Observations from a day at the zoo
So we went to Calgary zoo today and I'm torn between zoo's being great for conservation vs using animals to make money. I think on the whole they are a good thing but it's sad to see some of the animals caged up - somehow I always end up staring into the eyes of a gorilla and it makes me sad.
But that isn't what struck me ... it's these things:
Hey, I remember what it's like taking small kids to the zoo - it seems like you walk for miles and it can be too far for them so I get that it's good to have something for them to sit in now and again and to bring the picnic or what-not.
But man, many of the kids you see are not 2 or 3, they look like they are 9 or 10. And c'mon ... make your kid WALK a little at least occasionally - it will do them good.
Heck, have them walk from the waggon to the glass to see the animal ... don't get in the god-damn way of everyone else with the damn thing. The zoo wasn't packed by any means but you couldn't walk 5 paces without having to dodge someone veering across the path with one of these things.
What do you think? Am I being too picky? I forsee a future of even more obese children who have grown up being pulled around their entire lives ...
Sometimes a little discomfort is kinder to children in the long-term.
Concerning the kids and the wagon thing, I agree; I don't think you're being too picky.
I also agree with your observations about the zoo. If all the animals had plently of appropriate space, were fed good food, had plenty of physical and mental stimulation, had appropriate social environment, were treated well, etc., I'd actually rather see them in a zoo because nature can be brutal and cruel. Many animals die horrible deaths and suffer extremely in nature.
somehow I always end up staring into the eyes of a gorilla and it makes me sad.
I can't believe you said that; I just recently had that same experience in the U.S. I could see a person, a feeling being, behind those eyes. The gorilla didn't look happy; looked kind of dejected. Like you, I was made sad.
Zoos don't make that much money from just entry fees. The wagons and expensive food stalls help fund them, along with the overprice souveniers. You are right though, unless a kid is disabled they should be walking and getting a little exercise. Do the places that encourage those annoying things have to pay extra liability insurance in case some unsuspecting person trips over them?
I was at the Calgary Zoo in 1999. They had really beautiful flowers and a big cat that had worn a dirt path pacing back and forth in front of his cage, he wanted out. It was sad. It is even more sad to think that someone would've been happy to shoot him to make a fur coat or a rug in front of the fireplace, so he was better off pacing, even if he didn't think so.
Zoos have gotten better in the US recently. In Philadelphia the zoo is very old and there isn't room to expand out-so they've expanded up. The animals have overhead walkways where they can move around above the humans. The new cat pens open onto each other where the cats are rotated into much larger areas. The whole thing makes for a unique experience, the cats seem happier with more room to explore.
San Diego has elephants. They don't have many elephants in northern zoos anymore, because they don't tolerate winter well, even when kept inside. It was a pleasure to see those huge beasts, especially now that the Chinese are fueling the mass elephant slaughters, due to their desire for ivory. Ivory looks so much better when worn by the elephants.
I don't think healthy good animals should be taken from the wild. Injured would be okay, if they couldn't live on their own. Or if they are facing extinction, no natural habitat left/safe, but in this case they should be breed and protected areas for them to repopulate. I too feel said for animals that naturally live in big wide open spaces confirned to small quarters. I don't think I've ever seen happy tigers/lions at a zoo.
On the other hand, when they are free....
I agree with these grown kids in strollers, I see it everyday. The kid looks like they're 7 or 8 years old in a stroller, makes you think what the heck happened to parenting skills. . . .and don't get me started on the stroller for twins, or the double wide as I call it. They used to make the twin stroller where one was behind the other, why do they now have to be side by side?
To be clear, zoos make me sad but I think zoos are on the whole a good thing and make kids appreciate nature more. What's really sad is that many animals rely on them to avoid extinction and even then it's a losing battle.
I'd rather see animals free in the wild than in zoos but also rather in zoos than wiped out.
When I'm staring at the gorilla I'm hoping they understand that I'm sorry they have to be there.
It's good seeing animals happy with lots of space - zoos definitely seem to be improving.
I feel the same way as you about zoos Simon. I remember seeing the gorillas and wondering what they were thinking. I saw a male gorillas take a young one by the arm, look him over, then sending him on his way with a little spank. Although he acted tough you could see he had affection for the young one, like any proud parent. I also loved the giraffes, the zoo I went to had a platform where you were at eye level with them, you could even feed them. Their eyes were so pretty, they seemed so gentle.
I agree about the strollers. I think some parents have a sense of entitlement, like the world should revolve around their little darlings. Some women would bring strollers (even those ridiculous double ones) into the bathroom, even though it was way too crowded, like carrying the child a few feet was too much of an imposition for them.
A rocket piloted by two astronauts heads out on a mission to Mars. One of them, Marcusson, is a positive thinker who believes that people are alike all over, even on the Red Planet. The other astronaut, Conrad, has a more cynical view of human interplanetary nature. The impact of landing on Mars is so severe that Marcusson dies.
Now alone, Conrad is consumed by fear when he hears a rhythmic sound reverberating upon the ship's hull. Expecting some unnameable evil, his apprehension turns to joy when he opens the hatch and sees Martians that indeed appear human, have mind-reading abilities and give the impression of being most amicable, especially the beautiful Teenya, who welcomes and reassures him. The hospitable locals lead their honored guest to his residence—an interior living space furnished in the same manner as one on Earth would have been.
Conrad briefly relaxes, but soon discovers that his room is windowless and the doors cannot be opened. One of the walls slides upward, and Conrad realizes that he has become a caged exhibit in a Martian zoo. Conrad picks up a sign that says "Earth Creature in his native habitat" and throws it on the floor. In the episode's closing lines, Conrad grips the bars and yells to the heavens "Marcusson! Marcusson, you were right! You were right. People are alike.... people are alike everywhere!"
(Twilight Zone: Roddy McDowall)
Those healthy older kids definitely need to walk. I am torn on zoos. I am okay with domesticated animals in captivity and I do believe we have learned enough that we can be kind to them. But . Most animals would be better off in the wild, even if that meant shorter lifespans and dangerous conditions. At the same time, those of us in cities (especially U.S. and European cities) and other well-established HUMAN dwelling places, who think that poor African and Asian countries should foot the bill to keep a huge natural habitat thriving need to ask themselves how they are helping with that from their environment that did not do the same. I am definitely against places like Sea World where even a million gallons isn't a big enough place for such magnificent animals. I tend toward similar feelings for apes in a zoo. And while I don't object to dog or pony acts in a circus, just about all the other animal acts should be banned and focus can now be on humans entertaining humans without the elephant standing on hind legs or c the large cats defying a whip.
Down here in the south our zoos provide the name of the animal AND a recipe. That's always helpful.