Mr Chambers' letter is full of statements that he hasn't supported with any proofs, the most egregious being, "World-class aquariums and the like help establish important bonds between animals and humans [and] appreciation for the intelligence, beauty, and majesty of these creatures." If this were true, why then, in the 3500 history of locking up animals to be "looked at" hasn't the world's treatment of animals improved more?
The History website (http://library.thinkquest.org/3378/History.html ) says: "About 1500 BC was when Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt decided to build a zoo, and about 500 years later around the year 1000 BC, the Chinese emperor Wen Wang founded the Garden of Intelligence. This was an enormous zoo that covered about 1,500 acres (607 hectares). Many small zoos were established between 1,000 and 400 BC by rulers from Northern Africa, India, and China to show power and display wealth. To study animal and plant life, the ancient Greeks established public zoos. As part of their education, Greek students would visit the zoos. Near the end of the 1,400's, global exploration brought Europeans to the New World. When explorers brought strange creatures back with them, it renewed the European's interest in animals and zoos."
Does Mr Chambers believe that the Chinese, Asians, and Europeans learned from their long history of zoos to appreciate the intelligence, beauty, and majesty of these creatures? The concepts of animal rights and humane animal welfare began relatively recently (in the 19th century) in European countries in conjunction with the growth of the concept of immutable human rights. Victorian English governments and businessmen built zoos and imported animals from all over the British Empire. Mindless British families gawking at displays of animals for 150 years only encouraged the growth of the zoo industry.
Perhaps Mr Chambers is unaware of fur farms, factory farming, and research labs, to name just a few of the ways that humans torture animals for humans' benefit. The benefit extracts a terrible price of both animals and humans: the animals lead unnatural lives in zoos, and lives of torture and pain in the food, clothing, fashion and testing industries, and the human spirit is brutalized by accepting the infliction of pain and suffering on helpless creatures.
It was the few who say that zoos are inhumane (and are vilified by defenders of the zoo industry such as Mr Chambers), who are making any improvements to the way animals are kept imprisoned. If or when humans finally stop putting animals on display for our profit and amusement, it is the Ashley Frunos of this world who will have prevailed over the defenders of cruelty and brutality.