People and Zoos

Some ugly truths

I love animals. I absolutley love them. That's why zoos absolutely tear me apart. I love to go and observe all the fabulous, majestic animals. And I hate to see all the fabulous, majestic animals living in such abject misery. That's right...misery.

Now, I'm not one of these people who says that all zoos should be banned and all the animals set free. No. I freely acknowledge and appreciate the fact that zoos serve a positive funtion in our world. There are some species that have been kept from going extinct solely by the work of zoos. And zoos provide every day people with the opportunity to behold the beauty of animal life they'd never come into contact with otherwise. But zoos are not happy places...not at all.

Despite what most people seem to think, being locked in a cage or enclosure for her entire is not healthy for an animal. Many animals become psychotic. That is why abberant behaviors, such as the eating of feces and pacing, develope. Some animals simply go insane from boredom, like big cats who have a natural desire to roam and hunt a wide territory, but are cooped up in tiny cages. For some animals, it's even worse, though. In many species of primates (apes and monkeys), direct eye contact is an ominous threat. So these animals, like Gorillas, Chimps, and many monkeys, are not only cooped up and held captive their whole lives, but they're also subjected to the human equivalent of having someone stand outside and say "I'm gonna kill you! I'm gonna kick your fucking ass! You're dead meat. I'm gonna kill you!" The effect on the animals is quite similar to the effect on humans in prison.

Another unfortunate aspect of zoos is people. The way many people behave at zoos makes me ashaimed of my species. At the primate house, it's often hard to tell who the "civilized" primates are, the ones on the inside or the ones on the outside. People will jump up and down, scratch themselves, hoot, hollar, and yell at the "monkeys". Not much could make me angrier than seeing people diliberately antagonizing a zoo animal. And then there are the people who think the animals are there to entertain them; they angrily bang on the glass and yell "wake up, animal!" or "DO something!", indignant that the animals don't jump to attention when they walk up. Not quite as insidious, but still very annoying, are the parents who dumb-down the zoo for their kids or outright misinform them. Like the mother who sees the polar bear pacing and tells her son, "Oh look! He's dancing."

I have two suggestions. 1) Everyone entering a zoo must pass a zoo animal sensitivity course, during which they would be put in a cage surrounded by pushy, maladjusted people who would jeer and berate them for five minutes. Then they would be allowed out into the zoo. 2) Anyone cought mistreating an animal would be stripped and thrown into the psychotic polar bear pit (or tiger, lion, panther, timberwolf, etc).

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