“All zoos, even the most enlightened, are built upon the idea both beguiling and repellent—the notion that we can seek out the wildness of the world and behold its beauty, but that we must first contain that wildness. Zoos argue that they are fighting for the conservation of the Earth, that they educate the public and provide refuge and support for vanishing species. And they are right. Animal-rights groups argue that zoos traffic in living creatures, exploiting them for financial gain and amusement. And they are right. Caught inside this contradiction are the animals themselves, and the humans charged with their well-being.”
― Thomas French,
Never been a big fan of zoos. Used to take my own growing up children to the Philadelphia Zoo. That was many years ago and I recall a grim place of gray dungeons, bad smells, and too many people with children needing naps. I trust there have been huge changes there since my long ago visits.
My recent visit to the San Diego Zoo in the US was quite the surprise. So clean, laid out to provide the animals more realistic habitats, didn’t smell bad at all, and there were many places for weary children and parents to take a shaded pause. A visit to the Denver Zoo in Colorado USA with the Grand Children is a perfect day for. They love that Zoo so much they are Members. There are volunteers and staff positioned strategically with a wealth of knowledge, enthusiasm for teaching, and patience. The Grands will bring up details they have learned days after a zoo visit, and their interest has spilled over into a keen interest in the animals natural habitats and preservation of those habitats.
Since the 40 Amur Leopards, 60 Javan Rhinoceros, 80 Panthers, 100 Red Wolfs, 350 Asiatic Lions that are left on the planet are part of a very long list of endangered species, it is important to get our children passionate about protecting their planet and the fellow species on it. The Grands demonstrate to me a zoo can play a role in doing just that. I wonder about the bigger picture, of there being habitat available for these creatures to roam free, of our right as humans to destroy those habitats, or even to cage creatures. Still, it was just a perfect day at the San Diego Zoo. and I actually eagerly anticipate the next time we share the Denver Zoo with the Grands.