Have you been to the zoo lately? If so, you probably had a pretty good time looking at all the animals, but you likely didn’t give any thought to the fact that zoo animals are neglected and treated cruelly every day of their lives. This article might not be something that you agree with, but I ask you to delve into the minds of those captive creatures that so many pay to see at our zoos in America.
Did you see the elephant in the small concrete enclosure with nothing to do for his or her entire life but roam in circles so you can stare? Some are shackled to a bare tree. They rock back and forth because there is nowhere to go and nothing to do. They cannot run through the country and play in the watering holes like their relatives in the wild. I wonder how quickly our minds would crumble if we, as humans, were to be shackled to a tree for life.
How about the monkeys at the zoo on that small man-made island with nothing to do but climb on the few ropes and bare trees at the center of the island for their entire life, staring back at all the eyes that are on them; seeing the people come to the edge to watch, and then seeing them walking far away? Oh, how the monkeys would like to go…..anywhere off of that tiny island….anywhere where they could swing free from tree to tree, and gather food, and play with no boundaries!
The great ape is another tragedy of the local zoo, living in a concrete enclosure with a rubber tire to play with for his entire life. He is a proud being, but he is degraded daily with children beating their chests and mocking him.
Let’s not forget the birds that are in the wire cages flying the twenty feet back and forth because they are not able to do what wild birds actually do. The sparrow that can fly for miles if it were freed now has only a tiny distance to spread its wings, and if it flies too fast, it will run into a wire mesh. How these little creatures would love to float on the wind as birds were meant to do! But they are caged, like all the animals, for your amusement.
If you talk to many Zoo officials, they will tell you that there is no way these animals could survive in their natural habitat. Some would indeed thrive if they were released. Some would not, but only because they have been broken mentally. They have been caged and restrained, and have given up their spirit and resigned to swaying back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
I saw a picture on the internet the other day of a giraffe enclosure. The 10-feet-high concrete walls had been painted with murals to look like the trees giraffes live among. The graceful giraffes that were caged there were trying to lick the leaves from the concrete trees. It was a cruel and sad sight. Another picture showed a polar bear in a similar concrete enclosure, except that this one had paintings of ice bergs and snow…..but sadly, there were none. The polar bear lay on a slab of rock, staring into the painting. It too was a cruel and sad sight.
The movie, Instinct, came out some time ago. It told of gorillas in the wild that were killed for trophies, and caged for entertainment. I remember the shot of the caged majestic ape. He was despondent. He had no life left in him. He had no pride left. He had nothing to live for. But…..the people watched him sit and stare his empty, sad stare. His eyes were glass, and there was no life or joy in them. Once he was a king and swung from the trees. Now he sat and waited to die.
The next time you visit the Zoo look into the eyes of all the animals. I hope you will see what I am speaking of: the small ones, with wonder in their eyes, wonder of life outside their entrapment; and the older ones, giving up their hope a little more each day. I believe you will see the sorrow and hollow look of creatures that were cast with a role to play in nature, but for our amusement they are cheated out of that role.
When I see on the news about a new baby arriving at the zoo I am sorrowed to know that the animal will never know the life that they were meant to live. They will never find a mate the way nature intended. They will never have the freedom to choose.
I wonder if someday human beings will be caged and a price paid to stare into their hollow eyes. I would gladly pay to see animals living free in the wild, living the life they were meant to live, each in their own environment….an environment that they chose to remain in…..not our concrete prisons. I will never go to a zoo. Will you? I cannot support animal abuse in zoos.