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PLATFORM : Converting Zoos

April 09, 1992| TONI HOPMAN is president of Los Angeles-based Animal Allies, a national organization that advocates animal rights. Commenting on zoos and the controversy surrounding Hannibal, the elephant who died after being sedated by Los Angeles Zoo workers , she told The Times:

When you confine animals, you take away their ability to act naturally and instinctively. The incident involving the elephant is just one sign of extreme exploitation.

Some claim that children need zoos to learn about animals. However, there are nature programs on television that show animals in their natural habitat. No one needs to see an animal in a cage to learn about nature. Zoo operators are involved in financial exploitation.

Animal captivity is justified only when you confine an endangered species long enough to ensure that there will be future generations. When the threat of extinction passes, those animals should be returned to the wild.

We don't have enough parks and open spaces for people in big American cities. We should shut down zoos and convert them into parks. By creating parks from zoos, we could end this exploitation and give people more opportunities to interact in open spaces.

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