Tales from the Wild Side –

October 19, 2011 by  
Filed under In the Wild


Talking with Zoo Animals

by Kim Shotola


As you listened to my talk, you probably realized that zoo animals - animals in captivity - have a lot in common with the animals you care for.  If you have questions about this aspect of my presentation, please post those questions here.

I would also be please to hear your thoughts and feelings about the talk.

In addition, I invite you to ask questions about  how to make the animals in your care happier and how to help them achieve great balance on all levels - physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual.

Thank you.
Kim Shotola


2 Responses to “Tales from the Wild Side –”
  1. jetblackcatfan says:

    Hi Kim,
    Thank you for your inspiring talk on zoo animals and some of your AC experiences with them. I was also happy to hear that some of the animals are quite happy about their living conditions there and that safety and the loving relationships they have with their keepers are enough to keep them from missing the wild. However, I did have the thought that not all zoos are as enriching and as good quality in care as yours is.

    There has recently been a very sad occurrence in the Toronto zoo where a female Polar Bear gave birth to 3 cubs and she killed 2 of them. I have always wondered why this happens quite frequently in zoos especially with the larger animals like bears and whales, where the young either die very young or the mothers don’t want to care for them. Why do you think this is? What has crossed my mind, especially with very social animals such as killer whales is that the mothers don’t want their young to be raised in captivity as they don’t want the confinement to be their offsprings legacy. Am I just being negative here, or what do you think the reason is? It is something that has really bothered me.
    Thank you for your feedback,

    • Hi Karen,
      Thank you for your response. It is true that not all zoos have the same standards of care. If they are accredited by the Zoo & Aquarium Association, they are upheld to high standards.

      I don’t know the details of the Toronto Zoo incidence, but mothers kill their young for multiple reasons, whether in captivity or the wild. If the mother is a new mother or gets stressed in any way, she may kill her offspring. This happens with smaller animals, too. Sometimes with animals in captivity, it is a learning experience though, for the caregivers. Some mothers can’t tolerate human interaction other than putting down food and water, even if the keepers having been caring for that animal for years. Anything more, including trying to make their enclosure as sanitary as possible which would be part of the normal daily routine, may be too much and stress them to the point that they will kill their offspring. Many years ago when I was involved with breeding fennec foxes at the zoo, we learned this the hard way. But then I became instrumental with researching with other zoos and finding out it was happening to them, too. I found out what worked asap, including having to keep guests from coming any where near the exhibit, and we had success. I then shared my knowledge with other zoos so that they would have a positive experience, too. I do know, also, that some animals don’t want to be in captivity at all. It is possible that they don’t want their offspring there, too. But overall, I believe that is the exception.