By Jack Williams
These heartbreaking photographs reveal the devastating sadness tied to animals who spend their lives in captivity – as well as the reactions of the humans who observe them.
The shots include a bottle-nosed dolphin being pointed at and surrounded by humans; caged animals being snapped by excitable tourists; and a giraffe with its neck drooped as it peers over the fence keeping it contained.
They were shot by Jo-Anne McArthur, 40, who has visited zoos in more than 25 countries, and on five different continents.
Jo-Anne has focused her journalistic work on the abuse of animals worlwide for more than 15 years, and the images that feature in her book, “Captive,” stem from investigative work in 2008.
Jo-Anne, from Toronto, Canada, said: “Shooting at these types of places, where everyone around is taking the same image, makes the experience of shooting interesting.
“While people are there to take snaps of the beauty of animals, presumably, or perhaps the sheer curiosity of them, as well as to take selfies and family pics, I’m there to document how we see, and fail to see the animals who are right there in front of us.
“So, the zoo shoots, for me, are often about documenting how we behave around animals.”
Included in Captive are 148 unsettling images.
The idea for the book itself – not just the photography subject – stemmed from a 2015 project Jo-Anne accepted on behalf of the Born Free Foundation, which asked her to photograph a cross-section of zoos in Europe for their 2016 EU Zoo Inquiry.
These images helped for the backbone of the book, Jo-Anne added.
Combined with Captive, the photographer launched the 2017 project “A Year of Captivity” – sharing images and stories about captive animals around the world.
Between September 7 and September 10, 2017, “Captive” and “A Year of Captivity” will be exhibited at Toronto’s Harbourfront Center with an official US book launch taking place in New York next month.
Jo-Anne said: “The ethics of captivity is very much being discussed in the mainstream and I wanted to make a contribution to that discussion.
“I’m so pleased with the response thus far.
“The book is doing what it needs to do.
“It’s out there, being discussed.
“I’ve spent a lot of time studying zoos and so I knew the kinds of critiques and criticisms it would provoke.
“I did my best to address a lot of that in the writing of the book.
“And so I hope people read the book as well, not just look at the photographs.”