As the Philippines begins to open again and as we look forward to a new year, now is the time to remind everyone that having fun should never include harming or exploiting animals.
There's growing recognition that keeping animals confined to cramped cages for the public's amusement is ethically indefensible. At zoos, animals are in lockdown for life and have no choice concerning their food, their mates, or who they live with. If you think quarantine has been hard on humans, imagine how animals like Trixie, a lonely orangutan suffering at the Avilon Zoo, must feel. She's isolated there in a concrete cell.
Animals in captivity lack opportunities for mental stimulation and sufficient room to exercise, often becoming despondent and developing abnormal and self-destructive behavior patterns, including pacing, rocking, swaying, and self-mutilation.
And no one should underestimate the significant health risks to animals associated with petting them at zoos and other interactive displays. Primates like Trixie could contract COVID-19 from visitors, and increased contact with handlers also increases their risk of contracting the virus. Animals with underdeveloped immune systems may be less able to fight it.
When humans use animals for entertainment, they're denying them the opportunity to enjoy everything that's natural and important to them. We must be vigilant in choosing our activities and help animals in captivity by never visiting any place that uses them for human entertainment, in the Philippines or abroad. Visits to zoos, aquariums, animal circuses, attractions offering elephant rides or tiger petting, and swim-with-dolphins excursions must be left off travel itineraries.
Among all the lessons that we learn from the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope there's one of compassion. By speaking out against injustice—simply by never buying a ticket to places that exploit animals—we can acknowledge that all sentient beings deserve to live free from domination and abuse.
Senior Vice President