Friday, August 14, 2009

zoo blues

We used to be anti-zoo. Not that we protested and handed out fliers about understimulated animals. We just generally had a bad feeling about zoos. Now that we have kids, we've visited 4 zoos in 4 states (see the above photo).

It's amazing how priorities shift.

People defending zoos generally mutter something about conservation and then something about education. The conservation bit may be true. What do I know? I've never worked in a zoo. But I'm not so sure on the education bit. Now, from an unschooling perspective I supposed I should embrace the fact that kids are running, jumping, looking, investigating.

But in the traditional sense, there is very little educating going on. And since this is what most zoo-defenders are implying, that is the point I will argue. Sure, there are placards everywhere. "This is the North American Bumble Parrot. It hops from bush to bush, and poops more than it eats." But no one is reading that. They're looking for the next hot dog standing. Or throwing their quarter into a machine that flattens pennies.

I'm not judging. I barely keep up with my own monkeys at the zoo. There is very little soaking-in-of-knowledge. I take the "I'm a veterinarian, what do I know about monkeys?" approach.

So, while I love the zoo from an unschooling perspective, I'm not so sure about whether zoos serve the greater good. Animals pacing. Birds confined to small areas without the option of flight. Eh?

That said, the NC Zoo seems far superior in terms of animal welfare and mental health than the others I've visited. Again, just a feeling, not an expert opinion. God forbid I offend someone.

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