Prisoners In a Five Star Hotel

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I have a complicated relationship with zoos; maybe everyone else does too. They're equally wonderful and pathetic. Remember the story of Harambe the gorilla who was shot dead at Cincinnati Zoo after a child fell into the enclosure? Well an odd thing happened after the news broke, people began to take the side of the gorilla and vilified Cincinnati Zoo and the little boy who fell into the enclosure. Harambe was then embraced by the internet and became the biggest meme of 2016.

We wouldn't feel responsible for the death of a human, but we would when an animal is killed because it was "one of us", a human being, that caused its life to end - w
e all feel culpable.

I've always had a fascination with animals and was lucky to go on school trips to Blackpool Zoo and family outings to Chester Zoo. I would lie in bed at night, dreaming of the lions and tigers - and, of course, the orangutans. I dreamed of becoming a zookeeper when I grew up if that meant I could spend every minute of every day surrounded by animals.

However, I began to hear stories about how these wild animals were weary and miserable to be locked up in cage all day. I read up about animal behaviour and saw for myself lions pacing agitatedly up and down in their tiny cell. They are fed, kept safe and warm yet they are not happy - prisoners in a five star hotel.

We all feel guilty about the existence of an animal in a zoo. Whatever an institution does to promote conservation we know those animals simple do not want to be in cages. We feel the frustration of each and every big cat striding back and forth behind the glass window pane.

Each time an animal is shot or put down in a zoo there is an honest and genuine sadness because we've had the 
thrill of seeing these beautiful yet alien creatures in the flesh. We cannot talk to them or interact with them but we can see an individual personality wanting to be expressed in any way possible.

Zoos are wonderful places, I don’t want zoos to close down, but we will always take issue whenever an animal's death is caused in a place where it should be safest. Maybe every zoo should have a statue of Harambe the gorilla or Tilikum the orca to remind us of the central wrong that these animals should have to be here in the first place.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm exactly the same, I love going to zoo's etc as I love to see the animals. It's just a shame what happens xo

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