Sunday, 22 January 2017

Thinking about the zoo - a day at Whipsnade

 On the one hand, zoos do valuable research/conservation work and educate us. On the other hand, the animals are enclosed in a small unnatural environment and lack stimulation. 

I think it's a bit of a grey area. One of my happiest childhood memories is the day my mum had a job for the day in Bristol, near the zoo. My dad dropped her off at work and then we went to the zoo ALL DAY. We were the first people in and the last people out. And my dad bought me a badge with a tiger on it. 

I also repeatedly read the Willard Price Adventure books as a child, which were about two brothers who captured animals for zoos and all the adventures they had in different countries. They are pretty dated but exciting and likeable. That was some strong pro-zoo propaganda. They captured animals with love! And sold them to zoos to protect them from poachers! Yeah!

Animals probably wouldn't need protecting if it weren't for humans. We voraciously consume, taking habitats and food, killing, eating. It is how it is. It appears that as a species, we impulsively take without consideration.

A harsh view? Perhaps, but there is truth there. I also think we have great capacity to learn and to think and to change. Change can be slow but can come.

Despite everything lately, I believe the future can be better, that we can achieve peace and prosperity and harmony with nature as a species. One day it could be possible. Even if it's many lifetimes away. I need to believe it because without hope for a better world, why would we try to make it? 

Zoos are flawed. And I've seen some very bored and unhappy looking animals before. But also animals that seem fine. I don't know.

In an ideal world, animals would be safe in their own habitats and people would all be able to travel to see them there should they wish. But this isn't that ideal world. I think a decent zoo, which works for conservation, is the best option for the moment. A zoo is certainly an amazing experience, seeing and learning about so many creatures. I always discover something new.

Whipsnade Zoo yesterday was beautiful (and freezing cold). Huge spaces compared to London Zoo and we were so close to incredible animals that looked well (to me). Rolling countryside, a good walk and baby animals! My highlights were baby giraffe, baby elephant and sunset penguins.


What do you think of zoos?

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