Caturday felid trifecta; Tiger, Lion, Serval, and Cheetahs (our four felids are…)

November 16, 2019 • 1:52 pm

by Greg Mayer

Jerry is working on a Caturday felid post, but, as we all know, he is traveling in Antarctica, and thus the timing of its completion could be delayed. So, here are some felids for your Caturday fix! First up, a Siberian Tiger (Panthera, tigris altaica).

Siberian Tiger, Milwaukee Zoo, 2 November 2019.

Siberian Tigers are the largest of the living cats, with body lengths (not including tail) exceeding 9 feet and weights exceeding 650 pounds. Like all tigers they are endangered, and occur in the Russian Far East and far northeastern China. I photographed this and the other cats during my vertebrate zoology class’s field trip to the Milwaukee Zoo, which I’ve already shown some penguins from.

Siberian Tiger, Milwaukee Zoo, 2 November 2019.

A few years ago, zoos began calling Siberian Tigers “Amur Tigers”, the Amur River being the border between Russia and China. I’m not sure why zoos did this, but I see no reason to change the English vernacular name, since most English speakers know Siberia, but relatively few know what the Amur River is.

There was also a Lion (Panthera leo), a large male, also tight asleep.

Lion at the Milwaukee Zoo, 2 November 2019.

Lions, as WEIT readers may know, were once widely distributed in southwestern Asia, and one population survives in the Gir Forest of northern India; the fellow above is one of the African subspecies.

The Zoo also has a Serval (Felis serval), another African cat, but ‘mid-sized’. I couldn’t get a good photo, but the vdeo gives you some idea of the appearance of this spotted cat. Note the short tail and large ears. His name is Amos.

I also saw one of the Zoo’s Jaguars (Panthera onca), but couldn’t get a good picture. This is not a great shot of their two Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), either– they were outdoors, and fairly far away. But they seemed so relaxed, I decided to post it anyway.

Cheetahs at the Milwaukee Zoo, 2 November 2019.

Cheetahs, like Lions, were once widely distributed in Africa and Asia. The Asian Cheetah was thought extinct, but was documented to still exist by camera-traps in Iran.

The present and former range of the Cheetah.

On this visit, I paid closer attention to the Zoo’s ‘big cat kitchen’, which is visible through a window, than I have on previous occasions.

The Big Cat Country kitchen at the Milwaukee Zoo, 2 November 2019.

I’ve visited the kitchen at the Racine Zoo. Not visible in this photo, but an important part of the kitchen’s tools from what I’ve seen in Racine, are the big knives used for cutting up the prepared diets, and the special protective gloves the keepers wear to protect their hands and fingers when doing so. There were two commercial diets visible on the counter: Toronto Zoo Feline Diet (which is horse meat, I believe)

Toronto Zoo Feline Diet.

and Nebraska Brand Feline Diet (this particular version is beef; the Zoo also uses a horse-based diet from Nebraska Brand).

Nebraska Brand Feline Diet (image flipped to allow easier label reading).

Also visible in the kitchen is a board which displays the daily ‘menus’ for each cat, along with their names. (That’s how I know the Serval is Amos. The male Lion must be Themba, the Siberian that I photographed is probably Kashtan, and both Cheetahs, Kira and Imara, are in the picture, but I don’t know which is which.) So, just as Jerry has been sharing his shipboard menus, here are the cat menus– click to enlarge!

Daily big cat “menus” at the Milwaukee Zoo.

Penguins… but more to come!

November 6, 2019 • 4:14 pm

by Greg Mayer

Jerry gave us our first taste of Antarctic wildlife from his expedition earlier today, showing some penguins on an iceberg. I think we can expect more shortly, but in the meantime here are some Humboldt Penguins (Spheniscus humboldti), native to the coasts of Peru and Chile.

Humboldt Penguins, Spheniscus humboldti, at the Milwaukee Zoo, 2 November 2019.

These are at the Milwaukee Zoo, where I took my vertebrate zoology class last Saturday. Humboldt Penguins form a superspecies with the Galapagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus, to the north, in the Galapagos) and the Magellanic Penguin (Sphensicus magellanicus, to the south, in southern Chile around to Argentina and the Falklands).

The Humboldts are in an outdoor exhibit, but there are more penguins in the Aviary, where I got a short video of a Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) swimming. Note how it uses its wings in a flying motion to propel itself through the water.

