no cages and they will live freely, like if they were living in the forest. Either the existing land area of the zoo should be converted into a safari park or a sanctuary, or the animals should be moved to the Sundarbans, where they can live freely with nature. For breeding animals, research labs can be established inside the sanctuary or the safari park.
Human actions have endangered animals. Earth’s biosphere has long been abused by humans. One effect is the spread of invasive species. Nature evolves. Scientists have found new species, and organisations are mapping and visualising threats to endangered species and their ecosystems. Keeping Kenyan elephants safe from humans is easy. The collars’ SIM cards allow them to text local farmers when elephants approach their fields. Technology helps endangered animals procreate by identifying unaffected individuals.
However, there is no Zoo Act in Bangladesh, but we do have an Animal Welfare Act, 2019 and a Wildlife Conservation and Security Act, 2012. The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums would not recognise Bangladesh National Zoo as a member without this act. Because zookeepers in Bangladesh are compelled to depend only on their own expertise, the great majority lack adequate zookeeping knowledge. The management system should be improved by training the personnel and studying other nations’ forest and animal management methods. Most importantly, the management staff should treat the animal with respect. The zoo has no right to feed a live rabbit to the snake in the cage, as the Paw Foundation and Rabbit Protecting Association protested in front of the zoo.
The government may help animals by building a sanctuary or a safari park and investing in it. Under the Wildlife Conservation and Security Act of 2012, any area can be designated as a wildlife sanctuary, safari park, botanical garden, community conservation area (CCA), wildlife reproduction Centre (WRC), landscape zone, eco-park (landscape zone), buffer zone, or core zone (core zone). Those who commit a crime while in the sanctuary may face up to two years in prison, with a further offence bringing the sentence up to five years. A wildlife rescue centre may provide medical care, food, shelter, and security to animals that have been injured, seized, or abandoned by their guardians. This program’s goal is to combat wildlife crime and enforce international agreements, protocols, and treaties. This act establishes a unit of law enforcement employees.
To prevent wildlife destruction and the extinction of endangered species, legislation must be adopted, and animals must be evacuated to a sanctuary as soon as feasible. The extinction of a species is well-known, but the long-term effects on ecological balance are less well-known. The procedures should be done as soon as possible to protect and improve the living conditions of the voiceless animals who are in prison. The management system should be upgraded by giving the team proper training and by following other countries’ examples of how they are nurturing their forests and wildlife. Most importantly, the people in the management team should show human behaviour towards the animal. They don’t have the right to throw a live rabbit as food for the snake in the cage. The authorities have to do regular follow-ups and restrain themselves from this type of inhuman behaviour. The authorities need to appoint skilled and kind people who can really contribute to the animals, forests, and wildlife. It’s high time to take the necessary steps for the caged voiceless animals who are suffering immensely. With technology, even animals may have happy and healthy lives. Breeding, sampling, monitoring, and research are now easier. Caging endangered wildlife and predators isn’t necessary. Close zoos to safeguard animals.
(Shohana Islam Sraboni, Department of Law & Human Rights, University of Asia Pacific)