The general public received word of the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens’ (L.A. Zoo) plan to expand the zoo into more of an amusement park. This is surprising for many including myself, as one may assume expansions would serve medical and research purposes.
It should be expected for the zoo to be transparent about their plans, with a detailed run-down on how the animals will be accommodated in and out of their environment throughout construction. However, no such plans have been publicly shared .
Some modifications the L.A. Zoo has responded to include a hilltop building overlooking a vineyard, a gondola, and even a 60-foot canyon for rock climbing. The zoo’s goal seems to be focused on attracting tourism and gaining greater profits rather than making improvements for its animals. Why would a zoo need a 60-foot canyon unless it was being used as an animal habitat? This seems wrong. Not only are these animals being used as a spectacle for business, but now their natural way of living will be disrupted with construction that doesn’t even improve their environment.
In addition to the complete disregard of the animals well-being, there is also the issue of 23 acres of native woodland, with 227 city-protected trees, being put at risk by construction. The L.A. Zoo addressed this issue and advertised a possible alternative plan that would avoid a large portion of this undeveloped and protected land. This plan would cut out a lot of these amusement park-type modifications, but it has not been adopted yet. This screams that the L.A. Zoo is aware of alternative choices that are more environmentally friendly, but is reluctant to give up the big attractions for the sake of profit.
A serious concern is that the L.A. Zoo is wasting money and land on plans that don’t have their animals’ best interests in mind. There is so much potential for improvement in the areas of research to enrich habitats. When the well-being of animals and natural, protected land are being put on the line, it is important to think about necessity and who or what this project is really for.
The main purpose of the zoo and aquarium industry should be to protect, research, conserve, and exhibit aquatic and land animals to the public. With these new proposed modifications, I worry the L.A. Zoo is focusing more on the theme park and entertainment industry instead of its animals. For perspective, this is akin to SeaWorld. The main goal of a zoo, in my opinion, should not intersect with other industries that do not prioritize their animals. This would take away funding for the expansion of enriched habitats, conservations, and research facilities.