Monday, June 6, 2016

Do Gorillas Even Belong in Zoos?

Good question. The obvious answer is an emphatic "No." I say this as a zoo-lover and frequent observer of gorillas and other primates at the San Francisco Zoo. The more nuanced and utilitarian answer calls for an answer to another question: Can zoos help humans appreciate the moral standing of gorillas and other animals, and therefore prevent their annihilation? I am aware that it is a self-serving conceit of the zoo-lover to answer "yes," but for that, it may still be true. The correct position is Peter Singer's. Can we be objective enough to act on it?
Peter Singer, a bioethicist at Princeton University, said, “Our primary concern ought to be the well-being of gorillas, but zoos are constructed the other way around: The primary concern is that humans can see the gorillas.”

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