Tuesday, May 17, 2016

At the Zoo

Someone told me it's all happening at the zoo. ~ Paul Simon

When it comes to zoos, my feelings are ambivalent.

Some locations have poor reputations when it comes to animal welfare. Those are obviously avoided. Others are considered to be far more competent. The fifty-five acre Riverview Park in Peterborough is regarded as one of the two most ethical zoos in Canada and touches on the positive aspects of zoos (research and education, captive breeding for endangered species). Still, I felt a significant degree of discomfort seeing these magnificent creatures in captivity. Part of me was thrilled just to see them up close-ish, knowing that for the vast majority of the visitors to this admission-free zoo, it would be the closest we'd ever get to seeing these beauties in person. The other part of me feels deeply for these animals who will never know how they were intended to live in their natural existence.

All that having been said, I still opted to have a wander around this small but versatile park, one day last month. I enjoyed the day - especially the always-fine company of my good friend, Carol Anne. Aside from one lynx which was showing signs of stress by pacing, the animals seemed to be content and well cared for. Still, with a lot of thought between then and now, I have hopped off of the fence. I suspect that I won't be returning to a zoo, anytime soon.

For what it's worth, the following photos are from that day.

barbary sheep
Day two was heavy for those short of sleep,
then Janice gave voice to her Kosmic Blues,
and the crowd bawled wild as Barbary sheep.
~ Le Moxie Mox
Handsome creatures - these Barbary sheep.

barbary sheep4
Fell into a deeper sleep
Where I started counting Barbary sheep
~ Justin Khaleel Jennings
But those horns look rather sharp.

Sicillian Donkey
A worthy man is still worthy even penniless. A donkey is a donkey even if he is finely saddled.
~ Turkish Proverb
This little Sicilian donkey was both shy and curious.

Don't Worry. Be Capy.
This is a Capybara. You wouldn't think that the world's largest rodent would be such a sweet-looking animal.

Of course there is a monkey. There is always a monkey.
~ Doug Dorst
The Squirrel monkeys were numerous and amusing.

MONKEY, n. An arboreal animal which makes itself at home in genealogical trees.
~ Ambrose Bierce
And active.

Squirrel Monkey and friends
I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's
~ Mark Twain
And cheeky!
(The young women were allowed admittance into the monkeys' environment. They were behind glass for the rest of us.)

moulting caribou

Santa knows Physics: Of all colors, Red Light penetrates fog best. That's why Benny the Blue-nosed reindeer never got the gig.
~ Neil deGrasse Tyson
Being followed by a turkey, the caribou/reindeer was not looking its noble best as it was deep into moulting season. 

Sloth Fact: These sluggish tree-dwellers move so slowly that algae can grow on their coats.
 ~ National Geographic
The sloth has to be one of the strangest, cutest and slowest mammals on the face of the planet.

In the morning I woke like a sloth in the fog.
~ Leslie Connor
Did I mention cute?

kangaroos and joey
Envy the kangaroo. That pouch setup is extraordinary; the baby crawls out of the womb when it is about two inches long, gets into the pouch, and proceeds to mature. I'd have a baby if it would develop in my handbag.
~ Rita Rudner
A small mob of kangaroos, a fair distance from my camera's lens. The upright one has a tangled mess of joey limbs in her pouch.

Scarlet Ibis
Through the purple corridors
The screaming scarlet Ibis flew
~ Oscar Wilde
This eye-catching creature is the Scarlet Ibis. Its colour comes from pigment in the crustaceans it eats.

meerkat babies
There is a strange animal in our zoo called a meerkat
That makes me laugh every time I look at
Although "kat" is in its name
It's no feline just the same
So you can say the meerkat is no mere cat.
~ Joe Flach
A litter of adorable meerkat pups - too sleepy to be in their classic upright position.

Bactrian Camel female
Camels are wonderful animals. Witty, intelligent and sensitive. ~ Robyn Davidson
This lovely lady is a Bactrian camel.

Bactrian Camel female smile
I distrust camels, and anyone else who can go a week without a drink. ~ Joe E. Lewis
Her coy smile is for the male which she knows is on the other side of the fence. She patiently awaits their reunion...

Bactrian Camel male2
On horseback you feel as if you're moving in time to classical music; a camel seems to progress to the beat of a drum played by a drunk.
~ Walter Moers
Though I suspect her smile will fade somewhat when she sees what a boorish slob he has become.

More photos from around town coming up before too long.


Kerry said...

Hahahahaa...those camels!
I fell that way about zoos, too. But the best zoos play an important part in preserving certain species from total extinction. The Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago has the world's biggest genetic data base, info on animals around the globe, and that's pretty important work.

Linda at To Behold The Beauty said...

Most zoos have made great progress in simulating natural habitats for their residents. And, as you said, they provide the only opportunity that most of us will ever have to see these animals up close and personal...and alive. That, in itself, has some value as it helps those people to be more aware of the need to protect and preserve the animals they're enjoying. As always, your photos are wonderful. That coy smile just might be enough to cause that boorish slob to repent.

Marie Smith said...

I have had the same sentiments about zoos though I do understand their work. I just can't visit them any more. You took beautiful photos there!

joeh said...

Linda pretty much said what I was goi9ng to say.

Ruth Hiebert said...

You did get great pictures of these animals.I agree with the feeling about the animals in cages.They would be happier in nature.

Red said...

You have the dope on zoos. Research and captive breeding programs , but after that leave it alone. Maybe we would value our environment more if we couldn't see animals in a zoo?

Linda said...

Beautiful animals! That ibis is spectacular!

Gary's third pottery blog said...

