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Childproof Zoo Habitats

The following video shows Harambe before the incident.

I feel I’ve been silent about this long enough. Harambe’s death brings so much sadness and frustration to my heart, I need to write about it. Zoo animals have few choices. They have no voice. This post is for Harambe.

I’m making a conscious effort to refrain from criticizing the mother of the little boy who managed to get into the gorilla’s home. This is not because I believe her to be free of responsibility. But focusing on the parental supervision issue distracts from a bigger issue.

Zoos have a responsibility to keep both animals and humans safe. A child should not be able to get into a zoo animal’s living space.

Yes, the Cincinnati Zoo recently made an effort to improve safety by increasing the height of the fence around the gorilla habitat by a few inches as shown in this report, but it’s not enough. A child could still climb over the new fence. A six foot tall fence, with strategically placed openings for viewing, would be more likely to prevent another tragedy. When we weigh the risk of harm to an animal or a human against the desire to view the animals without any obstruction, what’s more important?

Zoos as we know them are not ideal. I question whether it’s ethical to confine animals in such settings for the benefit of human pleasure and human profit.

The following New York Times article explores whether we should have gorillas in zoos at all.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/07/science/gorilla-shot-harambe-zoo.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

In the above article, Dr. Watts, a primatologist at Yale University, explains Harambe’s behavior. He told the reporter he wishes he could have been there at the Cincinnati zoo during the incident.

“He would have volunteered to enter the enclosure and assume a submissive fetal position on the floor to try drawing the gorilla’s attention from the boy.”

My sadness multiplies when I watch the videos of Harambe with the boy. The gorilla appears to be taking a protective stance over the child. Harambe is not sure what to do. Yes, he does drag the boy around, but that happens after minutes of being screamed at. I have not found any accounts of attempts being made to distract Harambe, or bargain with him, which should have been the first thing to try.

Is it asking too much to have people trained to handle these kinds of situations in more than one way?

Is it asking too much to protect gorillas and other intelligent, endangered animals from exploitation and deadly risks?

Is it asking too much to make animal habitats humane and childproof? That would depend on your definition of humane. But certainly they can be made childproof.

I believe that in a civilized society, zoos as they exist today, will be a thing of the past. We CAN find ways to keep animals safe in humane preserves and sanctuaries, where children and unstable people can not get to them. I’m glad the boy who infiltrated the gorilla’s home was not seriously hurt. But my heart breaks for Harambe and his family.

 

 

 


11 Comments

From Prison Cells to Sanctuaries

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I have mixed feelings about zoos. I enjoyed taking my kids to the Milwaukee Zoo when they were young, and the zoo in Asheboro, NC had a lot of wide open spaces when we visited many years ago. Still, the big cats could have had more room. These zoos are more like parks, with some cages. The elephants, rhinos and antelope had plenty of pasture to roam. They were a far sight better than the roadside zoos which unfortunately still exist.

The zoos where animals are caged in spaces that remind me of prison cells should be illegal by now. I imagine what it would be like to have to stay in my living room all the time. That’s what some cages in roadside zoos are like for lions, and tigers and bears. They pace back and forth. I hate to even think about it.

In an ideal world, there would be no zoos, only sanctuaries and parks with natural habitats. But since zoos do exist, we can be sure to only support the most humane and natural facilities, or none at all. I applaud the work of Jane Goodall who has done so much to improve conditions for chimps, and those who create and maintain sanctuaries like the one Shirley goes to in this moving video:

We can make a world with no chains and no more cages, a world with love and compassion.

Today’s stream of consciousness prompt was, “zoo.” If you’d like to find out where your stream of consciousness take you, visit:

https://lindaghill.com/2016/04/29/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-april-3016/

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!