I have purposefully avoided taking my child to the Zoo. Even though I can acknowledge that the agenda of zoos is most likely conservation and cultivating an appreciation for wildlife – I still can’t help but feel that the animals are imprisoned in a purgatory of unimaginable mental desolation. They are trapped in small confined “natural” habitats where humans gawk at them by the thousands, energetically raping them with their expectant eyes. Even the thought of the zoo overwhelms me with grief – the bleak reality that we have destroyed these creature’s territories, and now keep them in jail for our own amusement.
So when The Munch expressed interest in wanting to go the zoo, I debated telling her all that… and of course adding in a manifesto about poachers and the ever shrinking rainforest – but she just kept insisting that seeing a zebra would be cool. Besides, it seemed like a pretty dark conversation to have with your 3 year old on a a Sunday afternoon.
My parents had already brought Munch a few days before, and she wanted to go back with all of us to show me the animals. So my mom, dad, Munch and I all went to the zoo, as I grappled with twisting sentiments of not wanting to support this torturous eco system, but also acknowledging that from Munch’s perspective it was pretty amazing to see a panda bear.
My dad and I are both people who can never enjoy a moment because we are too busy over analyzing and judging. While Munch and my mom could appreciate the experience for what it was, my dad and I kept whispering to each other about the moral conflict. We would then look at people with disapproving eyes and flinch with disgust at those ignorant enough to pound on the glass in hopes for some attention from the unsuspecting spectacle inside. The sad being wondering why every one was looking at them while they were trying to snack on bamboo and scratch their ass. The only solace I had was when my dad reminded me that the trainers probably really loved these animals, and that they all looked like “nice women in khaki shorts.”
Yet here is the problem with witnessing a wild animal in a contained environment – it takes all the magic out. If I saw a Bengal Tiger out in nature I would shit a golden egg, but at a zoo you are like “yeah, that Komodo dragon is pretty neat, now lets go check out the gorillas.” It is so easy to flip through these beings like old magazines at the dentist. They are too accessible because they are enclosed. You didn’t have to put in any effort to find them, expect for maybe walking through a crowd of people.