“The Cincinnati Zoo’s problem wasn’t that it killed its gorilla. It’s that it’s a zoo.” This was the headline of an opinion piece in the Washington Post on June 1, an article that stated “keeping wild animals in captivity is fraught with problems,” and that “zoos . . . perpetuate the notion that [wild animals] are here for our purposes.”
Further investigation of the Internet yields many similar sentiments. CAPS (the Captive Animals’ Protection Society) says that “presenting animals to zoo visitors as living exhibits teaches children that animals can be manipulated in order to fulfill our own curiosity about them.” The Scientific American tells us that “being a zoo-ed animal, Harambe lost all of his freedoms – the freedoms to make choices about how he was to live, what he would eat, when he would sleep and go to the bathroom, where he would roam, and if he were to become a father.” It then goes on to ask, “So, would you allow your dog to be put in a zoo? If not, then why Harambe and millions of other individuals who languish behind bars?”
Wait – hang on a minute. Gotta go let Scruffy out so he can poop in the very natural habitat of our front sidewalk. While wearing a collar and attached to a leash. First I’ll need to remove our de-clawed and housebound kitty-cat off my lap, and, oh my – look at that hamster go! That wheel must be super-fun.
Just kidding. We don’t have any pets. Not out of any moral objection – only because I am very afraid of them. Which is an entirely different story. Lots of my friends have pets, though, and I’m not here to criticize them or any other pet-loving individual. All that I’m saying is that if you have pets, you can’t hate zoos. Period.
Think about it. You can call it a zoo prisoner or call it the family Chihuahua, and either way, what you are dealing with is a captive animal. They’re all made to live a certain way within certain confines, to eat certain foods, and to abandon their species and follow human commands. Some even attend school so that their behavior is more pleasing to “their people.” Most are well taken care of and absolutely well-loved. But they’re still there because a human said so. HELLO, ANIMAL, YOU ARE MINE NOW! YOU ARE A LIVING BREATHING THINGS WHOSE NATURAL INSTINCTS MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN BRED OUT OF YOU, AND SO I WILL PAY SOME MONEY AND MAKE YOU MY PROPERTY!
Sigh. It is starting to sound like I hate pet-owners. I really, really don’t. Pets are here to stay and I think good pet-owners are wonderful people. That’s the truth.
I just think the human-animal dynamic is kind of weird. And the pet-owners who rail against zoos – it’s them I really don’t understand.
One particularly ridiculous argument I came across claimed that domestic pets are different, because they were meant to be domesticated. Really? Says who? If there had never been humans on Earth, do you think dogs would have died out due to lack of Purina Puppy Chow? Do you think that the dinosaurs were roaming around going, “Godammit, I wish they’d invent humans already so there’d be someone to fence us in and give us treats sometimes!”
No animals were “meant” to be domesticated. Humans have done this. And now we want to argue with each other over which animals we can use for our entertainment.
Humans are so weird. And on that note, gotta go again. My bacon cheeseburger is ready.