Spotting the Difference: A Guide for the Misguided

Spotting the Difference: A Guide for the Misguided

Stock photo of a Hyacinth macaw.

Often times, we let our emotions take over when talking about the welfare of our animal friends. Whether we are talking about captive animals or wildlife, we always tend to do this certain thing where we humanize or try to connect with the animal in some way. It is important to note that with proper management some animals can thrive under optimal conditions. I don't know about you, but my cat gets free health care. I know she isn't working for it. The bond that we have with animals is undeniable. It is important to note that some animals can thrive in captivity, and some cannot. 

Have you ever heard of either term? Do you know the difference? Which do you support? Aren't they the same thing? 

"Animal Welfare is pro-animal ownership. It recognizes the human-animal bond, recognizes the value of quality animal care and purposeful breeding, and supports advancing science to ensure the health and wellbeing of animals.

Animal Rights posits that humans should not use or own animals in any way, even as companions-."

-quote from American Kennel Club, Mar 06, 2017 

Obviously, it gets complicated. We know that captivity is last resort for some of our critically endangered animals. We also know that seaside sanctuaries for cetacean's actually work. Some animals do better in natural environments. A seaside option for a dolphin is better than performing in a kiddie pool. Why would we not want to support that? 

We have seen cases where captivity has failed our wildlife by neglecting care, or by mismanagement resulting in the killing of important endangered species as we saw with Eko at the Naples Zoo this past month after he bit the arm of a man afterhours. On the other hand, captivity has provided viable programs that saved many species from extinction. We know that the gorillas at the sanctuary in the forests of Virunga National Park would not be able to survive alone. The orphaned gorillas that are being rehabilitated there cannot be released into the wild. Our focus is to stop the illegal wildlife trade and push back against poaching.

Pair of Ara De Spix image from Flying Mama. 

You guessed it! This is the macaw featured in the hit film, Rio. Spix's macaws, also known as Ara De Spix, are functionally extinct in the wild. Their only safe haven being captivity. These birds sadly did not thrive in their natural habitat. Thanks to a group of Brazilian zoologists and biologists from the Curitiba Zoo, their existence is a miracle and their efforts to reintroduce the animal have been a success for captivity. Their breeding program has been producing numerous offspring with hopes to send some individuals back into the wild, but this is a bird we're talking about here.

As we learned in my last blog entry, we have roughly 100 Malayan tigers in captivity, minus one. That is half of the amount that are in the wild. You CANNOT put a captive tiger directly back into the wild without its setbacks. This is labor intensive IF at all possible. You have to manage that animal. Following actions from the 2020 National Tiger Protection Plan for Malaysia, I think we are on the right track. Eko was a great loss that could have greatly benefitted his own species. At 8 years old, the tiger became a memory for us to learn from. 

Crested Gecko photograph from

Crested Geckos were first discovered in 1866 by French zoologist Antoine Guichenot. The animals were believed to be extinct since 1967, however, populations were found in areas of New Caledonia. With populations decreasing, most of these animals are actually found in captivity. These animals could potentially be reintroduced into its natural habitat thanks to its introduction into the pet trade. They have very basic care and needs, so they make an awesome pet! Be aware, they like to do what I call "suicide jumps." They leap from any ledge regardless of height, often times falling to their deaths, which is why we probably see so few of them in the wild.


Photo of young nursing Spix's macaws from the breeding program at Curitiba Zoo. Green is red-necked amazon. 

One animal that does NOT thrive in a tank is the dolphin. Kathy, also known as Flipper, was a female dolphin featured in a hit film during the 60s. She abruptly committed suicide in her handlers' arms. Ric O' Barry, her trainer, had since left Hollywood and continues to rehabilitate and release dolphins in Bali. Dolphins have the ability to self-asphyxiate and often times they get very depressed when not stimulated in captivity. She looked him in the eye; sank to the bottom of her pen and stopped breathing.

"The suicide was what turned me around," says O'Barry.

Support our Dolphin campaign here: Our Dolphin Campaign – HCF 𝘢 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘺


Thanks for reading!

I firmly believe that we are animals shepherds and as such, we owe it to them to provide them with the best life that we can. 


REVISED: 01/20/2022

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