10-23-17 BR Zoo

The Baton Rouge Zoo is home to many animals on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, on Thomas Road.

The Baton Rouge Zoo has long stood as a staple in many childhood experiences. However, looking back as adults, the zoo is now more recognizable as a perfect representation of everything wrong with animal captivity. 

In March 2018, the Baton Rouge Zoo lost its accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The 40-year-old authorization was something the zoo boasted and utilized to its defense, especially when stories of unsafe animal conditions hit mainstream media some years ago. 

This national coverage began primarily in July of 2016, when three spot nosed Guenon monkeys were found dead on the premises after security cameras identified a pack of dogs entering the zoo through an unsecured fence. Yet, before this event, the zoo lost two giraffes, a golden lion tamarin and a tiger that same spring. 

When settling on their decision on whether or not to revoke the zoo’s accreditation, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums eventually concluded that multiple habitats were not only outdated but also hazardous to the well being of the animals. This more than warranted the zoo a repeal of accreditation. 

Though safety efforts and millions of dollars are now being promised to the future renovation of the zoo, its current state is still undesirable to say the least. 

With limited animals out on any given day and dated amenities, the attraction of the zoo has decreased in value compared to the fond memories park-goers have from a decade ago. 

This begs the question: can the zoo even have a revitalization at this point, or is it too far gone?

A relocation of the zoo was even urged by BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight and Zoo Director Phil Frost in 2018, which would have entailed a whole new facility and complete makeover. However, due to residential backlash and flooding concerns in the chosen area, Airline Highway Park, the idea was scrapped. 

So, after years of a bad track record and stagnant action, why is the zoo still operational? The simple answer: primitivity. 

In the age of a technologically advanced society, we can now Google search an animal and immediately see them, in our own bedrooms, through augmented reality. So, why must we still subject creatures to enclosures that are far less than ideal?

While some zoos rightfully defend their facilities as educational experiences and conservation acts, zoos like the one in Baton Rouge only do injustices. What kind of superiority is given to us, as humans, by shamefully encapsulating wild animals that never asked to be put there?

The only real solution for the Baton Rouge Zoo right now is time. From putting animals in danger to offering visitors a less than spectacular entertainment value, it really is a wonder if they will be able to come back from their past mistakes in the future. 

Gabrielle Martinez is an 18-year-old mass communication freshman from Gonzales, Louisiana. 

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