• We're Going To The Zoo, Zoo, Zoo

On Saturday my husband and I decided to visit Belfast Zoo as the last treat of our summer holidays. I have to admit I was really excited as I love seeing animals and the day promised beautiful creatures, a picnic and some quality time with the other half. I was not disappointed. Belfast Zoo has a really wonderful selection of animals to see and learn about, plus the design of the enclosures means you get quite close to the animals.

Well hello there!Monkeying around
Some are even roaming free likes the pelicans, and we noticed a few prairie dogs had tunnelled across the zoo to join the flamingoes! We really enjoyed having our picnic next to the spider monkeys who were swinging around, chasing one another and eating their bananas. They were the highlight for my husband whereas I prefered the more sombre gorillas.
Grumpy gorilla
Visiting the zoo got my husband and I into a discussion about the positive and negatives of such an establishment; the usual things like size of enclosures and lack of natural habitat came up as well as the counter attack of helping endangered species and breeding programmes. However my other half then pointed out that if it wasn't for the fact that people want to see these animals, then alot of the problems facing these animals wouldn't exist. It then dawned on me that what he said included me too. Yes global warming, habitat destruction and hunting are major issues to be tackled also. However how do we change our minds and desires about something that has been engrained into us as our right, not a priviledge.
Oh hello!It's behind you!
We assume the right to be able to see these animals at zoos, in the circus, at wildlife parks displaying tricks and acrobatics, even on television programmes. We don't appreciate that seeing these animals is a great priviledge and an honour, something awesome, not everday. What damage is caused by our demand for seeing these animals?
You can't see me?
All the elephants at Belfast zoo have been rescued from the circus and it is clear to the eye the damage that has been caused to them. The scars are still visble from a time when they were chained up and one in particular is so traumatised still that she just stands and nods her head. When Finding Nemo (the Disney film) was released the popularity of keeping tropical fish soared and clown fish were in high demand as pets, so much so that they were under threat in the wild. Crazy considering the film is all about the capture of a clown fish for a pet who then makes his way back to the sea, isn't that meant to be telling us something?
Bear Hug
There are so many awful tales of animals being kept locked up, taken from the wild for our pleasure, we should be ashamed. I was listening to James Taylor yesterday and "Knocking 'Round the Zoo" came on and it got me thinking about how we would feel. James Taylor is describing himself being the animal in the cage and I was thinking what must it be like? If I was a cheetah and had those amazing leg muscles that were wasting away because I couldn't go hunting or if I was a bear who couldn't splash around in the river catching the salmon jumping how would I feel?

If we love animals so much, so much that we want them as pets, to see them whenever we want in zoos or on the television, if we truly loved them that much we would forgoe the pleasure of seeing them at our convenience and we would be preserving their habitats so that they could be free. The knowledge that they would be in their own environments would be enough to fulfill us. If only we humans weren't so selfish.