For the completion of both my Mammalogy and Ornithology class, we were required to visit this particular zoo. As my classmates and I began panicking where to find the money to pay for the actual trip, I tried reminiscing the last time I went to a zoo.
It was in 2008, I was a college freshman and this trip was also for the completion of a Zoology subject. I remember hating that particular trip, not only did my buddy and I have no pocket money for buying souvenirs, but the fact that I saw firsthand the dismal state of every animal in captivity. It broke my heart to see Mali (the Asian elephant that has spun controversy over the state of her captivity) and I went home sad and hating the very concept of zoos and captive breeding.
As the years pass, with the help of people from different fields and different walks of life, I decided to dedicate my life in studying for the conservation of nature through specializing in ornithology. So now, here I am taking up my first bird-related subject. Also, due to the lack of subjects, I decided to study mammals together with birds.
And now, both subjects required us to go on a field trip — this time on a zoo run by a private organization. Clearly, I wasn’t excited: I don’t know what to see in there, and my hatred for such enclosed space is still at the back of my mind.
Shortly after we have arrived at the venue on Sunday, February 28, I felt the same old dread I felt 8 years ago. Of course, as required, I took my stroll around the institution and I am a bit amazed at the diversity of animals. Below are photographs (some are in terrible quality) of the animals that really captured my attention.
So why do I hate zoos and why do I not endorse captive breeding? Simple. It does more harm than help. But let me be clear though: in situ conservation is indeed necessary; but only when a certain species is facing a terrible threat of extinction. While one might argue that these animals inside the zoo are rescued from poachers, we should also look at the conditions that these institutions made for these animals. Like Joey below. He’s a Bornean orangutan, (and like other species of orangutans, they are arboreal) and he is kept in this seemingly big, wooden diorama that should act like a tall tree in which he can hang and swing.
What do we do then to help these animals from disappearing? Again, it’s simple but requires blood, sweat, and tears (and maybe a whole lifetime). Identifying the source of all environmental problem would be the key. Habitat loss? Land conversion? True, these are the causes. But still we should ask what causes habitat loss? Logging? More like large-scale logging done by private lumber companies. You see, environmental issues are not separate from social issues and when imperialist plunder of the environment continues, we can expect a fast extinction rate. Actively participating in the fight to get rid of capitalist interest in the environment is the surest way of saving these species and helping them thrive along with the rest of the flora and fauna and eventually, saving us.
I always welcome discussions regarding such controversial topics so, to anyone reading, feel free to comment and let’s talk.