I know, I feel the same ambivalence about loving animals and their their lack of freedom in captivity.

Theresa said...

How timely, I was just having a small exchange on zoo's, circuses and horse drawn carriages. Oh and I feel confident I can lump aquariums in too. I'm with you. They make me feel uncomfortable on many levels but still the wonder of being able to see these animals up close is also there. Great pics.

J Graham said...

Count me in too as one who is ambivalent about zoos, but you got some great shots, thanks for sharing!

But now I have that damn Simon and Garfunkel zoo song in my head, dang it! But worth it for the adorable photos.

Crabby McSlacker (signed in under wrong google account)

Tabor said...

It appears that zoos are such necessary evils.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

ah oh aw

I understand your ambivalence...but I wuv the aminals. Reminds me I haven't been lately. Get out our family card.

messymimi said...

Like you, i'm ambivilent about zoos and their place in our world, i wish they were not needed. Still i love the animals, and you've captured several of my favorites.

ellen abbott said...

I have not been to a zoo since my kids were very small so at least 3 decades. I loved the zoo as a child before I understood what captivity was and how horrible their living arrangements. the Houston zoo has totally remade itself since then with larger new environments that are much better, more natural, and healthier for the animals. still, I have not been able to bring myself to go see them.

William Kendall said...

I do understand the need for zoos, and I'm better with it if animals have some terrain to move around in, but I'm also of a mixed mind about being there.

Hard to pick a favourite out of these shots... but I think those meerkats would have to be it.

Rita said...

At least the zoos are trying to treat the animals better...but I have a hard time visiting them, too. There's a small one here in Fargo and I have never been there. Maybe one day with the little grandson I'll take the plunge and see what it's like. Once will probably be enough.

Barb said...

Two of my Grands are fascinated with Meerkats. I LOVE the camels faces. They are such a hoot - and of course your words make me smile.

photowannabe said...

Love, love, love the camels and your commentary. It made me smile. Her "hairdo" is marvelous.
That poor caribou looks pretty scrungy.

Out on the prairie said...

I always enjoy a good zoo. There are a few around me, but 4hours away.i always make a day out of it.

Shammickite said...

I am starting to feel the same way about zoos, although I am a member of Toronto Zoo and I love taking the grandies there. But the bigger animals just don't look happy pacing in a tiny enclosure, but what is the alternative..... be hunted to extinction in africa, or squeezed out of their normal habitat by humans???
Anyway....I hope to get to see the panda cubs before they get too big.

DJan said...

Absolutely great zoo shots, but I am like you, I don't know what to think of them and avoid them mostly. LOVE the camels. :-)

Anonymous said...

I have to admit I love zoos, but not all of them, because of the same reasons you give. I spent hours and hours at the Houston Zoo while growing up and then later with my kids - it improved TONS over the years. I still felt pangs of discomfort for them, but I do believe seeing them up close like that and encouraging learning about them helps them overall. ("Don't Worry. Be Capy." hehehe)

Jackie said...

Spectacular photographs of these animals....
I hope you are doing well, Hilary. Thinking of you and sending a hug from Georgia, USA.

Anonymous said...

Lovely shots - but it does hurt me to see these animals in captivity! If we humans only took better care of the world around us, then they would be able to stay in their natural habitats.

Shady Del Knight said...

Hi, Hilary!

Your camera captured marvelous pictures of these zoo animals. It was a pleasure to examine and learn about the ones I don't often see which include the capybara, the sloth, the meerkats and the Scarlet Ibis. As always your witty captions and quotes are the icing on the cake.

When I was a boy in Pennsylvania my parents took me to the Baltimore and Washington zoos. It was the 50s and zoos did not provide a natural habitat to the extent they do today. I remember many of the poor animals, especially various types of bears, exhibiting signs of unhappiness and distress by constantly pacing. As a child I thought the behavior was funny, but now as I look back, I feel very sad for those captive beasts.

Mrs. Shady and I recently visited a native bird sanctuary here along the west coast of Florida. It was sad to see proud bald eagles and other majestic birds in cages but, considering their injuries, some inflicted by man, it is the only way they can survive. I support zoos that educate and strive to save endangered species. I do not support zoos or animal parks that round up and imprison wild animals for profit. Too many people these days are exploiting animals by obtaining and keeping exotics as pets, approaching and touching them in the wild, and forcing animals to pose with them for pictures. Animals need their space and they deserve to live their lives in freedom and with dignity.

Thank you, dear friend Hilary!

Leah J. Utas said...

A lovely visit, thank you.

Bob Bushell said...

Wonderful images of animals. I don't like to zoos, but I do like this one, well turned turned out. Thanks Hilary.

A Cuban In London said...

Beautiful photos. I must admit that I feel the same about zoos.

Greetings from London.

Daryl said...

zoos i have visited always have seemed to create environments as close to the animals native as possible .. however i will never go to a circus

Rick Watson said...

I love the zoo. We have one here in Birmingham but I haven't been in several years. I think it's probably time.

Cloudia said...

Love our time together

Jenn Jilks said...

Such a variety of critters, you must have had fun!

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

The sloth is my spirit animal -- something which I might not know if not for good zoos and Sesame Street. I do understand the conflicting feelings, and I hate seeing animals pacing, which is why I appreciate the good zoos that focus on education and mimicking natural habitat as much as possible ...minus the predator troubles. ;)

That said, I still have bad memories of a few zoos I saw as a child that caged the animals in small spaces. **shudders**

Anvilcloud said...

I get your qualms. I guess they're really important now for preserving some species. Zoos of some type might be their only hope.