A Zoo is a place where many wonderful animals, reptiles and birds are caught and caged for life. Period.
Just by giving it fancy sounding tag-lines like, ‘Animal research center’, ‘Animal conservation center’, etc. we cannot change the basic premise and the reason behind having zoos. Which is – basal human entertainment and sadism.
What fun do human beings get by going and watching caged animals and birds, is something I am not able to fathom. Every major city has a zoo – Such is the public demand! One zoo here gets so much crowd that beaches, historical monuments, etc. wear a haunted look, in comparison.
If probed further, many people will reply, ‘I care about the wildlife – What a better way to show my support?’. So, you are a naturalist? You are supporting an institution that catches animals from the rightful place they belong to and puts them in a cage (which in itself is life-long torture), prevents them from fetching their own food (imagine the plight of the young animals born there – will they ever be able to hunt/gather food if left in the wild?), mistreats/badly feeds animals and is focused on maximizing tourist revenue?
There are others who want to indulge in nature photography. Where? In a zoo! They put their camera in between bars/cages and try to take authentic ‘natural’ photos of animals. Nothing could be more challenging, right? In fact, you’re perfectly qualified to teach this technique to all those people who roam in the wild for days to get one photo. They will be out of words to thank you for saving so much of their time.
Another popular reason to go to a zoo is, ‘Our kids need to see wildlife and become familiar with it. It is educational’. Tell me you cannot afford a TV and you don’t get subscriptions to NGC or Discovery channels at your place. Have you even seen those wonderful/thoughtful documentaries produced by these channels? What more wildlife exposure would kids want?
Just think for a second how you will feel if you are caged like that and all animals come visit you and mock/laugh at you? How can visiting a zoo be anything else but sheer sadism – The pleasure of watching animals caged by ‘superior’ human beings, the pleasure of knowing that they can render every other creature helpless?
There are some zoos that offer ‘safari’ experience. I know one that keeps lions caged and at a certain time, releases them into a closed open-enclosure so that people can come in bullet-proof vehicles and have a glimpse of it in the WILD. One caged lion in that zoo was shouting non-stop and a tiger (in a slightly larger ‘natural’ enclosure) was walking impatiently, trying to move away from staring humans, but unable to do so. This, after the court banned the public viewing of endangered species.
But then, what else can we expect from human beings, who poach animals for fashion; who cage birds/fishes at home for decoration; who tame animals for their utility; who have fun with family in a circus (fortunately these are not there now) and destroy forests for their comforts? Visiting zoos for sadistic pleasure seems to be one of our smaller vices – maybe we can even be proud of it?
And say, ‘Oh Honey, look at those lovely polar bears and pandas. How cute they are – I feel like cuddling them’. I wish such people just cross over to the other side of the cage and try it.
Hail Human Hypocrisy! Long Live Our Sadism!
PS: Can anybody give me one good reason to create/visit a zoo?