Zoos evolved at a time when travel for most people was impractical. Nowadays, wildlife watchers can hop on a plane to Africa, Australia, or Costa Rica for photo safaris or even stay at home and catch nature documentaries on television and view live Web cams from the Internet.
Evidence indicates that the zoo industry, which once boasted attendance of more than 142 million people each year, is of declining interest to a public that has become much more knowledgeable about the needs and behaviors of wild animals and aware of the toll that captivity takes on animals meant to roam free.
Captivity-induced mental illness is rampant among confined animals. Some rage against their imprisonment and frantically claw at the bars. Others, having succumbed to relentless boredom, show little interest in anything.
There is no legitimate educational value associated with these substandard exhibits. True respect for wildlife is stimulated by learning about them in their natural habitat.