And, keep an eye out for wild penguins from Jerry!

Drawing blood from polar bears and microwaving grapes

February 20, 2019 • 2:30 pm

As I’ve clearly been unable to brain today, and can’t find much to inspire me, enjoy these two science-y videos. In the first one, sent by reader Michael, we see how the Toronto Zoo draws blood from a polar bear.  The clue is to distract the bear with delicious seal oil while he gets a stick in the paw.  The Zoo hastens to reassure viewers that bears aren’t forced to do this:

Watch the full video above to see male polar bear ‘Hudson’ participate in a voluntary blood draw session. In the video Hudson voluntarily allows Wildlife Health Technician, Dawn, to draw blood from his paw. All of the Zoo’s polar bears have the choice to leave the session at any time and they are positively reinforced for participating in the training. These behaviours not only keep the polar bears physically healthy, but mentally stimulated and engaged. Zoo staff voluntarily draw blood from each of the polar bears twice a month to compare their blood levels regularly as their diets vary seasonally.

Well, they don’t hurt the bear, but where do they get that seal oil?

Apparently there’s a YouTube craze of young folks microwaving grapes which, when they’re in pairs, creates sparks, as you see below.  So, if you go to a soirée that has grapes and a microwave in the kitchen, you can be the life of the party!

Why does this happen with grapes? Well, you can read the condensed version at Science or a longer explanation at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by clicking on the screenshot below.

I can’t help thinking that Khattak et al. did this out of pure fun, which would make a great Gary Larson cartoon. (That is, if Larson hadn’t demoralized a generation of scientists by ceasing to make cartoons.)

Anyhow, watch the video:


Ducks feeding

November 5, 2018 • 11:00 am

by Greg Mayer

With Honey and her fellow mallard inhabitants of Botany Pond in Chicago having flown the coop, and Jerry having done so himself for a few days, I had to travel north to Milwaukee to get my ration of duck feeding. There, on a visit with my vertebrate zoology class to the Milwaukee County Zoo, I was able to see Laysan Teal (Anas laysanensis) feeding.

Laysan Teal are relatives of mallards, and were once widespread in the Hawaiian archipelago, but were restricted to the small northwestern island of Laysan by the time of their scientific description by Lord Rothschild in 1892. They are still considered endangered, but other populations have been established by translocation within the Hawaiian Islands, and their numbers are now increasing. They do breed in captivity, and five ducklings were hatched at the Milwaukee County Zoo earlier this year.

Laysan Teal at the Milwaukee County Zoo, November 3, 2018.

The Teal are in the Aviary at the Zoo, in the Wetlands Hall, a large room with a “stream” running through it, surrounded by trees and herbaceous vegetation. Birds of several species fly about the hall. The teal prefer the shallow part of the stream.

A day at the Aquarium, part 2

December 30, 2015 • 12:15 pm

by Greg Mayer

Having emphazised the cartilaginous inhabitants of the  Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium yesterday, let’s go to a distant part of the phylogenetic tree today: manatees. There are three species of manatees (Trichechus), all in the tropical Atlantic or Atlantic drainages; this is either the West Indian (T. manatus) or West African (T. senegalensis) species.

A manatee
A manatee

The manatees were feeding on aquatic plants. Note that this one is using it’s right forelimb to manipulate the food.

A manatee feeding, using its right 'hand'.
A manatee feeding, using its right ‘hand’.

Their skin texture was interesting; I’m not sure what the white structures all over the skin are (hair?).

Closeup of a manatee's head while feeding
Closeup of a manatee’s head while feeding

And, in this very interesting view, we see a manatee supporting itself off the bottom with its right forelimb. We can clearly see its ‘fingernails’. (They are true nails– but it sort of doesn’t have fingers.)

Manatee supporting itself on its right forelimb. Note the nails and the flexure in the limb.
Manatee supporting itself on its right forelimb. Note the nails and the flexure in the limb.

In the picture above, we can also see the limb is flexed. The most distal curve, nearest the nails, is the joint between the phalanges and metacarpals; this is an extension. A bit above this, there is a slight flexion of the wrist joint. The elbow joint is considerably higher, near the body, with a slight flexion. This shows that, though paddle shaped, the limb is not stiff, but retains considerable mobility distal to the shoulder joint, allowing the manatee to use the limb in balancing and propulsion on the bottom, and, as seen three pictures above, as an aid in feeding. The diagram below shows the manatee’s limb skeleton, which shows the familiar “one bone, two bones, many bones” pattern of tetrapods and their immediate lobed fin ancestors.

