Thursday, April 2, 2009

Seeing More Deeply at The Zoo

Some animals are easy to photograph and some are nearly impossible to catch, but too cute to resist. Lemurs are pretty much our family favorite ever since we bonded with some near Phoenix many years ago. This thing about zoos is we are used to seeing one of this and one of that and thinking there are these certain standard species out there in the world, but the really amazing thing is, if you read the signs, there is so much more than a zoo can ever show. You can walk until your feet scream at you but still, you have seen a tiny spec of a tiny sliver of a tiny percentage of the animals on the earth. The signs reveal that there might be dozens of kinds of lemurs and tens of species of a kind of monkey that has evolved to have no thumbs or a half dozen species of another that has evolved to have fingers that bend a full 90 degrees back so that they walk not on the palms of their 'hands' but on the pads at the base of the fingers to give their 'front legs' a few more inches of height. Thousands of species of crocodile/alligator like creatures and tens of thousands of snake species and several kinds of giraffes and over a dozen kinds of otters and hundreds of species of bats and, well, I could go on, but you get the idea. The diversity of life on our planet is fantabulously stupeniferously abundantly wonderfully amazing and we haven't even found and identified all the species yet, even as we drive them out of existence. It is an overwhelmingly resilient and dynamic natural world, yet we as a species possess a singular power to change and destroy and damage without even intending to or knowing we are doing so. The beauty is awesome, but the responsibility is staggering.


Gene Redlin said...

I hate zoos

I can't stand to look at those caged animals looking alone and forlorn

goprairie said...

Have you been lately? Most zoos have done quite a bit with figuring out how to keep the animals happy these days. They provide them with novel things to play with and hide their food so they use their instincts and skills and take time to find it and get exercise, mentally and physically, in the process, and many animals have choices about where to spent their time, via access to different enclosures and indoors or outdoors. Even that pacing behavior that we used to think was a sign they were stressed really is not - it is just their need to move a certain amount a day, but it bugs poeple to watch, so zookeepers have found ways to channel that activity to less repetitive things. That zoo animals have life spans mahy times longer than animals in the wild should erase some of that old thinking you have about 'terrible' zoos. You should give a zoo a chance if you have not been in a while. Go on a weekday, about noon, after the school bussed mobs have dissipated, and take your time and watch carefully just a few kinds of animals instead of rushing for a glimpse of every one. They are more like us than we think. Especially the animals that live in pairs or families. Especially the primates.

Gene Redlin said...

I went to Brookfield about a year ago. Looking at the Polar Bears, the Sea Lions, the Elephants and especially the Primates made me cry.


I know it seems strange, but I would willing hunt and kill an animal in the wild (only if I eat it, no useless killing) but hate to see those beautiful animals trapped.

I don't kill anything I don't have to. Even spiders. I had one (a daddy long legs) trammel down to visit me this morning at my desk. I said hello and let him go on his merry way.

Even mice, I will try not to kill, but if I have to I will.

I know I'm a weird one, but I value life, free life.

Yet I'm for fighting just wars. For capital punishment of really bad criminals. BUT really against killing babies in abortion.

NOW, I don't like locking people up. I always liked the prison farm concept. They do that at Angola. We used to do that in North Dakota.

What we do now is primate house like.

AND, I don't do drugs, but locking people up for drug possession is stupid.

Zoo like.

Even Madoff, Bernie Ebbers, Skilling and all the other guys in jail for white collar crime shouldn't be locked up in the zoo.

Break them, strip them, and turn them out into the street.

Life will be very very hard. As it is for you and I but an animal or a human free are far better off than in the zoo.