I just want to thank you for writing “A Lovely Day at the Zoo and Some Nagging Moral Doubts as Well” (Hammer, June 4-11). I’m really glad you brought up the “zoo” issue, as I feel the same as you.
Growing up, I had always loved going to the zoo. Through the years though — having matured mentally and spiritually — morals, values and conscientious gut feelings have been ingrained into my soul. I now find going to the zoo somewhat saddening.
My uneasiness with the whole idea of the zoo began in Colorado, at the Denver Zoo. The zoo had started making elephants do tricks ... which reminded me of a circus. I did write to them and spoke my mind.
More recently, I went to the Indianapolis Zoo. Don’t remember much, but something that happened at the gorilla enclosure has been seared into my memory. The top male gorilla was sitting high up on a huge rock. At one point he looked straight into my eyes ... and then turned his back to me. For gorillas, staring into one’s eyes is a sign of aggression. He was telling me to go away. But he didn’t howl at me or make any aggressive moves. Just turned away. He knew he couldn’t do anything. He was fed up. Powerless. Trapped.
Zoos can be beneficial, helping people to understand nature and conservation. They can be a place of refuge for animals in danger. However, I see no other positives, other than human entertainment. The animals are there for human benefit.
I really feel for zoo animals. They are taken from their natural homes (possibly away from family), put into small enclosures (limited and freedom-less), gawked at and sometimes teased by humans, and sometimes forced to do tricks.
And you’re right about animals having thoughts and feelings. Have you ever seen that documentary about two formerly abused, female circus elephants? They had been rescued and taken to two different refuges. After a while, they were reunited, and they immediately recognized each other. They came together, hugging each other with their trunks. They stuck side by side, best buds. The emotions they showed were so human. This story just reinforces the fact that animals are feeling beings, just like humans.
Once again, thank you again for writing your story. Your story will open eyes.