Forelimb skeleton of the West Indian manatee, from
Forelimb skeleton of the West Indian manatee, Fig. 379 from Henry Alleyne Nicholson, 1880, A Manual of Zoology, Blackwood (

I’ve been fascinated by manatees and their relatives (the mammalian order Sirenia) ever since reading years ago about Steller’s sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas), a giant sirenian of the cold North Pacific, which was discovered by scientists in 1741 and extinct by 1768. (There have been some intriguing late sight records, but none have panned out). Then, in graduate school at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, I walked underneath the following Steller’s sea cow skeleton almost every day (it hung in a different hall back then; it’s now in the main mammal hall). Note that this specimen lacks the distal parts of its forelimbs.

Steller's seacow at the MCZ, by
Steller’s seacow at the MCZ, by mhmcfee (

The evolution of sirenians from terrestrial ancestors is fairly well documented in the fossil record, much of the work being done by Daryl Domning of Howard University. The story is not as widely known as that of whales, and I don’t know of any single sirenian evolution website, but you could start learning the story here and here.

A day at the Aquarium

December 29, 2015 • 2:00 pm

by Greg Mayer

My Okinawa correspondents spent Boxing Day at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, and sent me a bunch of pictures. The aquarium is a sprawling complex on the coast in northwestern Okinawa, and includes large areas of gardens and park land, and a recreation of traditional Okinawan homes and buildings, as well as the aquarium proper.

Okinawa Charaumi Aquarium
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

It reminded me, as I’m sure it did many of you, of the Sausalito Cetacean Institute. That’s Ie Shima island in the background.

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

One of the main attractions at the Aquarium is the Kuroshio Sea Tank. It’s enormous.

Kuroshio Sea Tank
Kuroshio Sea Tank

When my correspondents told me they were going to the Aquarium, they mentioned something about “whale sharks”, but I didn’t query them further. It turns out the Aquarium actually has whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), the world’s largest species of fish!

A whale shark
A whale shark

And not just one!

Two whale sharks
Two whale sharks

Although whale sharks are, for sharks, specialized feeders– they feed on plankton– they are “typical shark” shaped.

Sharks are cartilaginous fishes (Chondrichthyes), which are of two main types: the Holocephali, comprising the ratfishes and chimaeras (we’ve mentioned them here before at WEIT), and the Elasmobranchi, comprising sharks and rays. Most people have a good idea of what sharks and rays look like. Here are some more typical sharks (I don’t know what species– any shark people out there?) Note that the gill slits are on the side of the head; the fellow in the middle is male, as you can tell by the large claspers medial to the pelvic fins.

Typical sharks
Typical sharks

And here’s a typical ray (again, no ID). Note the flattened shape, and the spiracles (whitish bits) behind the eyes– these are the vestigial first pair of gill slits. The flat body of the ray is mostly the greatly enlarged pectoral fins.

A ray

Most people also know the manta ray (Manta birostris). It’s a little unusual for a ray, being pelagic and filter feeding, so the mouth is at the front tip of the body– and, it’s got those crazy cephalic fins or “horns”, from whence it gets the alternative vernacular name “devil fish”. Do note that the gills are on the bottom of the head.

A manta ray
A manta ray

There is more diversity among sharks and rays than most people realize. Sawfish, which look a lot like sharks with a saw strapped to their snout, are actually rays, but shouldn’t be confused with the similar looking saw shark, which is a shark. There are also angel sharks, which look a lot like rays, and guitarfish, which are rays that look a lot like sharks– in fact, more shark-looking than angel sharks.

I’ve never seen either angel sharks or guitarfish in any aquarium, and thus was delighted to find that Okinawa Churaumi has guitarfish (which, remember, are rays). Here’s a guitarfish surrounded by three sharks, with a typical ray off to the right (and a shadowy form below and to the right). If you look carefully, you can see the spiracle (again, whitish looking) on top of the head, behind the eye.

