By Tom Dare
TOUCHING IMAGES showing animals from around the world in captivity have been released as part of a new book hoping to make us reconsider our relationship with the natural world.
Spanning five continents and over 20 countries, work for the book Captive has seen photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur spend the past decade of her life visiting zoos and aquaria around the world to take a series of stunning pictures that really shine a light on what life is like for animals in captivity.
And Jo-Anne, whose new book follows up on her successful 2013 title We Are Animals, says she hopes the images in the book can help to re-open the debate on captivity.
“The book aims to bring the conversation about zoos back to the individuals trapped in zoos and aquaria,” she said.
“Quite often we (both the public and zoo staff), defend the very real problems of captivity with the conservation argument.
“Sometimes that’s valid, as there are sometimes successful breeding or reintroduction programs, but for the most part it really isn’t.
“A huge number of individuals are paying the price for our desire to see them in the city. They suffer boredom, loneliness, and depression, which can be caused by the extreme lack of autonomy.
“The book aims to turn the conversation back to them, and ask us if this is really fair. I believe it isn’t, and that there are exciting and innovative ways forward; away from zoos and towards great new models for seeing and interacting with animals.”
Jo-Anne got the idea for the book after being asked by animal rights organisation the Born Free Foundation to document animals in captivity for a study they were conducting.
And she says she’s always found it hard to visit zoos and aquaria, with several specific photos from the Captive book really sticking with her.
“I definitely find it had to face these animals, day after day, and not be able to help them,” she said.
“This goes for all of my work over the past 15 years, be it at zoos, factory farms, fur farms, rodeos, or bullfights. I get to leave, they don’t.
“We visit zoos and aquaria but we are so caught up in our own experiences that we fail to see the animal in front of us; we fail to see what their lives might be like.
“There are images that show the absurdity of where we put and house animals, like the giraffe with the Ikea sign, and the Plains buffalo with the apartment and construction in the background, that stick with me most.”
Captive is out now, and can be purchased on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1590565622/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501252783&sr=8-1&keywords=captive+joanne