Despite walking the earth over 65 million years ago, dinosaurs continue to fascinate children and adults alike. However, is the fantasy of having dinosaurs in zoos taking away funding from animals that are actually living, breathing and facing extinction themselves?
It isn’t unusual nowadays to visit a wildlife attraction, zoo and/or theme park and see an entire section of the place completely dedicated to dinosaurs. Tourist attractions from all corners of the world are latching on to this childhood obsession, going as far as constructing rollercoaster rides, mechanical (life size) dinosaurs and selling all sorts of merchandise to go with it. Sounds amazing right? And it would be, if there weren’t armur leopards pacing in tiny cages, pygmy hippos swimming in puddles and giraffes head pressing against walls.
Where is the money going?
Born and grown in Hampshire, I along with every other person living in the south will always look forward to a trip to Marwell Wildlife Park. As the only attraction in Hampshire to hold a zoological status, it’s pretty much the only place that people can go to view a variety of exotic animals (if unwilling to travel that is.) However, after witnessing extensive advertisement about a new dinosaur attraction at Marwell, with jobs, such as tour guides advertised online also, I was confused when visiting the park recently to find that this dinosaur attraction was in fact no where to be seen.
As an attraction I assume cost a great deal of money and employment alone, I find it quite disappointing that the money spent on this dinosaur exhibit wasn’t spent with more thought towards the animals that represent the sole purpose of the park. I admit, it is easy to forget how hard it is to run a wildlife park and I’m sure that Marwell’s dinosaur attraction did lure in more visitors, however, I’m sure that just as many visitors would have attended the park to view animals in healthy, enriching and larger enclosures, compared to those we have seen deteriorate over the years.
With many parks participating in dinosaur developments such as this, it does raise the question as to whether the pros of these attractions outweigh the cons. Marwell is a prime example of a wildlife park that owns a vast amount of unused land, so why is this funding of temporary exhibits not being used to create enclosures that can represent an animal’s natural habitat to the highest degree possible? Not to mention, does the construction of attractions such as the dinosaur examples discussed in this article deter visitors from making donations? Who knows how those donations are being spent?
Don’t get me wrong, Marwell does a lot for conservation, taking part in projects that create awareness for endangered species e.g. The Zany Zebra project, which is currently taking place around the Southampton area. However, it is important that these issues are discussed so that all and any efforts are benefiting the animal kingdom, their welfare and most importantly, their progression.
Are the owners of zoos truly concerned about the welfare of the animals they keep, or are they fixated on keeping them in enclosures where guests can get the best close up, or take the best selfie?
I would love to hear your thoughts on wildlife parks in your area and how you think their money is being put to use. I’d really appreciate hearing your views and feedback on this ongoing situation as there are so many questions that surround this topic . Thank you.
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