Thursday, 27 August 2015

I still have mixed feelings

about zoos. I have been pondering my response to our visit on Monday.
It was interesting. The local zoo has changed greatly since I last saw it but I think I would  be just as happy not to go again. 
The kittens enjoyed themselves. Even the twelve months and two weeks old kitten was interested. She would have patted everything in sight. She had a long "conversation" with a frilly feathered hen in the children's section and, after staring intently at the meerkats eating their lunchtime chicken wings asked, "More?" We assumed she wanted to know if one raw chicken wing was all they got. 
We watched the hippopotami eating their lunch and the otters cleaning themselves after having had their lunch.
But the two giraffes worried me. They are big animals and they need a LOT of space. The same could be said of the two lions. One of those was pacing restlessly. We made brief eye contact. I suspect she was considering whether I was friend or food.
I wish one of the local vets was still alive. She had a small collection of native animals which could not, for one reason or another, be returned to the wild. She also had space for them. They roamed. They knew her of course because they were hand fed. For years we took visitors up to see her and she would patiently answer endless questions from the children. She would encourage them to be hands on, to help with the feeding and more. We grew masses of greens to help her feed them. The local shops gave her bread and vegetables they could not sell. What she couldn't use she would pass on to others who also kept injured animals. 
The Kittens won't get the experience of "going to see P's animals" so the zoo was the alternative.
I know that zoos have breeding programmes and that this may be the only way there will be a preservation of a diversity of species but it still bothers me to see animals, particularly large animals, in confined spaces they are not naturally intended to inhabit.
But, the meerkats and I got along very well together. They are intelligent and funny and Middle Cat was very naughty and gave them a teaspoon size piece of apple each. I really must find out why they roll all their food in the dirt before they eat it though!

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