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Saturday, May 21, 2011

San Diego Zoo....Mixed Emotions

Yesterday, I visited the San Diego Zoo for the first time since 1968.  Wow.  That's been a while.  I was on a longer layover with my hubby and a good friend so we decided to really make a day of it.  Did you know that Diet Cokes actually cost $5 at the Zoo?  I thought it was for a six-pack, not a single drink.  Silly me.  But in spite of having a great sun-filled day, I left with mixed emotions.  I know that being the animal activist that I've migrate toward in my old age, I should not have paid the money to visit this zoo nor any other one.  I know that placing animals in captivity should not be supported.  I know that paying giant amounts of money for t-shirts and sodas at the zoo is just plain old not right. 

The zoo had a sign with a picture of each animals on the front of each exhibit (or listen to me...calling it an "exhibit" when it was nothing more than a cage for confinement....).  The little signs were all the same.  And they each rated the animals on whether they were endangered or not.  Many were.  In addition, I noticed heavy advertising, signs, pictures and public relations crap that were intended to tease me into thinking that the Zoo is a "green" place for animals -- that they are doing everything possible to make sure that the animals are well taken care of, tended to, needs dealt with, etc.  But, as with all of these sorts of things, I immediately questioned the Zoo's intentions.  I think that any business who is going out of their way to advertise to me what a good, green, earth-friendly, animal-caring place they are probably isn't such a place at all. 

I stood in front of the elephant exhibit watching two elephants swaying back and forth.  Each of these two were by themselves -- not with each other nor with the rest of the heard.  And swaying.  Back and forth.  Left and right, right and left....for as long as we were there.  And I said to my Zoo partners that I'll bet that the swaying is a byproduct of them being in captivity.  Yes sir, it is.  Check it out.  In addition, I didn't see a whole lot of animal caretakers around.  I did see a few.  Very few.  For the most part, "people" were absent from the scene -- unless it was to sell expensive food, treats, t-shirts, kettle corn and the like. 

Probably the highlight of the day was at the Hippopotamus pool.  Momma and 15-day-old baby!  Amazing...and right straight in front of us on the opposite side of the glass.  Apparently, they are not natural-born swimmers because momma was teaching the baby how to swim....herding the baby around the pool and nosing it up to the surface for air.  Something like this......it was really, really something else.

I know that in many cases, the animals are actually more well off in the zoo than in their natural habitat due to poaching and other unnatural happenings.  But in spite of it all, I've been thinking a lot about the fabrication of real life at the zoo.  It left me a little bittersweet.  For the lack of natural, free-roaming territory to enjoy. The captivity issue.  The children running and yelling and creating stressful situations for the animals -- there were actually signs on many of the cages warning us to not yell or not harass the animals....that it stresses them and makes them nervous.  I just felt sorry for them.  There's got to be a better way to educate our children, our world, than peddling expensive novelty items in gift shops and charging $5 for ice cream and locking up animals in cages.  It didn't feel natural at all. 


wcs said...

I feel that way about aquariums. Swimming in circles all day long...

I haven't been to the SDZoo, but I did go to the wild animal park once. That was pretty cool, animals roaming around in a large open space. I wonder if they're better off that way or if it's also an illusion?

Ryan said...

very good post bro and i totally agree with you 100% but you know that. least these animals are treated better than the ones in the circus. either way its wrong and sad.

Ron said...

A couple of months ago I visited the Baltimore Aquarium for the first time. It is indeed everything they said it was and I was duly impressed, especially with the penquins who seemed to be having a grand time. However, what I didn't expect were the screaming kids running to and fro. Thank goodness more of the animals were either underwater or behind glass so they couldn't hear the sound of 'civilization.' I could though and I was stressed. I won't go back.

Ur-spo said...

I too have mixed feelings about zoos. But most seem to be more 'PC" at getting the animals more than a cage. And it does raise consciousness of people to see animals, a good thing. So I will say yes over no, in the final vote.

CJ/Rick said...

I catch myself swaying back and forth due to the monotony of day to day living.
I recently went to an Astros game after being inviting for the umpteenth time. The family of four sitting in front of us ordered drinks, two hot dogs, bags of peanuts, and cups of french fries, and I wanted to stand up when I heard the server say $67.
They've got us all by the balls in capitvity.

cb said...

I, too, am very mixed about zoos. I don't know how I feel about an animal being protected from man by being put in jail.