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Why zoos are simply prisons for animals

I REFER to the recent letter submitted by Richard Spencer (WriteBack, October 13), regarding the confinement of zoo animals, and am not sure as to whether his comments were intended to be taken seriously.

Extending his viewpoint that provision of food and welfare are sufficient to make us content, then, of course, all of our prison occupants would be keen to complete their sentences in full without remission. I don't think so.

Freedom is what matters to all animals - including ourselves. Be in no doubt that zoo animals are, in fact, in jail with no prospect of release.

Even the term "bred in captivity" does not justify this confinement. These unfortunate animals are then just doing a "whole-life term".

Having spent some years living in east Africa and having been privileged to observe the huge natural gatherings of large mammals, I can assure Mr Spencer that these are the creatures which are experiencing nature as intended, not the creatures in Bellevue confined to a meagre existence (although undoubtedly well fed and correctly cared for).

I would also point out that many zoos do not operate to the high standards required of UK zoos.

I do recognise the valuable work which many zoos conduct in the attempt to retain a small population of the many endangered species, such as the recent safe delivery of a beautiful mountain gorilla in Belfast Zoo. This work is to be commended.

The dilemma is to achieve this in conjunction with the provision of adequate space.

These animals also require to be given the wish to survive in their strange surroundings.

No, Mr Spencer, I am of the opinion that your views do not wash.


Newcastle, Co Down

We won't be duped on academic selection

SO, EDUCATION Minister Peter Weir of the DUP has said he will not "waste time" trying to bring back the "state selection test", or as most people called it, the 11-Plus.

As I recall, the DUP were opposed to state/academic selection for children at the age of 11 and the subsequent secondary/grammar division for children deemed failures, or successes, at 11 years of age.

When did this policy change? Might Mr Weir inform Belfast Telegraph readers on the records of working-class Protestant children, who passed the 11-Plus and went on to receive a grammar school education?

Are Mr Weir and the DUP colleagues he joined to bolster their anti-Belfast Agreement stance and opposition to a power-sharing executive stating that academic selection of primary school children into those who failed and those who passed a test has brought equality of opportunity and prosperity in Northern Ireland?

How many Protestants from working-class backgrounds have attended university in Northern Ireland, Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland, or further afield? What policies will the minister be advancing to address the shamefully abysmal under-representation of working-class Protestants in higher education?

Can we expect more posturing from Mr Weir and his party colleagues, whereby he and they blame the Provos for ending academic/state selection and claiming it is discriminating against Protestants, while once more people are DUPed by a party who claim to be defending the interests and rights of the Protestant people?

It seems to me that the DUP's interests revolve around Ourselves Alone - whether the party is led by Paisley, Robinson, or Foster.

DUPe us once, shame on you; DUPe us twice, shame on us.


Newtownabbey, Co Antrim

Assad victory is the only hope for Aleppo

WHEN there were uprisings in Bahrain and Egypt, they were put down with force, backed by America and its allies. The uprising in Syria could also have been put down, but Barack Obama decreed that Assad had to go.

He had no right to do that, but his action in doing so was a turning-point, boosting the confidence of all rebels, encouraging jihadis to flood into the country and giving the green light to regional powers to send arms into Syria to their proxies.

The insistence that Assad must go has made all negotiation impossible. The best way forward now would be to work towards an Assad victory in Aleppo, which is as bloodless as possible. America could do that by working with Putin and Assad. That could lead the way to peace in Syria.


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