Horses

There are many people who do not like zoos. I am not one of them. Of course, I would much prefer to see wild animals in their own habitat, and I do hate old-fashioned, ill-kept zoos. But zoos nowadays are no longer rows of holding cages with bored or even crazed animals leading a miserable existence.

Many zoos have incredibly fascinating exhibits, where the landscaping is done in such a way, that the animals have lots of places to hide and feel they can lead a private life. They respond to this treatment by mating and producing offspring.

People often attribute human desires and needs to animals. I have done that myself, before I learned better. I remember one occasion where some antelopes had jumped out of their enclosure at the zoo (where my uncle worked) during the night. When my uncle came the next morning, the animals were back in their enclosures, having jumped back of their own accord. When I remarked on this to my uncle, he said: “Why shouldn’t they go back. It is where they live, where they feel safe and where they get fed. There is no point in running away – they do not experience captivity the way we would, providing they are comfortable.” On another occasion, my uncle was accosted by a lady who complained about captive eagles, saying that eagles should be able to soar – at which he replied: “Eagles only soar, when they are hungry!”

Having quoted that, I have to add, that I do feel that big birds soar for sheer pleasure at times – I have often watched the vultures do their dusk dance, as I call it. At that time of the day, they are not looking for food. Those vultures have it so good, with food at their disposal all the time in the zoo that they never have to search for it.

Zoos are the arks of Noah of our modern time. When the unstoppable floods of humanity cover the surface of the planet, zoos and nature reserves will be the only places where we will still be able to see that once upon a time there were other creatures than man and insects.

Why would we want to see other creatures? What we do not know we will not miss, some people may say. The funds needed to maintain animal collections should be spent on human necessities….

I do not agree – and some people are with me!

“When all the animals have gone, man will die of a great loneliness of spirit; for what happens to the animals, happens to man – all things are connected.”