Should we not release our dogs and cats back into the wild?

Opinion

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I freely admit that I support zoos, aquariums, sanctuaries, and even SeaWorld to the max, 100%.

I even support circuses when it is done right, and I’ll define “done right” as using positive reinforcement rather than negative reinforcement.

To me, it’s pretty obvious when animals in our care have been trained with positive reinforcement.

It’s no different from you teaching a dog to roll over, sit, play dead, shake.

It’s done with treats, not whippings.

Perhaps that’s why I don’t like horse racing. I have been to the Del Mar Thoroughbred Races twice with a Photographer All Access pass. A total of twenty hours on two different occasions two years apart. I have yet to see anyone give a horse a treat. Rather, they prod them, poke them, whip them…….. Why are people not protesting that instead of SeaWorld? I don’t understand.

Do animals in our loving care remember those who care for them? I submit that they do:

Here’s another one:

Did zoos, aquariums, SeaWorld, and circuses abuse animals in the past? I believe they did. I believe taking animals out of the wild can, in many circumstances, be considered abuse.

However, I would rather have some of these animals in Zoos to save them than in the wild where they get slaughtered by poachers:

100,000 elephants killed by poachers in 3 years

I would also submit that in today’s world, if you were able to ask these animals if they would prefer to be in the wild struggling to find food each day, fighting for their lives each day…. or in a zoo or aquarium where they get love, attention, food, and medical care…. I believe I know the answer.

Without the leadership of the San Diego Zoo in getting other zoos and sanctuaries to sign on to its California Condor Conservation program, the California Condor would now be extinct. It actually was extinct in the wild as recently as 1987. Through the successful breeding programs of the San Diego and Los Angeles zoos, the California Condor was re-introduced to the wild beginning in 1991 in southern Utah, northern Arizona, central and southern California, and northern Baja California, Mexico. Here are a few of the California Condors at the San Diego Zoo:

Andean condor at the San Diego Zoo

California Condor at the San Diego Zoo

California Condor at the San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has a northern white rhino as a resident. Northern white rhinos are functionally extinct, which means that the seven rhinos that exist in zoos throughout the world are beyond breeding age and that none exist in the wild. When these seven remaining rhinos die, there will be no more unless we can figure out cloning.

Northern white rhinoceros at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park

Many times each year the Zoo and Safari Park announce the arrival of big babies: orangutans, elephants, giraffes, gazelles, monkeys, and gorillas. If not for the Zoo, I would never have had the opportunity to see orangutans, elephants, giraffes, gazelles, monkeys, and gorillas. And my annual membership supports the Zoo’s conservation and breeding programs, to ensure that the California Condor continues to exist in the wild.

The Zoo also re-introduces wildlife to other parts of the world when possible. Unfortunately, people in other countries don’t have the economy that we have in the United States, so they don’t mind slaughtering animals for food and other products.

I try to go once a week to SeaWorld, the Zoo, and Safari Park because one never knows what’s going on each week and which animals will be photogenic for me.

Without Zoos, many millions of people, including me, would never have had the opportunity to see these beautiful creatures:

Mom and baby gorilla at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sumatran tiger at Tiger Trail at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Himalayan Monal at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Burmese Python at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Black mangabey at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Camel at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Giraffe at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Elephant at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Giant Panda at the San Diego Zoo May 2013

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Male lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mama koala and her joey at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Forest buffalo at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Caracal at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Desert bighorn sheep at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Johnston's crocodiles at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Fishing cat at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zebra at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Secretary Bird at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cheetah at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Polar Bear at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Knobbed Hornbill at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Meerkat at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Red kangaroo at the San Diego Zoo

(Got the kangaroo in there for you, Laurie!)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Flamingos at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Although I can cite no research to support me, I firmly believe that people who have visited a zoo, sanctuary, or aquarium are more likely to contribute to conservation efforts to save these beautiful creatures from extinction in the wild.

For those who want to release all of these creatures back into the wild, that cannot be done with many of them because they are injured and would not be able to survive. The two bald eagles at Safari Park come to mind, both injured in the wild and rescued, and both unable to fly.

Bald eagles

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If we take this to its logical conclusion, then all dogs and cats should be released back into the wild. After all, both species adapt quite quickly to life in the wild, so why are we keeping them penned up in our homes and teaching them tricks? For our entertainment, pleasure, and companionship….

