Why do animals live longer in captivity than in the wild?

Answered by Sunny Katseanes, Education Curator, Idaho Falls Zoo

Zoo3Animals live longer in captive facilities like your Idaho Falls Zoo, that are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, because they don’t have to face the same challenges as they do in the wild. There are no predators or poachers, they don’t have to forage or hunt for food (in fact their diets are scientifically researched to provide the best nutrition possible), and they get almost instantaneous, high-quality medical care provided to them their entire lives. Accredited zoos and aquariums have exceedingly high animal welfare standards as taking care of the animals and providing them a good life is always our #1 mission. Nature, on the other hand, is an extremely tough place for a wild animal to try to make a living!


Basic Needs of Animals
In order to survive, animals need water, food, and shelter (protection from predators and the environment) and space. Thehabitat in which each animal livesneeds to provide these basic need in order for the animal to survive.

Zoo5Form a Healthy Habitat
Materials Needed: 20-30 friends, large space

  1. Create groups of 4 children. Label each friend in the group as food, shelter, water, or space. All must work together to form a healthy habitat.
  2. Have teams interlock arms to form a habitat chain. On your signal, have the habitat teams move around.
  3. If the chain breaks, the team is out. Stop the game after 1 minute.
  4. Ask the team members why they came apart. Were they working together as a chain?
  5. Introduce a friend as a threat to the habitat (pollution, drought, etc.). Play another round having the habitat teams try to avoid the threat.
  6. If the threat tags one of the habitat team members, then the whole team is out. If the chain breaks, the team is out. The last team remaining is the healthiest.

It takes all the basic needs in a habitat to keep an animal healthy. All parts of the habitat depend on each other and if one of the parts of the habitat is threatened, the habitat can’t support the animal.

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