As visitors to zoos and other facilities with captive wild animals, we can all play a part in improving the welfare of the animals housed in them. If we see any instance of poor treatment of animals or poor welfare (for example, the needs of the animals are not being met, or they are displaying stereotypic behaviours), or if we see animals performing unnatural tricks that are demeaning to the animals and trivialise them, we must write to the establishment and make our concerns known. It is often only if we speak up for the animals that changes will be made, as they cannot speak up for themselves.
The good news is that improvements to zoo animal welfare can often be made, and the suffering of animals can be reduced, by making some simple changes to their surroundings and the husbandry practices in place. Many animals currently held in zoos would benefit by being moved to large, naturalistic enclosures. The more public concern there is about keeping animals in substandard conditions- and the greater the expression of public sentiment that animals should be housed in more naturalistic conditions – the quicker these changes will come.
It is very important to write to zoos and congratulate them when they take progressive steps, such as relocating animals to sanctuaries or better enclosures, or ending circus-style animal shows.