Spotting the Difference: A Guide for the Misguided

Spotting the Difference: A Guide for the Misguided

Stock photo of a Hyacinth macaw.

Often times, we let our emotions take over when talking about the welfare of our animal friends. Whether we are talking about captive animals, or wildlife, we always tend to do this certain thing where we humanize or try to connect with the animal in some way. Before we continue, it is important to understand that some animals thrive in captivity, and some do not. 

Have you ever heard of either term? Do you know the difference? Which do you support?

"Animal Welfare is pro-animal ownership. It recognizes the human-animal bond, recognizes the value of quality animal care and purposeful breeding, and supports advancing science to ensure the health and wellbeing of animals.

Animal Rights posits that humans should not use or own animals in any way, even as companions-."

-quote from American Kennel Club, Mar 06, 2017

What exactly is the point of an animal rights movement? Is the movement in itself counterintuitive? We know that captivity is last resort for some of our critically endangered animals. Why would we not want to support that?

We have seen cases where captivity has failed our wildlife by neglecting care, or by mismanagement resulting in the killing of important endangered species, such as the slaying of Eko at the Naples Zoo this past month when he bit the arm of a man afterhours. On the other hand, captivity has provided viable programs that not only saved species from extinction, but also reintroduced countless animals back into their natural habitats in the wild. 

So is captivity in its entirety bad? No, of course not. We just need to manage our animals better in captivity and stop taking certain species from the wild. There are global initiatives in place protecting some of our most important animals right where they are, in the wild. 

Pair of Ara De Spix image from Flying Mama. 

You guessed it! This is the macaw featured in the hit film, Rio. Spix's macaws, also known as Ara De Spix, are functionally extinct in the wild. Their only safe haven being captivity. These birds sadly did not thrive in their natural habitat. Thanks to a group of Brazilian zoologists and biologists from the Curitiba Zoo, their existence is a miracle and their efforts to reintroduce the animal have been a success for captivity. Their breeding program has been producing numerous offspring with hopes to send some individuals back into the wild. 

As we learned in my last blog entry, we have roughly 100 Malayan tigers in captivity, minus one. That is half of the amount that are in the wild. Considering we nearly played catch up to their wild counterparts, can you imagine the positives of reintroducing them to a protected habitat in their native country? Following actions from the 2020 National Tiger Protection Plan for Malaysia, I think we are on the right track. Eko was a great loss that could have greatly benefitted his own species. At 8 years old, the tiger became a memory for us to learn from. 

Crested Gecko photograph from

Crested Geckos were first discovered in 1866 by French zoologist Antoine Guichenot. The animals were believed to be extinct since 1967, however, populations were found in areas of New Caledonia. With populations decreasing, most of these animals are actually found in captivity. These animals could potentially be reintroduced into its natural habitat thanks to its introduction into the pet trade. They have very basic care and needs, so they make an awesome pet! Be aware, they like to do what I call "suicide jumps." They leap from any ledge regardless of height, often times falling to their deaths, which is why we probably see so few of them in the wild.


Photo of young nursing Spix's macaws from the breeding program at Curitiba Zoo. Green is red-necked amazon. 

One animal that does NOT thrive in a tank is the dolphin. Kathy, also known as Flipper, was a female dolphin featured in a hit film during the 60s. She abruptly committed suicide in her handlers' arms. Ric O' Barry, her trainer, had since left Hollywood and continues to rehabilitate wild dolphins in Bali. Dolphins have the ability to self-asphyxiate and often times get very depressed when not stimulated in captivity. Dolphins and whales do not typically thrive under our care long-term. She looked him in the eye; sank to the bottom of her pen and stopped breathing.

"The suicide was what turned me around," says O'Barry.

Support our Dolphin campaign here: Our Dolphin Campaign – HCF 𝘢 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘺


Thanks for reading!

I firmly believe that we are animals shepherds and as such, we owe it to them to provide them with the best life that we can. 


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