Russell Simmons is urging people to avoid zoos and support the conservation of animals in their natural habitats and on reserves.
The 54-year-old business magnate recently went on a safari in Africa and witnessed first-hand the glory of animals in their natural environment.
“As an animal rights activist I am well aware what a gift it is to see animals in their natural habitat vs. seeing captive animals in zoos where they are deprived of everything natural to them, often suffering from a condition called “zoochosis”- you know, we have all seen it,” he writes on his website. “That’s where the animal rocks back and forth endlessly trying to cope with their boredom, loneliness and the fact that most of these prisons don’t offer enough space, proper climate control, places to hide and find shelter, etc.”
Simmons goes on to decry the “enslavement of animals for entertainment;” holding particular scorn for those travelling zoos that keep animals in small cages and withhold social interaction with their families.
“These magnificent animals I encountered on the safari aren’t riding on bicycles or jumping through rings of fire like kids see them do at the horribly cruel circuses where they are routinely beaten and neglected,” he writes. “These great beasts were tending to their young, running free and just being left alone to live their lives. This is, in my opinion, the only way kids should see them. If they can’t see them this way then seeing them in slavery should not be an option.”
Simmons, a long-time vegan and activist, concludes by saying that it’s better for children to see these animals on nature shows than teach them “that slavery of any kind is acceptable.”
Last month, Simmons joined the outcry against Lady Gaga and her continued use of fur by urging her to set aside her differences with PETA and instead focus on compassion.
“I am PETA’s Person of The Year and I support them, but this isn’t about PETA or their tactics,” he wrote in a letter to the pop star. “Don’t allow your feelings about them to govern how you feel about animals. Those feelings should come as a result of your heart meditation. Please continue to use your immense talent as an instrument of love, peace and compassion.”