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Zoos: The lives of animals in captivity

Animal Equality carried out a nine-month undercover investigation into the most iconic zoos in Spain. Investigators found extreme confinement and abuse at the hands of workers.
a sad monkey looking through the bars of a cage a brown baboon looking directly at the camera

Animal Equality carried out a nine-month undercover investigation into the most iconic zoos in Spain, uncovering physical and psychological abuse on a massive scale. 

Photos, videos, and expert reports revealed an industry that is anything but “educational.” 

Investigators observed animals living among their own feces in a state of constant anxiety. Many were taken from their families and transported to other zoos, while others were killed when their group size exceeded the space allotted to them. The survivors were often hit and abused by zoo employees. 

Social animals were forced into solitary confinement, while animals who usually live alone were forced into close contact with others. Some animals were even confined next to their predators, and constant conflict among confined animals was common.  

In their unnatural environments, animals often resorted to self-mutilation and other bizarre behaviors. 

One Animal Equality investigator even documented the last days of “Chata,” a baby lioness who fell ill at Seville Zoo and died without receiving any veterinary care. Disturbing footage shows Chata chained around the neck and struggling to free herself, with one vet attributing her ongoing illness to simply not wanting to live.

To make matters worse, many animals became ill and hungry or endured extreme temperatures. Dolphins and sea lions performed demeaning and embarrassing performances, becoming distressed by screaming visitors. Hordes of people peered into animals’ cages, their camera flashes worsening the unrest. 

The questionable ‘educational’ message of zoos presents a moral dilemma for parents and children. They teach the most impressionable humans that animals exist only for our pleasure. To instill values in our children – such as respect for others – we can begin by refusing to support industries that cage animals for life.

How you can help confined animals

But animals in zoos are not the only ones subjected to extreme confinement, abuse, and psychological anguish. In our own backyards, billions are suffering behind closed doors. 

Around the world, cows, pigs, and chickens are held in unsanitary factory farms and slaughterhouses, where they suffer from diseases, physical abuse, and shockingly legal methods of slaughter

Spain Pig Farm


Help fund Animal Equality’s work to expose and end animal cruelty. Protect cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals today!

From the mother pig—who is held in a cage too small for her to turn around in—to the baby cow separated from his mother and left to starve, animals suffer for food every day. Companies that market their products as “humane” destroy the bond between mothers and babies.

The good news is that organizations like Animal Equality are sharing the truth about factory farming with animal lovers around the globe. We’ve even launched a petition to end factory farming in the U.S. for good:

Millions are replacing meat, dairy, and eggs with delicious, diverse, and high-quality plant-based products. Thanks to the Love Veg movement, thousands are trying new free plant-based recipes and a library of tips for beginners. 

Whether in zoos or factory farms, caged and abused animals need our help today. Will you lend them your voice as we fight for a kinder world together?

Rescued hen held by Animal Equality volunteer


With rich emotional lives and unbreakable family bonds, farmed animals deserve to be protected.

You can build a kinder world by replacing animal food products with plant‑based ones.

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