All things being equal, I think now I am done with zoos


I think I am finally pretty much done with zoos. Too bad at one level because I love seeing animals. But, at another level I also ‘love’ animals and maybe have finally moved past seeing them as a spectator sport. And it’s not just because of Marius, the ‘slaughtered’ giraffe in the Copenhagen Zoo.

I say slaughtered because that’s what it was. In the name of some genetic concern that seems mighty curious and oblique the poor bugger was put down and then fed to the lions and the public was invited to come and watch while the lions devoured their nums. Yeah, lions eat giraffes. I’m OK with that. It was the motivations of the catering service I find questionable. What were they trying for, a throwback to ancient Rome?

And that’s the real problem with zoos. They leave such decision up to ‘scientists’ rather than real human beings with feelings. “Finished torturing lab animals? Well, we have a zoo position that would be ideal for a guy/gal of your complete lack of sensitivity.

I know I am being egregiously harsh and judgmental here but I can because it’s my blog.

I also eat meat, and love it. I am an unrepentant carnivore. A carnivore who would become vegetarian in a heartbeat if he was called upon to expedite the animals he eats. I had beef last evening. I chose not to think about the ‘cow’ aspect. My valued friend Wendy Starr vouchsafed that same point following a Facebook item yesterday and I cannot argue with her. But, as I said, I don’t kill the animals that I eat and I have already stated that I no longer fish, I put spiders and even wasps outside rather than kill them, the concept of hunting is beyond my comprehension, and so on and so forth. I’m simply very Buddhist about the creatures with whom I share the planet.

So, yeah, the Marius thing is beyond the pale to me. I don’t want to share that same planet with people who harbor such malevolent attitudes.

As for zoos, I get torn. Personally I love seeing certain animals (with a particular fondness for giraffes, I might add). I have been to some of the better zoos in the world, the London Zoological Gardens, San Diego, and even Honolulu has a very decent zoo.

grillerYet the whole thing began to pall on me a few years ago. I was at the San Diego Zoo, which is world-class and quite wonderful. But, I was looking at the gorillas and amongst them was a little family of Mama, Papa, li’l tyke gorilla. And, like all kids the toddler gorilla was being a bit of a – well – monkey. And Mama had to reprimand him on a few occasions. And I simply found them so much like a human family that I wondered if they truly should be in captivity. Yes, I know the Gorillas in the Mist tale and how endangered they are in the wild. Yet, the captivity somehow didn’t seem right.

At Seattle’s quite exceptionally good Woodland Park Zoo I found myself impressed by the hugely extensive African Savannah display with lions, gazelles, and all those other antelopish things. I thought it was great except you could hardly see the animals. They had positioned themselves far away from the gawkers. Hardly blame them.

Now, having written what I have I will find out if in future travels I can refrain from  zoo attendance. But one things for sure, Copenhagen Zoo is definitely off my list.





8 responses to “All things being equal, I think now I am done with zoos

  1. Zoo visits always leave me feeling pretty sad. I’m thrilled initially, fascinated by the foreign creatures but that quickly turns to sorrow when I am confronted with the fact that they are so far from home, perhaps confused, lonely, and so very dependent upon their keepers. 😦

  2. I think we’re pretty much on the same page about zoos, Candace.

  3. What I don’t get is that you have all sorts of animal refuges. If I remember correctly, some elephant was sent to one recently from a zoo. Could Marius not have been sent somewhere like that? So yeah, zoos, not so much.

    On the other hand, lots of zoos do good work preserving species that we’ve been working real hard to kill off.

    I’m torn.

    • In truth I am torn about the matter, too. I was pretty negative when I wrote the blog because I was so pissed, but I do know responsible zoos do good in preserving species.

  4. I was heartbroken by Marius. It was just so…inexplicable, in spite of their attempts to explain. I get the circle of life, I do. But that wasn’t anything like what happens in nature..

  5. I thought my unpredictable hormones were responsible for me being ridiculously upset about Marius but the shock and horror of the whole thing still hasn’t abated and it has made me question zoos. I was quite a defender of them at one time but after my last visit and seeing so many animals displaying clear mental issues in the way they were pacing up and down or simply circling around, I’m really not so sure anymore.

    Over at mine, by the way, I find I have been singing your praises. I think it’s because I nicked one of your posts from way back !!

  6. Yes, we share thoughts on Marius and zoos. And I take your point about mental issues in the animals and the pacing. Now, must check your blog. Haven’t been by in a week or so. Quite happy to have you use my name in vain.

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