I went to the zoo in Melbourne this week, it goes against every grain of my being, I believe the zoo is a sign of our inhumanity – animals hunted or brought to the brink of extinction for tusks, skins, fur and palm oil – given sanctuary in glass cages and concrete tombs. We champion our conservation skills rather than focus our attention on the destruction of their habitats and the desire of people to hunt for sport.
It was only my second visit to a zoo in about 20 years, the last coming 6 years ago with my two nephews, as I wanted them to see some of the majestic creatures that inhabit this world before we make them extinct. I feel a little conflicted by it as I appreciate the work and the ethics of the staff that work in zoos but I cannot fathom why we are not more angry that these spectacular animals are kept in such cramped conditions because of our actions and inability to coexist with them. There are also those people who claim that it provides valuable information by studying them in captivity but that is like saying an alien race can gain valuable information studying humans by sticking them in a broom cupboard with artificial light.
Watching bears and tigers pace up and down, wolves that chase down buffalo for over a mile being fed pedigree chum (not literally) leaves me with a deep sadness as men, women and children rattle their keys, chains and scream – banging on windows to gather their attention. I think I could stomach it more if zoos were designed with the animals in mind and not us, the consumer. We have larger areas to sit and eat than an elephant. Minimising the area and aesthetics for humans would maximise the space for animals, the addition of sound proofed glass tunnels would be a good move too, in trying to alleviate the sensory overload these animals must face daily.
So what was my point after all of this? I guess that we should be trying foster a world where we don’t drive species to extinction through land management practices, manufacturing and hunting, thus making the need for zoos either obsolete or, at the very least, significantly reduced. Until then I shall work on building my own army of the twelve monkeys.