May 24, 2005


Today's experience reminded me exactly why I abhor the zoo, even though I didn't necessarily need any reminding. As with many things on an isolated island, our zoo is small, and the admission is free. Ironically, the zoo is accessed using the same road that leads to Kulani Prison approximately twenty miles away. I had never visited this zoo before, and it took a mandatory physical anthropology excursion to finally get me to go.

First of all, the zoo was littered with hundreds of kids, all participants in various elementary school field trips. Many of them were hooting and hollering and screaming like juvenile primates, and generally showing less maturity and civilised behaviour than your average monkey. After about 45 minutes of dealing with swarms of these annoying clods, my temper was raised and I was ready to extend my claws and shred me some fresh meat. The multiple comments on the "great weather" only further vexed me, for I was already glistening with sweat; partly from the hot sun and lack of breeze, and partly from the effort it required to contain my instinctual urge to introduce the surrounding occupants to an uncaged wolf. Fortunately, the zoo has no wolves locked up, but it does have a gorgeous white tiger whom I almost felt ashamed to be looking at. It was difficult to look at any of the animals on exhibition, not only because it goes entirely against my set of personal morals and was entirely unnatural, but because their miniature habitats were clearly unsatisfactory. Let's apply a little logic. Arboreal monkeys dwell primarily in trees. Very few of the aboreal monkeys had trees in their cages, let alone any foliage at all. None of the primates save for the lemurs had any places to retreat to for privacy, either. It's abysmal. I learned that several of the enclosures were illegal according to the zoological society. No animal behaviouralist experts work for the zoo, so most of its caretakers are buffoons when it comes to knowing what's best for the animals. I would find it hard to believe that this zoo isn't a primary target of animals right organisations. Several animals introduced to the zoo have died months later due to poor decisionmaking regarding how the animals should be treated and what living conditions should be provided for them.

I would rather take a tour of the Kulani Prison and observe a bunch of ruffians behind bars. Most of them did something to warrant being thrown in prison; animals were simply being themselves. Most of them are guilty of some crime; animals are innocent. If animals are to be contained for any reason, they at least deserve a close, habitable simulation of their natural environment, appropriate feeding measures, and proper care by one or more experts. They also should have the right to privacy. If a primate or any other creature wishes to hide somewhere so they aren't gawked at by rude, insensitive humans all day long, they should have a place to do so. If they naturally like to play in the water, they should have some water. If their natural tendency is to hop from tree to tree, give them trees. Of course, if it were up to me, zoos would not exist, and neither would circuses that use animals for the entertainment of people. It's a disgusting tradition.

I usually get very emotional when it comes to animals, because... well, they are one of the few things in life really worth getting emotional over. I'd feel more comfortable crying at a zoo than at a funeral for some relative I barely knew.

To end on a positive note... lemurs are precious. And their name is latin for "nocturnal spirits." Unfortunately, almost half of lemur species are endang-- . . . I said I was going to end this on a positive note. **Runs off playing his fiddle on a positive note**

1 comment:

Lithium said...

I completely agree with you about Zoo's and their often lack of adequate habitatual care. I never visit zoos anymore because I dislike the idea of animals being confined to spaces merely for the pleasure of our pathetic minds.

I haven't seen the zoo that you mentioned but the conditions sound absolutely horrible; it sounds as though it would be more than enough to force me to complain to some sort of authority. Animals deserve better and I'm highly protective over their welfare and general living.