Opinion: Captive breeding of endangered animals needs to stop

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A tiger is in a cage that does not meet the environmental standards it needs in order to thrive.

After watching the exhausting and emotional rollercoaster (or should I say roaring-coaster) of Tiger King, I never realized some of the controversial topics on endangered species. The documentary was initially supposed to be about the big cat sanctuaries and how each one is different, but when the documentary series was released, it was made clear that the focus is on the wild personalities of the people who run the companies and organizations.   

Captive breeding of tigers is a topic introduced in the show, but there is no real conclusion on the subject. The laws around exotic animals and breeding are a grey area as well. This leads the viewers to form their own opinions.

After many long discussions with friends and family and research on both topics, captive breeding of endangered animals seems to be doing more harm than good. 

According to Finding Porpoise, captive breeding programs are zoo or rescue departments where animals are kept in enclosures and are bred to produce their future generations. Endangered animals are bred most of the time.

This may seem harmless, but the defects are costly. 

One main issue is genetic disorders from inbreeding. If there are not enough big cats in the confines of a sanctuary, inbreeding occurs. Deformations can include crossed eyes, deformed paws and spines, blindness, deafness, and more. 

Many cubs (or baby tigers) are put down because of the number of health issues they experience from genetic disorders. 

Another issue is the change in animal behavior. Even though rescues do their best with creating a simulation of an animal’s natural habitat, most do not have the resources and space to fully mimic the environment. With this change of environment also comes the evolution of the animal’s behavior, which creates different adaptations for its species.    

However, some may argue captive breeding is not entirely a monstrous idea. Zoos create a substantial income to protect these animals and prevent endangered animal extinction. They also raise awareness of climate change and how harmful it is to the animals when their habitat is being interfered with by humans, leaving people with a different perspective. 

While it has some positives, this might not be the most ethical and moral system.  

An organization can make a profit off of people playing and cuddling with exotic animals who belong in the wild. The animals are not built to interact with people, and some organizations that captive breed take advantage of that. Some are so desperate for money that cross-breeding will occur, which will only lead to more genetic disorders.

Instead of supporting private breeding of wild animals, support habitat restoration, population protection, and anti-poaching efforts. Tiger King made the hosts of these sanctuaries seem insane, but there are always more opportunities to support these beautiful creatures.