Watching THEM watching US.

Went to the zoo yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed it. My day of staring at animals staring back at me has prompted a few zoo thoughts.

Life's a zoo

Zoo – A place where humans can see wild animals from a safe distance, whilst stuffing their faces with fast food.

Zoo – A sprawling complex of shops and fast food outlets with a few animals.

Zoo – An n amusement park or theme park with a few animals

Zoos. Those places where humans can see the last surviving members of endangered species that are only endangered because of the their systematic destruction by humans

Zoos – those places where animals can see humans in their natural environment – humans, pressed up against the glass of their enclosure, because zoos don’t have cages anymore, barred cages are redolent of prison cells and zoos are not prisons, they are places to observe animals in settings that are as close as possible to their natural environment. And so the animals stare out at the humans – stuffing their faces with popcorn and hot dogs, snapping away with cameras, knocking on the glass and shouting at the animals, trying to get them to move or perform animal antics.

Why aren’t the monkeys leaping around? Why aren’t they hyenas laughing? Oh why don’t the lions roar? Why don’t the parrots speak? Why isn’t the bear singing? The kids are disappointed? « The animals aren’t like in Disney. » complains one disappointed child to his mum before walking off in a sulk.

Rhinos farting around
Rhinos farting around

Oh dear, the way we have personified animals to the extent that kids are disappointed when they see the real thing. Oh the way those humans are so like animals. Two fat ladies eating bananas as they sit outside the gorilla enclosure. Kids monkeying around and having a food fight – Chimps tea party.

The chimps don’t have a tea party anymore – it was though to be « degrading » – so they just sit round, staring at the humans outside as they do monkey impressions.

Animals like humans. We’re not so far apart. There’s been a domestic incident in the puma cage. Mr Puma pads around in a sulky circle. Every time he approaches Mrs Puma, she rolls over on to her side, opens her legs and beckons Mr Puma to lie down for a cuddle, kiss and make up, but Mr Puma pads off again in his proud self piteous sulk.

Down at the Hyena enclosure, one of the bored occupants is also walking round in a circle. At the end of each turn, he pauses to lick the glass separating him from us, and then resumes his round. He walks a well-worn path that is turning into a rut – almost trench like. Life in a rut? Depression? Do animals in zoos get depressed? Do they get therapy? Does this Hyena get a regular trip to the animal psychiatrist? A nice trip to the zoo might cheer him up.

Better than being a handbag?????

And come quarter to seven, a synthetic digitalized voice informs the visitors that the zoo is closing and they should be heading for the exit. So, what would happen if they locked the visitors in for the night and let the animals go home. « All animals are kindly asked to head for the exit, as the human zoo will soon be closing. » What a thought. What about signs « Don’t feed the humans ».

I’m not sure who is better off, the animal occupants or the visitors. All that glass between US and THEM – is it to keep us safe from the animals or vice versa? They (the animals) are probably better off inside than us humans on the outside – at least they are protected from us, tough we like to think that we are protected from them – triple security glass to protect me from a racoon and a meerkat !!!


Four legs good, six legs better
Four legs good, six legs better

No, the animals won’t run away. Would you? A large rent free enclosure, with all the bamboo you can eat and a legion of keepers to look after. In return – well you don’t have to do much, just sit there, move occasionally and be stared at by thousands of humans.

And when the animals die off, why bother getting new ones, just fill the enclosures full of humans. We spend enough time watching TV documentaries or reality TV shows on how other live, I’m sure we would pay good money to see people nut unlike ourselves living out their lives in human zoos.

Here's looking at you.