5 alternatives to the zoo

Do you like animals? Zoos and aquariums aside, consider these 5 ethical choices instead.

Zoos and aquariums may have shaken your imagination and left you with unforgettable childhood memories. But now, far away from those innocent early moments of life, you understand that these tourist attractions are not ethical and beneficial for animals. Torn from their natural environment (sometimes violently), cut off from their natural instincts, alienated from their fellow human beings: the life of animals in captivity is far from satisfying.

However, you don’t have to give up your love of animals and the desire to approach them. Fortunately, there are a number of responsible alternatives to zoos and aquariums. We have listed some of them in this article. For adults and children alike, these organizations allow them to observe and engage with wildlife, while respecting living things.

However, it is important to make it clear that no solution is perfect. Each selected institution, either in France or abroad, will be subject to thorough research on your part to verify their good faith.

Why boycott zoos and aquariums?

Terrestrial and marine animals introduced into zoos, circuses and aquariums are often brutally torn from their natural environment. This painful and dangerous exploitation takes many different forms. For example, some rare fish that come into contact with humans are caught with a toxic product that puts them to sleep and leaves behind consequences.

Image source: Shutterstock / Andywak

In addition to being diverted from their natural habitat, some species (cats, dolphins, elephants, etc.) are sometimes trained in violent methods to entertain visitors. When out in space, animals in captivity find themselves with less space to move around. They can no longer indulge in the most basic and instinctive activities.

In addition, it is clear that the most adorable little animals or species attract the public. So the structures that keep the animals don’t hesitate to trade, sell or even kill the aging inhabitants. Finally, do you know zoochosis? A mental illness developed by certain animals in captivity. It causes feelings of frustration, boredom and depressive symptoms.

Animal victims may then adopt aggressive, regressive, or even self-destructive behavior. These are all the reasons that motivate us today to present you with refuges, sanctuaries or even nature reserves, where your joys are reconciled with the joys of ecosystems. .

However, even when choosing local reserves or animal shelters that are more or less geographically close, do a lot of research. Make sure the structure rescues animals legally, does not breed them or provide for-profit activities. Test:

  • Accreditation
  • Hours of visit (reduced capacity is a good sign)
  • Organizational social networks
  • Condition of living space and facilities
  • Activities offered (stroking a cat or climbing on an elephant’s back do not come naturally)
  • The level of stimulation provided to the residents
  • Skills and experience of recruited volunteers
  • Animal Acquisition System

Nature reserves and national/regional parks

With a pair of binoculars in hand, together with a local guide, enter the nature reserve to look for rare endemic animals. A nature reserve, national or regional, whose mission is to protect all living organisms and special or threatened ecosystems.

Plants and animals, soil, water, minerals and fossils, on land, at sea or even buried under our feet: everyone’s balance matters. Taking care of fragile and precious universes requires solid knowledge and strong commitment. As a result, nature reserves offer permanent restoration and maintenance work, environmental awareness programs, and monitoring of natural areas by a dedicated police force.

Nature reserve

Image credit: Jesus Noguera Photography

Many of the world’s best national and regional parks are found in Africa, including serengeti . national park in Tanzania and Kruger in South Africa. At the top, there are also Wyoming’s parks in the United States (such as Grand Teton and Yellowstone), chitwan national park in Nepal or by Jim Corbett in India.

Rest assured, France is not to be outdone with dozens of nature reserves including Vanoise, Pyrenees, Ecrins, Calanques and Overseas. the Mercantour National Parkfocus on the wolf’s protection, and Cevennes National ParkBiosphere reserve recognized by UNESCO, in the top of the best students in the world.

Animal sanctuary

Animal sanctuaries are perhaps the biggest stand against zoos. Passionate animal advocates and deep connections to nature invite visitors to interact and understand the species in a peaceful and natural setting.

In France, we recommend the reserve Aiseirigh, the refuge Arche, the AVA association or the Co & xister reserve, which are particularly famous. To quench your thirst for long-distance travel, why not head to Africa or the United States?


Image source: Shutterstock – Sourabh Bharti

For example, the SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary is a wildlife rehabilitation center and nature reserve spread over 6,000 hectares in South Africa. While the reserve was first a habitat and protection for local wildlife, today it is home to many species of wildlife rescued from poachers: giraffes, elephants, antelope, zebra, wildebeest, rhinoceros, hippopotamus and more. The sanctuary is designed purely to accommodate vegetarians.

