Daily Gratitudes

Gratitudes: For another great swim class with my three water babies, for Starbucks pumpkin lattes, for red velvet cupcakes and for spur of the moment trips to the zoo.

I always struggle with zoos because I’m generally against the confinement of animals, particularly when they’re in enclosures that are not well suited to them (i.e., too small, poorly maintained). I much prefer the idea of a preserve where animals are free to roam and you can see them in their natural habitat.  I also think that the public should not require the physical presence of the animal in order to care about their plight. Nor do I think that animal confinement in zoos is the best method to “preserve” endangered species. And of course, it goes without saying that I’m categorically against objectifying animals for our amusement. So then, why did I go?

Well, part of me feels guilty for going. Particularly after visiting the gorilla exhibit. There is an indoor exhibit that leads to a grassy hillside and extends beyond what the eye can see. One could argue that it’s a pretty good habitat considering the gorillas are confined. However, the indoor section, short of the ropes and tires, could have easily passed for a jail cell. And let’s not talk about the expression on the gorilla’s face. I’m sure I would have had the same look if I was locked behind a glass wall with strange people staring at me. So that part of me feels very much like a hypocrite. Why am I endorsing a place that locks up animals??

The other part of me, the part of me that sees how happy my son is to be within feet of an elephant, attempts to justify that perhaps the zoo is protecting these particular animals from slaughter or torture or whatever other bad things happen to elephants when they are captured or killed by poachers… which in a sense is true, however it goes back to the question, are they not better off in the wild? Or in environment where if they must be protected by humans that these humans would interfere minimally in their lives?

I don’t know. We definitely all enjoyed ourselves, and enjoyed seeing the animals, but I’m still on the fence on this one. I can’t say that I whole-heartedly support zoos… The jury’s still out. What do you think?

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