Friday, June 3, 2016

At the Zoo

That gorilla death has me thinking about zoos. I think I am changing my mind.  I loved taking my children and then my grandchildren to the zoo.  A perfect way to spend a summer day.  Hippos and giraffes were my favorites.

Thoughts creep in.  Are any enclosures -- no matter how natural --  more than a cage?  Are any live creatures here for our amusement?  Does being entitled to capture or even kill them at will contribute to our disconnect from awareness that we too are on the animal continuum?

No, I'm not going to go all vegan and PETA on you.  My fur coats keep me warm at the bus stop.  But I also remember summer days spent at amusement parks where you could go into a dingy tent to see the "fat lady", the "lizard man", or Siamese twins.

Circus elephants are being retired and people are mad at Sea World.  Am I just catching up to this?


  1. I have always been ambivalent about zoos for all the reasons you so eloquently state. I also know that many zoo managers see their purpose as educational. How else can ordinary people become interested, even passionate about saving animals if they never come into contact with them. Yes, some people are idiots and think it's funny to taunt them or let their kids dangle over the fences separating the animals from us. It's really so difficult to decide that issue. I do love taking my grandchildren to zoos to marvel at the animals' grandeur, just as I loved taking my children. Wherever we went in the world, somehow the zoo was always one of the first places we visited. A good way to learn about the place.

  2. your range of thoughts amazes me. from outer space to politics , movies , animals and everything along the way. you go girl!

  3. I too have always had mixed feelings of enjoyment and discontent regarding zoos. I love watching animals and could spend an entire day just observing them. But the inescapable fact that zoos are just prisons in disguise has eroded my ability to fully enjoy them. I guess that's why I really enjoy television programs of animals being unobtrusively observed in the wild. In the wild, it is natural and normal for an animal to protect its home; in a zoo, they can be killed (however necessary) for reacting to an intruder in their home. When I think of zoos, I can't help but remember the Twilight Zone episode where Roddy McDowell is an astronaut who lands on a planet where he is seemingly provided with a beautiful home to live in. At the end, he realizes that he is just a zoo attraction.