A guitarfish with three sharks (one only a tail), a typical ray, and a menacing black hulk).
A guitarfish with three sharks (one only a tail), a typical ray, and a shadowy form below and to the right.

In the following picture, we get a really good view of why it’s a ray. Note that the gill slits are on the bottom of the head, as is the mouth (the latter is typical, but not diagnostic, of rays). And, the pectoral fin is joined seamlessly to the head– at a point above, in fact, of the gill slits (which is why the slits are on the bottom of the head). The spiracle, already spatially distant from the other gill slits in sharks, is thus, in rays, separated from the other slits by the interposition of the enlarged pectoral fin.

The underside of a guitarfish's head
The underside of a guitarfish’s head

In the next (and last) picture, note that the dorsal, caudal, and pelvic fins all are at least passably shark-like, but that the enlarged pectoral fin is being flapped for locomotion in the manner of a ray. (Also, it’s a male– you can see the free distal ends of the claspers below the second dorsal.)

A guitarfish swimming along the bottom.
A guitarfish swimming along the bottom.

More on the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium tomorrow.

SeaWorld to end its orca shows

November 10, 2015 • 11:15 am

Over the years I’ve written several posts (and letters to newspapers and aquaria) protesting the captivity of large marine mammals and their use in “shows” as a form of entertainment (see here, here and here, for example). SeaWorld in San Diego, California and Orlando, Florida were notorious places for this kind of captivity and entertainment, and pressure on that organization built after the release of the 2013 documentary film Blackfish, exposing SeaWorld’s inhumane treatment of orcas (killer whales; Orcinus orca).

I don’t think SeaWorld ever recovered from that movie (full disclosure: I haven’t yet seen it). And, according to yesterday’s Guardian, the “theme park” is ending its killer-whale shows in San Diego next year in response to customer complaints:

Joel Manby, SeaWorld’s chief executive, said he had listened to guests’ criticism of its Shamu stadium whale circus and it would end the “theatrical killer whale experience” in San Diego by the end of 2016.

He said the company will replace its Californian Shamu show – in which whales dive, jump and splash guests to the demands of their trainers – with “an all new orca experience focused on the natural environment [of the whales]”.

“We are listening to our guests, evolving as a company, we are always changing,” Manby said as he unveiled a new corporate strategy on Monday. “In 2017 we will launch an all new orca experience focused on natural environment [of whales]. 2016 will be the last year of our theatrical killer whale experience in San Diego.”

There are, however, two remaining problems:

[Manby] said the company will replace its Californian Shamu show – in which whales dive, jump and splash guests to the demands of their trainers – with “an all new orca experience focused on the natural environment [of the whales]”.

“We are listening to our guests, evolving as a company, we are always changing,” Manby said as he unveiled a new corporate strategy on Monday. “In 2017 we will launch an all new orca experience focused on natural environment [of whales]. 2016 will be the last year of our theatrical killer whale experience in San Diego.”

. . . The orca whale theatrical performances will continue at SeaWorld’s other killer whale parks in San Antonio, Texas, and Orlando, Florida.

Problem One, then, is that the San Diego facility will still be keeping orcas in captivity. While some readers may disagree, I feel that these creatures belong in the wild, where they roam, and were evolved to roam, over hundreds of kilometers of open sea and where they also live in social groups: something not possible when they’re in Whale Jail. Further, if the San Diego facility is closing because of customer complaints, why not the facilities in San Antonio and Orlando? Why will whales still be doing their tricks there?

Second, ending the orca shows at only one facility implies that SeaWorld is making its decision purely on the grounds of profit rather than genuine concern for the animals. And although the San Diego facility says it’s now concentrating on educating people about conservation of orcas, well, that species is not clearly endangered, and its cause isn’t helped by catching the whales and putting them in jail. If people want to learn about whales, the best thing to do is read about them and watch videos on YouTube. It’s not clear to me that whale shows and captive animals really help the species in the wild.

One more note: I’m told by some defenders of whale captivity that the animals don’t show any obvious stress in captivity, and get medical treatment and decent and reliable food. Well, imagine a Martian zoologist observing human prisoners in jail (especially if their captors were intelligent orcas). Those zoologists would draw the same conclusion.

h/t: Gravelinspector

Leaping lizards!

