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Russell Simmons, Zoo Boycott: Music Mogul Compares Animal Attraction to Slavery

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Russell Simmons won’t be bringing his two children to the zoo or circus anytime soon. The man who helped launch Def Jam Records is seeking for a global boycott of the attractions, and compares the treatment of animals there to slavery.

The 54-year-old vegan, who is currently in South Africa speaking to youth about entrepreneurship, shared his visit to an African safari on his website While he posted photos of lions and elephants in their natural habitat in Royal Malewane at the Thornybush Nature reserve, he also denounced the enslavement of animals in zoos and circuses.

“As an animal rights activist I am well aware what a gift it is to see animals in their natural habitat vs. seeing captive animals in zoos, where they are deprived of everything natural to them, often suffering from a condition called ‘zoochosis’ — we have all seen it,” he wrote.

He explained that the animals’ living conditions in such places are far from comfortable. “Zoo animals are enslaved for our entertainment, especially the traveling zoos where animals are usually kept in small concrete cages with near-constant confinement without being allowed to have appropriate social interaction with their families,” said Simmons.

While he understands traveling to Africa to witness animals in the wild is a luxury not everyone can afford, Simmons pressures his supporters to refrain from visiting a zoo until they can. “I realize how expensive this trip is for most people but its better they miss the firsthand experience and watch a nature show on TV, rather than teach kids that slavery of any kind is acceptable,” he stated.

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