The pros and cons of wildlife in some form of captivity remains a difficult debate. While most people would likely condemn this type of behavior as it takes an animal out of their natural environment, it is never so simple. Many animals have been taken out of their natural environment for a reason; whether it is injury, illness, or social problems. Whatever the reason, there are many wildlife sanctuaries that aim to put all animals back in their natural habitat when they are ready.
These sanctuaries are often funded by tourism. Visitors will travel to extreme lengths and pay a high price to see some of the rarest animals in the world. If they know the money is going towards the preservation of the animals, then all the better. While there are of course many places out there that mistreat and take advantage of exotic animals, others are doing it the right way.
The mountain gorilla has become a popular attraction in the countries of Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda. These gorillas are part of attempted sustainable ecotourism in the region. They attract many visitors year-round and bring considerable money to the region. The majority of the money raised is used to protect the future of the species and raise awareness of their issues for survival.
While it sounds like tourism is a good thing in this area, it now appears that there are adverse side effects that most people did not consider. The human visitors are making the gorillas sick. In one case, 11 out of 12 gorillas in a pack in Rwanda had a respiratory infection caused by humans. Two gorillas who were not treated in time died. As the gorillas had never experienced a disease like it, it only took a matter of days from the first signs of coughing to reach death.
This issue highlights the reality of these projects. While the intentions may be good, more often than not, there are issues that can not be foreseen. Animals belong in their natural habitat and everything should be done to return them to it.