I am angry today. Not because Harambe was shot dead… Because this world – in which we have to choose between who deserve to be dead and who deserve to live – was created by us!
We have created a world in which ‘experts and professionals’ decide who is more important to live… and the mass blindly follows them. Not only who deserves to live but how should one live, how should one be killed, how long should one live…
That’s the supremacy of man in all its glory!
Harambe is dead and the little guy Isiah Gregg is alive! There is no point trying to figure out whether the decision to shoot him was the right one. I have been following the hot debates and I must have read hundreds of articles from experts, zoo-keepers, caretakers of animals, common people, parents,vegans, animal right activists, ecologists, conservationists, primatologists… the list is long ; Everyone is trying to figure out who is responsible but EVERYONE is responsible. EVERYONE. YOU AND ME!
We have all been to parks and Zoos, I have been to the local parks, I walked with the lion cubs and marveled at the sight of Tigers and Leopards , what a great experience this was. I even paid the park with my money.
But hold on! I am in Mauritius… On this island, there are no native lions, tigers, giraffes, zebras etc… then how the hell am I able to watch them here? We keep in mind the great moment but least do we think about these animals. How did they end up here, miles away from their places of origin? How are they taken care of? There are always cubs at the Casela park! So logically there is a breeding program. What happen when they grow up? So many cubs but not that many adults huh!?
Zoos and animal parks do not promote education and conservation.
Only some weeks ago, my 4 year old nephew visited the local wildlife and bird park Casela on a school educational tour… This is what he saw and this is what he learnt:
- There are Giraffes, Zebras, Lions and Tigers in Mauritius.
- There are here to entertain us.
- They are here for us to look at them.
- They are kept in cages and closed fenced areas, which really is okay.
- They eat what humans feed them.
- They were pacing in small enclosures back and front, which is their normal behavior.
- It is okay to cage a bird.
- It is okay that the bird cannot fly.
- They are all nice and calm wild animals… very calm!
How was this educative?
Harambe was dangerous for humans. Gorillas are not aggressive and are NOT dangerous animals but any 400 pounds Gorilla can inflict serious wounds to a frail and fragile person… but hey.. How would Isiah possible know that? He was taught that Gorillas are here for human entertainment, he was told that Gorillas are here for human, then why not pay them a small visit?
Even my nephew today has no idea that those calm and nice animals he saw, can rip a body part off him, wound him or even kill him.
Kids at that age are very intelligent and do understand what is good and what is bad and dangerous for them but they were not taught about these. You do teach your kid to keep away from hot and sharp objects, you do teach them not to run on the stairs or wear their seat belts in the car… then why not teach them that wild animals are meant to be wild?!
Zoos and parks do not teach children positive lessons about animals. Kids who watch leopards pacing in mindless patterns get a completely inaccurate picture of what large predators are all about. “They also learn that making sentient beings suffer for human amusement is acceptable. We want to teach kids to show kindness towards animals, not stare at their misery while eating popcorn”- says child psychiatrist Dr. Sujatha Ramakrishna.
Studies have shown that zoos visits resulted in ‘negative learning outcomes’.
“Zoos present an entirely false view of both the animals themselves, and of the real and very urgent issues facing many species in their natural homes. This new research appears to confirm what we have said for many years. Zoos do not educate nor do they empower or inspire children to become conservationists.” – Liz Tyson, The director of the Captive Animals’ Protection Society (CAPS)
Zoos perpetuate the Conservation Myth. For a tiger to survive in the wild, it needs to be raised by its mother for 2-3 years. Zoos often take cubs from their mothers to make them more dependent on humans and more tractable as exhibit animals. No zoo tiger is ever going ‘home’ so cut the conservation crap! Besides someone genuinely interested in saving a species would put his money in an African conservation program instead of shipping wild animals from Africa miles across oceans to a tiny island which cannot even protect its own endemic species.
There are even accrediting bodies for animals parks and zoos… Yes… modern zoos try their best to create a zoo environment as close as possible to their natural habitats and I believe that zoo keepers and animal caretakers are genuine people trying their level best to care for their animals, but the bottom line is that zoos are businesses which are here to make money.. animal deaths are just collateral loss and visitors bring profits… As long as the balance sheets are OK, everything is fine! Zoo is business and the goals of a commercial enterprise are financial: It’s ALL about the money.
The real talk here is national parks and sanctuaries! We have them in Mauritius but they are less interesting because since the animals roam freely, we do not particularly see them. True sanctuaries do not breed, do not allow public interaction, do not require their animals to perform, trade, sell or take their animals offsite. The best sanctuaries offer habitats far superior to any zoo enclosures, and they do not deny their cats privacy.
Watch documentaries with your kids if you want the latter to know about wild animals. We have already taught kids that killing for food is acceptable; now why killing for entertainment shouldn’t be acceptable too. We have been sending a bunch of controversial and confusing information to our kids and then wonder why many just turned out to be so messed up.
Oh the bats ate OUR fruits! Let’s kill them…
Oh the dog had babies! Let’s dump them…
Oh they killed the Gorilla… This is bad…
Do not hit the dog… This is wrong…
Watch this social experiment: Kids were asked to eat live animals
Animals in zoos gave up their freedom for a lifetime of confinement so as to entertain people for half a day! For your entertainment which last 1 day, their captivity last a whole lifetime!
How can this be right?
We all dream of a better world and hope that the new generation will be better than the last one, but do we realize that it is our responsibility to make it better? We all have a role to play here…
I saw a beautiful quote by Bradley Miller and it is just perfect to conclude this article:
“Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar..”