Why do we have zoos?
I have been to many a zoo in my lifetime. School trips. Trips with friends. Trips as a kid. Trips as an adult. And though I can recall being excited, “Yay! Going to the zoo!” I also recall feeling awkward once there, watching animals pace in small spaces, or animals who look a little worse-for-wear.
And zoos aren’t something I tend to think about often, or at all. Not even while I am visiting one, and looking at the sleeping creatures on the other side of the glass. Nope. I think, “yay, zoo!” and then I think, “those animals look out of sorts”, and then I just forget about it all.
But zoos have been on my mind recently. Zoos have been in the news for various reasons – births, deaths, escaped R.O.U.S., and so on. And I’m suddenly wondering – why do we even have zoos?
Is it not strange to round up various creatures from all over the world and stick them in one location for humans to come gawk at? We don’t do this for hospitals, senior homes, or jails. We don’t say, “hey! Let’s go look at all the different old people, confined to beds and wheelchairs, today! What fun!” We don’t organize school field trips to jails to ogle the men and women behind bars in their jumpsuits.
So why do we do this with animals? Why do we plunk animals out of their natural habitats and ship them to habitats they are not used to, just so we can look at them?
I get that animals are fascinating. I get that many are endangered. I get people want to be able to study animals, and learn more about them. But do we really need so many zoos? Can we not maybe have a handful of locations, where animals who need to be rehabilitated, or are injured and need to live somewhere safe, can be studied by scientists (and whatnot), and sure people can pay to come see them if they happen to be in the same area. And that money can go towards research about the animals, and to help protect the endangered ones, and for medical help, etc.
Why do we need a safari park in Quebec? Why are we driving around in our cars through fake habitats to look at animals from inside the car? Why are we scaring animals WITH our cars, or possibly hurting them with exhaust fumes?
There’s a place here in Montreal that I have blogged about before called the Ecomuseum. It is a sort of zoo, but they have animals there who cannot be left in the wild, and who are being rehabilitated, and studied. It’s a nice, small place. It’s educational. It’s not the same as a giant zoo with elephants, lions, and so on, in their wrong habitats.
And I don’t have a problem with there being places that can house animals who cannot survive in the wild. Who are being kept in a large enough space that they are safe, and comfortable as they live out their lives. But I am so confused as to why we have this weird fascination with keeping animals in cages so we can spend money to go see them. Isn’t it weird?
Except for Pandas. Honestly, I have no idea how those creatures have managed to survive this long without becoming extinct, because they seem like the dimmest of all creatures ever. Have you watched any of those panda videos that have become viral and pop up on all sorts of websites, and social media sites? HOW HAVE PANDAS SURVIVED THIS LONG!? They need to be kept in captivity because I think they are safer having humans look out for them than leaving them on their own. I think they have survived this long only out of sheer luck – sort of how Harry Potter always seemed to solve the puzzle and survive the ordeals he was put through – LUCK! Not smarts. PURE LUCK!
And I’m pretty sure Yoshi is related to Pandas. I’m not kidding. Finnish Lappandahund YoshiBear.
This is by no means a ranty post about being anti-zoo. I just started thinking about zoos one night while I was having trouble falling asleep (seriously, I could make “Stuff in My Head While I’m Trying to Fall Asleep” a regular feature here) and I was baffled as to why we, as humans, came up with this idea. I guess it’s our stupid ability to feel entitled to owning everything? “Look here! Here is my collection of animals from all over the world! They are MINE! I put them in display cages!” I suppose that’s what the zoo foundation was built upon. But do we really need to collect animals like Pokemon? Or should we turn hospitals, senior homes, jails, and other contained locations of humans, into human zoos?