May 15, 2014 • 11:53 am

Before someone corrects me, yes, I know that crocodiles aren’t lizards (they’re in different orders of reptiles), but the title of the post will resonate with you if you’re “of a certain age,” as they say.

TheYouTube notes give the location, and I’m not sure how I feel about keeping crocs in captivity and having them do tricks for people. I suspect, though, that, being sedentary, they don’t suffer from this as much as do beluga whales, porpoises, or orcas:

Thanks to in Darwin, Australia. You can feed crocodiles, swim with crocodiles, and get really up close to them. Feeding them using a fishing rod is a really unique experience, as you can see they can jump completely out of the water.

The behavior is surprising, though. Given that they probably never do this in nature, it must be something of a spandrel (a byproduct of another evolved behavior), supported by the observation that they seem to leap by making swimming motions.

Further notes by Greg Mayer

These are saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) at Crocosaurus Cove, a reptile zoo in Darwin, Northern Territory. “Salties” are known for their ability to jump vertically, but this is the only film in which I’ve seen them completely clear the water. (There’s a possibility that the crocodile whose tail left the water may have been hanging on to a “fishing” line, and thus been partially pulled up, but although no segment shows both the head and the tail out of water simultaneously, I think they are actually leaving the water on their own.) The usual context for seeing these vertical leaps by salties are by wild crocodiles which have become habituated to the presence of tour boats and the food proffered from them.

"Brutus", the one-armed saltwater crocodile, jumping for tourists on the Adelaide River, Northern Territory. Photo from Courier Mail, Brisbane.
“Brutus”, the one-armed saltwater crocodile, jumping for tourists on the Adelaide River, Northern Territory. Photo from Courier Mail, Brisbane.

“Brutus”, said to be 5.5 m long,  is much larger than the crocs in the film, and I don’t think he would be able to leave the water completely. (You can judge the size of a saltie by the shape of the head– they start out narrow, and get relatively broader and more massive as they get bigger.)

The way the crocs jump is by using their standard swimming motion: lateral undulation, legs tucked in, with the tail providing most of the propulsion. In jumping, they swim straight up (instead of more horizontally), and develop enough head of steam to partially or entirely break the water surface. Jerry supposes that they never do this in nature, but I’m not so sure. A number of crocodilians are known to skulk around waterbird rookeries, eating the birds that may fall out of the trees into the water, and there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t jump up to grab a bird as well. Here’s a photo of a Nile crocodile going after a grey heron from the National Geographic photo contest. (But note: the water that this Nile croc is in is much shallower, and it may be pushing off with its feet rather than its tail.)

Nile crocodile jumping for grey heron. Photo from Adelaide Advertiser.
Nile crocodile jumping for grey heron. Photo from Adelaide Advertiser.

h/t: Matthew Cobb

Does SeaWorld tranquilize its animals?

April 4, 2014 • 9:03 am

I’ve always been critical of places where large, captive animals are displayed to the public as entertainment, and aquaria that house large cetaceans (or mammals like sea otters) are a prime offender. For me, SeaWorld is the most egregious of these, and I’ve posted about it, and about the recent movie “Blackfish,” made about its orcas (killer whales) here.

As I wrote at the time:

Some aquaria will argue that keeping such animals in captivity helps us better understand their biology, enabling us to conserve them better. But orcas, seals, and belugas are not endangered, and at any rate real refereed scientific publications from large aquaria or sea-mammal emporia are thin on the ground.  Let’s admit it: places like SeaWorld are in business for one reason: to make money, no matter how much they claim to be educational organizations. And yes, I’ll admit that some of the keepers and employees do love and care about their charges, but it doesn’t matter. Those charges should be swimming free in the sea.

. . . There is no justification for keeping orcas, beluga whales, and other sea mammals in captivity.  They belong in the wild, where they would be if they had a choice, but are simply exploited as cash cows for institutions and corporations.  I urge the readers to stay away from places like SeaWorld, where the animals are even asked to do tricks before a paying audience. It’s ineffably sad, and demeaning to these magnificent creatures.  We are the only species that enslaves other species to entertain and enrich ourselves. [Last sentence modified from earlier post]

These captive animals often appear stressed to me, engaging in repetitive, neurotic behaviors that bespeak some type of mental distress. You’ve all seen this in zoos, with bears or tigers neurotically pacing back and forth in their cages. And it always breaks my heart. I no longer go to zoos or aquaria.