Spoiled dog

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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19 thoughts on “Should we not release our dogs and cats back into the wild?

  1. T Ibara Photo

    Thank you for this thoughtful and insightful post. I humbly agree with everything 🙂
    The San Diego Zoo & Safari Park seems like a wonderful place…maybe I’ll have a chance to visit there someday.

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Yeah, rodeos irritate me even more than horse racing. Possibly the only thing truly worse than horse racing, dog racing, and rodeos, are dog fighting, cock fighting, and bull fights. I just don’t understand humans sometimes.

      Dog fighting and cock fighting is illegal, but for some reason we still have the Michael Vicks of the world. Dog racing is illegal in some states but not all. Of course, horse racing has a much larger fan base, political base, and lobbyists. Only the rich can afford to have thoroughbred race horses, though, so there’s part of the problem right there.

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  2. Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

    Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    I love popping into Russel Ray’s blog and there are often lovely surprises. This is a great example and I made the mistake of watching the video about the Elephant and his old trainer meeting for the first time before I read the article with steamed up glasses. I have seen zoo’s and animal sanctuaries that needed to be shut down immediately. I have also seen zoos such as the San Diego Zoo and Monkey World in Dorset where the animals, many who have been rescued from dire circumstances have plenty of space to roam, daily food and safety. Russel makes a valid point. The wild is no longer a level playing field with massive loss of territory, lack of food and of course the final indignity poachers who care only about destroying an animal for a piece of horn. Animals in captivity are still suffering but I still believe that can and will be changed and that to preserve many species they need to be in protective custody. Thank you Russel for a great article and also for the video and photographs.

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  3. Mags Corner

    Fabulous pictures Russel and I so enjoyed the videos but now my sinuses are all messed up from crying. 🙂 Animals are wonderful beings and most people do not give them credit for what they are capable of. They certainly are not dumb! Loved this post. Hugs and give sweet Zoey nose kisses for us.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      That’s okay. I was crying while I was writing the post so it took me longer to dictate the text than it normally does because I don’t have a “crying” voice in my Dragon Naturally Speaking software. Thus it was having problems understanding some of what I was saying……..

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  4. 1stpeaksteve

    I stumbled upon this thanks to The Smorgasboard.

    I once had a wonderful job for a great company. This job allowed me to be around animals because I have always been crazy about them. I could do my normal job and then leave the office and go on a short walk and find myself surrounded by penguins or sea lions.

    Finally my job allowed me to be in charge of a large facility with some great co-workers and animals. So for 5 long years I watched and participated in show after show and hours of down time. It was not always easy…my friends on the far side of the glass would never budge when it came to the welfare of the animals and they would not bend rules to make things better…even for the guests.

    Sadly, one day a dear friend lost her life in a tragic accident.

    I can only say this.

    I can not condone that at some point in time animals were captured and families were broken up. But once you commit this act, you have changed the dynamics forever. Now, the animals do not view you as something to be cautious of. Like your pets, they view you as their entertainment, the person who gives them food and protects them.

    We like to put ourselves in the place of the animals. Once someone came up with a wonderful idea…to give some of our animals a habitat they would love. So they created this wonderful playground for them. It had colorful faux rocks, fake corals, a wave pool, and more. If we were proud of it then the animals must love it too. Wrong!

    They were terrified. They did not even know what rocks were. They were all born in pools. The colors were too much for them. It took a month to get them to relax and discover what the area had for them.

    So we can not release them just like we can not take Mr. Barky to the forest. So we must give them the same care and attention that one would give to a family pet.

    Thanks for the pics and the article!

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  5. drewdog2060drewdog2060

    In the ideal world there would be no necessity for zoos as humans would not hunt wild animals to (and beyond) the point of extinction. However we don’t live in such a world, consequently zoos or, preferably safari parks with plenty of space for animals to roam around are necessary for conservation reasons.
    Where we to release our dogs and cats back into the wild (which I don’t support), many of them would not survive or, if they did their lives would be , in the words of the English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes “Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. My dog possesses many wolf traits but having been socialised and genetically modified (he is a lab/retriever) he is not ideally suited for life in the wild.
    Having said all that, many people do not treat their domestic pets well. I have lost count of the number of people I have come across who leave their dogs alone from 9-5 while they go to work. This is cruel as dogs are social animals and those who treat dogs in this manner need to be educated so as to stop this behaviour. Kevin

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