Keeping wild animals in captivity seems to me hard to justify, especially now that we can buy a DVD of their life in the wild full of amazing insights and knowledgeable, whispered commentary. I know that, by doing research on such creatures, we may be able to promote breeding and preserve species better -although an even more successful technique would simply be for Homo Sapiens to keep the hell away from their habitats.
My main concern is that, whilst it’s fine by me to cage birds or iguanas, it really can’t be ok to lock up jaguars and polar bears -these creatures are prone to develop all sorts of apparent disturbed mental states, as evidenced by pacing and self harm behaviours.
Today’s invention is an attempt to alleviate the boredom which such animals must surely experience. Existing ‘enrichment’ activities…ie the odd rubber ring tossed over the fence, would be enhanced by use of in-cage VR. One wall of an enclosure could have projected on it films of the animals’ native environment (these could be fed, in realtime, from webcams eg in Africa or wherever, so that the sound effects and light levels would be real).
I’d also try techniques such as playing noises of predators occasionally and even releasing into the cage robotic ‘prey’ which could be chased by the animal in question. The introduction of interesting smells might also occasionally help to maintain mental health.