There is also a Wildlife Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado, USA. This huge sanctuary is open to animals that have been rescued and brought into large natural areas for healing. Visitors can admire lions, tigers, bears, wolves, fur, lynx, etc. from an elevated walkway that crosses the grounds. Many animals come from zoos, circuses and amusement parks that mistreat captive species.



Image source: Shutterstock – Alliance Images

The farm is an integral part of the collective imagination. How many country barns are at the heart of childhood stories or good movies to watch under the blankets… But instead of reading them or seeing them on screen, why not come and live in the page? real camp?

Today, many farms are opening their doors and make a great alternative to circuses and zoos. Most of them offer fun and memorable activities: bottle-feeding lambs, milking cows, making goat cheeses, etc. In France, there are many platforms that specialize in farm holidays, in the gîtes or campsite, in the center of the farm.

  • damned
  • Welcome to the farm
  • Gites de France
  • Farmer at home

In addition to getting your hands on the dough and stepping into a farmer’s shoes, this stay allows you to provide a small additional income to committed producers and breeders.

And if you want to experiment with farming across borders, why not in the United States? Head to the north side of New York, home to the mythical Woodstock Ranch Animal Sanctuary. It welcomes animals that have survived abuse on farms, slaughterhouses or animal markets.

Cows, pigs, goats and even chickens are cared for in a specially designed hospital. This sanctuary provides educational visits for students and shows us that farm animals are just as endearing and cute as the dogs and cats that invade our social networks.

Medical centers and shelters

Care centers and shelters are alternative and ethical places where visitors are truly helpful. Adopted animals are often weak and in great need of love. For daily engagement, all you have to do is find a shelter near you and why not go for a few hours walk or play with loads of cats, dogs and other surprising species. While traveling, you will also have the opportunity to find incredible caring structures along the way. Here are a few.

At France :

  • Maison des Loups, in Orlu, works to conserve wolves and offers visitors the ability to access them through observation towers that are perfectly inserted into their natural habitat.
  • Rocamadour Monkey Forest, which allows the conservation and freedom of Barbary monkeys.
  • ParcOurs de Borce welcomes mountain animals, such as bears, that are injured, abused or threatened by environmental problems.

Asia is famous for elephants. However, very few encounters with pachyderms are ethical. These animals are among the most exploited and abused in the world. Fortunately, some centers allow visitors to meet these majestic animals with complete respect for their well-being.

monkey forest

Image source: Shutterstock – Emre Ucarer

Among these is Elephant Nature Park, Thailand. This is a rescue center located in Chiang Mai province. Its founder, “the man whispering in the elephant’s ear” has been fighting against animal abuse and exploitation since 1996. On site you will have access to the animals in complete freedom. in their natural environment. You can also feed them and participate in the daily mud bath.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Australia is the largest and oldest koala care center in the world. The shelter also collects kangaroos, reptiles and injured birds. At Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, visitors can approach snakes, feed kangaroos and cuddle koalas. They can also improvise as “one-day caretakers” and take on the role of koala custodians.

The Aldabra giant tortoise is a reptile endemic to the Seychelles. In particular, they are protected by the L’Union estate in La Digue, which is home to at least 20 adult giant tortoises. It also has a small nursery where baby turtles grow and develop in complete safety. Visitors can hang out with the turtles or feed them the large green leaves.

Natural environment

forest animals

Image source: Shutterstock – Milan Zygmunt

The most honest and respectful way of observing animals remains in their natural environment, with complete respect for their environment and way of life. For that, you don’t need much: hike in the woods or out in the open sea in a softboat or during a snorkeling session. Add to that a little calm and patience and the magic will work.

Few feel as great as those experienced when you encounter wild reindeer or behind a coral reef, the silhouette of a sea turtle. Around the world, you’ll find hundreds of responsible excursions and visits with expert and committed naturalists.

Depending on where you want to go, you could spot rare birds in Costa Rica, search for the Big Five in Africa, meet llamas in the Andean countries, and admire whales, sperm whales and marine crane in St. Lawrence in Canada, swim with the Purple Rays in Fiji or admire great apes in Bora Bora. All of these, like lucky spectators, are humble and invisible.

In general, these observational excursions (both at sea and on land) should ensure that tourists do not get too close and do not touch the animals. In addition, the latter should not be offered any food.
Finally, prioritize organizations with limited departures.

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