On April 15, the Pennsylvania Game Commission voted to weaken existing regulations, allowing wild animal exhibitors to sell public contact experiences with most wildlife. PGC voted to prioritize profit-making over public safety and animal welfare.
They go by many names – menagerie, roadside zoo, wildlife park – but these businesses all exist to exploit animals for money. Animals are obtained through dubious channels and are often as babies which becomes an effective marketing ploy. “Raised from birth” insinuates a caring commitment but in fact deprives that animal of critical development. Animals whose natural lives would include roaming, hunting or foraging, and engaging in complex social relationships are instead placed in cages, sometimes drugged, and forced into stressful interactions. Suppressing these instinctual behaviors leads to abnormal and destructive behavior, raising the risk of injury to humans.
Menageries will assure you they exist to educate and contribute to conservation efforts, but entertainment and profit is not conservation. The public is led to believe they are supporting wildlife conservation while in fact they are paying to undermine it. With almost 200 million visitors to zoos each year, it’s clear that we crave connections with animals, but at what cost? The PGC states that their decision-making is guided by science. PGC, can you share the science that informed your decision to prioritize profit-making over public safety and animal welfare?