It turns out that aquaria recognize this distress, but apparently have chosen, in at least one case, to relieve it with—wait for it—tranquilizers. And that place is SeaWorld

According to a story in ZME Science and an article in BuzzFeed, this information emerged during a dispute between SeaWorld and Marineland (the latter a theme park and aquarium in Niagara Falls, Canada) over the transfer of an orca.  During a deposition that took place during the dispute, a veterinarian found out that an aggressive orca at SeaWorld had been given benzodiazepine, a sedative and tranquilizer (Valium is one form) to prevent it from hurting other whales. The testimony, which is at the BuzzFeed site, includes the statement below:

Screen shot 2014-04-04 at 8.05.57 AM
Now this is only a single animal, and we shouldn’t go off half-cocked about every orca or animal being tranquilized, but one wonders how many have been. The response of SeaWorld does not reassure me that this is a one-off occurrence:

A spokesperson for SeaWorld Fred Jacobs defended the medication in an emailed statement.

“Benzodiazepines are sometimes used in veterinary medicine for the care and treatment of animals, both domestic and in a zoological setting,” Jacobs said. “These medications can be used for sedation for medical procedures, premedication prior to general anesthesia, and for the control of seizures. The use of benzodiazepines is regulated, and these medications are only prescribed to animals by a veterinarian. Their use for cetacean healthcare, including killer whales, is limited, infrequent, and only as clinically indicated based on the assessment of the attending veterinarian. There is no higher priority for SeaWorld than the health and well-being of the animals in its care.”

This doesn’t answer the question. It would behoove SeaWorld to come clean about whether this tranquilizing of orcas is unique, or has happened more often.  If it’s a regular practice when orcas get antsy, it’s all the more reason to question the existence of using large, free-roaming sea mammals as entertainment.
BuzzFeed adds this:
The questions about the drugs given to the whales, which also include a range of antibiotics, come as SeaWorld is reeling from a critical documentary. Blackfish tells the story of a killer whale named Tilikum, who’s been accused of killing three people but is still retained by SeaWorld. Tilikum’s genes are found in 54% of the whales in SeaWorld’s current whale collection, and has fathered at least 21 whales from artificial insemination.
I haven’t seen “Blackfish,” by the way, but it’s gotten tremendously high ratings on Rotten Tomatoes (98% critics approval, 91% public) and approbation in other place.  If you’ve seen it, weigh in below.
Animal welfare groups have chimed in against this kind of drugging. The statement below seems eminently reasonable to me:

The founder of the Orca Research Trust, Ingrid Visser, said the drugs are likely treating a condition caused by captivity, and that their violence is the result of stress, not native aggression.

“They do not cope with being kept in these tanks. They survive to some degree, but they don’t thrive to any degree,” Visser said. “They show stereotypical behaviors that are abnormal, repetitive behaviors like head bobbing, chewing on concrete, and self mutilation by banging the side of their heads on the side of the tank, and there isn’t a single orca living in captivity where you cannot see one of these behaviors, and in many of them you see multiple examples of these behaviors.”

Yes, I’ve seen those behaviors, and I’ve seen them here in Chicago at the Shedd Aquarium. When I described the incident to aquarium officials (I believe it was a seal, but it could have been an otter, swimming stereotypically and repetitively in a very narrow tank), my complaint was ignored.

PETA has made a characteristically over-the-top criticism, but really, read it. The animals are indeed kept to do what I see as stupid tricks, though I have no idea whether they are, as PETA maintains, “full of psychotropic drugs”:

PETA’s president, Ingrid Newkirk, accused SeaWorld of “pump[ing] these marine slaves full of psychotropic drugs in order to force them to perform stupid tricks.”

Once again I reiterate my plea—which will be ignored—to stop confining large, free-roaming mammals in small aquaria, especially for public entertainment. The educational benefits are minimal, especially when compared to the distress of the animals. Some people defend this practice, saying that, “Well, the animals seem healthy and content,” but a Martian, observing human prisoners in a jail, would say the same thing. Like the human prisoners, the animals, if given a choice, wouldn’t be there.  (And, of course, there are those abnormal behaviors. . )

I want them set free, but that won’t happen so long as there is money to be made. In my view, these animals are confined against their will to entertain the public and enrich the owners. It’s a bad business all around.