Locked inside a cage and holding a sign that reads, “Try to Relate to Their Fate – Say No to Zoos”, cricketer Pragyan Ojha protested against the imprisonment of animals in zoos in Hyderabad. Ojha, who has won several awards for his performance on the field, spoke about how animals suffer when they are locked in cages and tiny exhibits at zoos.
“Just the thought of getting locked up in a tiny cage, even for a short time, makes my head spin. Think about the animals who are locked up their entire lives”, Ojha says. “Animals don’t belong in cages. They deserve to roam, explore, socialise and enjoy freedom just like us.”
Despite the 2009 Central Zoo Authority ban on keeping elephants in zoos and requiring zoos to move elephants gradually into forest areas, the Hyderabad Zoo still exhibits them. Captive elephants are typically separated from their families as babies and are sentenced to a lifetime of boredom, loneliness and even abuse. They are often forced to stand on hard concrete and spend hours on end in chains.
Denied everything that is natural and important to them, animals in zoos often express their frustration and loneliness through obsessive, repetitive and even self-destructive behaviour, such as pacing, head-bobbing and self-mutilation.
Ojha joins a growing list of athletes and other celebrities – including cricketer Wayne Parnell, badminton champion Jwala Gutta, sitar player Anoushka Shankar and actor Rahul Khanna, who have teamed up with PETA in order to speak out against the cruelty of zoos.
You can, too! Encourage your local zoo to stop breeding animals simply in order to keep them locked up. And instead of supporting zoos, support organisations that help protect animals in their natural habitat.