Thursday, October 21, 2010

Zoo Madness

I've been meaning to post this entry for ages, but have been awfully lazy about getting the photos off of my phone.  So, close your eyes for a moment, pretend it's Monday and that I was clever enough to bring a real camera so that the following photographs don't, in the academic sense of the word, blow.

Sunday, Pater, my sister, my niece and I went down to San Antonio to meet up with my cousin and his family at the San Antonio Zoo. 

Oh, zoos.  I have a lot of opinions.  On the one hand, conservation and breeding programs are lovely and I would be a strange sort of person if I were to look at, say, a tiger and tell him that just because we as humans insisted on hunting him and destroying his habitat to the point of extinction doesn't mean that we should be doing anything about it.  Buck up, imaginary tiger, you had a good run.  Please don't rip my face off.

On the other hand, oh lord, what a truly terrible existence.  While improvements have been made in regards to how animals are kept in zoos (at least in the States - I refuse to think of the zoo I went to in Japan ever again because I am a giant softie and it makes me sniffle) they're still incredibly depressing places.  Here, let Rilke make my point (as translated by Stephen Mitchell):

The Panther

               In the Jardin des Plantes, Paris

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars, and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly—.  An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.

Enough of my very important feelings.  Let's jump straight to the bit where you get to scroll past a million crap photos. 
Sea Horses!
Canoodling Sea Horses!
He's torn his wing, poor guy.

Napping Lemurs!
Cranky Jaguar!
 While the jaguar was cranky, he was nothing compared to the leopard.  Shortly before we got there, the keepers had pulled him out of his enclosure and we could here him rather loudly protesting whatever it was they were doing to him.  Not a happy kitty.

Hippo Butts!  Hee!
Is it a log?
Very much not a log.  Well done, camouflage!
Probably because they are so very clever, the effects of zoo madness are very easy to see in elephants.  We were camped out by the elephants while having lunch and this ladyphant spent her time pointedly ignoring all the 'distractions' that were in her enclosure to stand, facing that corner and shift from foot to foot.  There may have been a half-hearted dust bath.

She did manage to rouse herself when one of the keepers came in with a hose.  I would like to say she cavorted in the water.  She did not.  Poor elephant.

Black Rhino!
There were two keepers attempting to lure the black rhinos into smaller pens.  As you can see, the rhino may have a reputation as being incredibly stupid, but he is not stupid enough to not give the side eye to someone holding a frighteningly huge syringe.

And thus concludes the trip to the zoo.  While it was wonderful to see the interest and joy in the kids and I'm glad they got the chance to ogle some fascinating creatures it was still all in all rather depressing.


  1. Oh I am with you. I hate zoo trips cos I'm the mum Im supposed to be all 'yay kids a zoo' but I end up pointing out the ethical implications instead which kind of spoils the fun. If they want to support breeding, do it in the environment they want to breed in, we can look at pictures. We also have nice native animals which kids barely recognise. Grrrrr.

  2. Oh the mysterious native animals. If it's not a squirrel or a cardinal I don't think my niece would be able to recognize it. She's getting better at birds, but it's hard to be all, 'look an armadillo,' when they're inevitably roadkill.