NO ZOO WOULD TAKE THESE ANIMALS SEE WHY?

Every animal’s needs are different

People go to zoos and aquariums to get up close to species that we would never encounter otherwise. Education and conservation is part of the mission of modern zoos, says David Mizejewski, a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation. But there are some animals you’ll probably never see there. “Certain animals you just can’t provide for,” Mizejewski says. “Then there are just some animals that, for whatever reason, don’t thrive under human care.” Here are some of them:

Large Great white shark

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Great white shark

Aquariums have tried to keep great white sharks in captivity—with little success. In 2016, a great white shark died after three days in a Japanese aquarium, NPR reported. The shark refused to eat. Great white sharks also like to roam. “We can’t replicate their habitat in a way that they would be able to survive in captivity,” Mizejewski says. Find out more about why great white sharks don’t survive in captivity.

A Vu Quang Ox grazing on foliage.

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Saola

Found only in the Annamite Mountains of Vietnam and Laos, the saola (SOW-la) was only discovered in 1992, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Known as the Asian unicorn, the saola is critically endangered and has rarely been seen.

Barn swallows fly, blue sky background

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Swallow

Unlike some other species on this list, swallows are common. But that still doesn’t mean they’re suited for zoos. “Swallows are so focused on flying,” Mizejewski says. “They’re delicate and they don’t thrive in captivity.” You can definitely see some fascinating animals at the best zoo in every state.

A female mountain gorilla with a baby. Uganda. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.

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Mountain gorilla

Many attempts were made during the 1960s and 1970s to capture endangered mountain gorillas and breed them, according to the International Gorilla Conservation Programme. It’s not clear why mountain gorillas don’t survive in captivity, while lowland gorillas have. “Perhaps their dietary needs are more specific, or they were affected by stress and therefore succumbed to disease more rapidly,” the IGCP notes.

Red squid with big eyes in darkness

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Giant squid

The largest giant squid scientists have found weighed almost a ton. And you won’t see one anytime soon. “Because the ocean is vast and giant squid live deep underwater, they remain elusive and are rarely seen,” the Smithsonian reports. “Most of what we know comes from dead carcasses that floated to the surface and were found by fishermen.” For some better news, read about these endangered baby animals that are making a comeback.

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Narwhal

Known as the unicorns of the sea for their long, narrow tusks, narwhals are elusive. They’re skittish and hunt deep in the water. “Unlike other whales, narwhals—which can live more than 100 years—die shortly in captivity, greatly reducing the opportunity to study them,” according to the Smithsonian. “We’ve only had a glimpse of the beast,” Canadian narwhal specialist Pierre Richard told the magazine.

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