Musical animals, musical semen
Zoos commonly move animals around as if they're objects like couches, who don't really care where they live. For example, elephants and other animals are used as breeding machines so when they're needed to make more of themselves they're shipped around to where they then are expected to perform. I call this process "musical animals," while my colleague Zoocheck Canada's Julie Woodyer told me at the meeting she aptly calls it "musical semen." Many people agree that we really don't need any more captive animals who will live out their lives in captivity, and the discussion about this practice was very valuable in that it was clear that the shuffling around of individuals from one breeding mill to another needs to be considered from the animals' point of view. Many people also agreed it should be stopped.
Along these lines, there was good discussion of the practice of "zoothanasia," the premeditated and intentional killing of otherwise healthy animals who don't fit into a zoo's breeding program. I coined the term "zoothanasia" to refer to these unnecessary killings because killing these animals is not euthanasia or what some zoo administrators like to call "management euthanasia." It is not mercy killing, as zoo administrators claim it is. The most recent and well-known case of zoothanasia involved a young giraffe, Marius, who was publicly killed at the Copenhagen zoo because he couldn't be used to make more giraffes (please see this essay and links therein). When animals are brought to a zoo, often it is not known if they will fit in, and if they don't, or if they can't be used in a breeding program, it is likely they will be housed alone, shipped somewhere else, or killed. When some zoo administrators are asked if this is possible with elephants, they are unsure. Let me be clear that this does not mean that many of them enjoy shipping animals here and there or killing them, but rather, they say it's the reality of a zoo's mission. So, it seems clear that changing the mission of zoos needs to be undertaken. However, some zoo administrators think it's just fine to kill animals who they can't use for breeding, even if they're otherwise healthy or if other zoos offer to house them.