We just returned home from the zoo where Little Legs marveled at the big fish, laughed at the meercats and shied away from the solitary tiger that raced back and forth in its enclosure. Baby Brother stayed in the stroller where he gazed up at the blue sky and the faces of his favorite two people as we switched off pushing him.

Although it was a joy to spend the day with my family, there is a sadness that still clings to me with the weight of a toddler. I keep thinking about the animals, seemingly healthy and well-cared for, but existing in miniature, man-made environments where everything was artificial and based on convenience for their keepers and the viewing audience.

The plexiglass separating us was not thick enough to stop the stares of the various varieties of monkey folk from looking out and making an emotional connection, alternating between humor and curiosity but mostly with sorrow at their containment.

What continues to bother me the most occurred in the kangaroo pen when we came upon a masked keeper hand-feeing an energetic joey.  

“Why isn’t she with her mother?” I asked inquisitively. “Is she an orphan?”

The joey hopped back and forth on its still spindly legs, supported by its thick tail, and begged for more snacks, like a hopeful puppy.

“Ok, that’s enough,” the keeper said with a laugh and opened a bag on the ground.

The joey hopped in headfirst and rolled its big feet in after it to re-emerge with its shiny black eyes and dark nose peeping out from within the bag.

“No, she isn’t an orphan. The mother was too aggressive and wouldn’t let anyone approach her, so we had to separate them. Two of our keepers took her home and bottle fed her through the early nights. We still take turns wearing her in this pouch,” the keeper explained, slinging the bag around her neck and patting the occupant.

Through my mask, the keeper must have sensed my horror because she continued unprompted.

“We have to make sure they can be successful with the herd in this kind of a setting.”  

I understood the reasoning, but this explanation made me feel low, as in scum of the earth for indirectly supporting this decision by visiting the zoo.

What cruel creatures have we become to prevent a mother from protecting and raising her young, in order to create a product to entertain the crowds? Surely, we can do better because what we do to animals, we do to ourselves in that all lives are connected and sacred.   

We must do better for ourselves, our children and our future.

I am starting with a letter to the zoo.

How about you?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s