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A life sentence

Dear Editor,
The death of Puan the orang-utan at Perth Zoo is a sad day, that marks the end of an even sadder life. Puan had been confined in zoos for most of her life, and was moved from Malaysia to Perth when she was only twelve years old.
Zoos deny animals everything that makes their lives worth living. Animals born in captivity still have the innate desire to move about and roam freely, to seek out mates and friends, and to engage in behaviours that aren't possible in a zoo. Genetic imperatives don’t somehow disappear just because an animal isn't where he or she is supposed to be.
Zoo breeding programmes also give the public a false sense that something meaningful is happening to save animals, when in reality they serve no conservation purpose, because animals born in zoos are rarely returned to their natural habitats. In fact, Puan gave birth to 11 babies during her captivity, most of whom are confined in zoos around the world.
Today’s incredible technology, virtual field trips, IMAX movies, and wildlife documentaries are a far better way to teach children about the wonders of the animal kingdom than visiting depressed animals held in captivity.
We urge everyone who genuinely cares about orang-utans and all the other animals serving life sentences in zoos to recognise these institutions for what they are – prisons with living exhibits. Let's refuse to patronise them, and instead donate to campaigns that actually protect animals in their native habitats.
Desmond Bellamy
Special Projects Coordinator
PETA Australia
PO Box 2352
Byron Bay NSW 2481
0411 577416