Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Forest People

        Recently I visited the Phoenix Zoo. I used to love zoos. After keeping a few pet snakes over the years, I learned that I don't actually enjoy keeping an animal strictly for my own pleasure. I found myself wanting to give them increasingly elaborate environments that would mimic their real habitat. Through this process I realized my deeper desire to inhabit those places myself, and the pet was just my surrogate for that experience.
        Back to the zoo, I was okay, if a little apprehensive, about the exhibits, until I got to the orangutans. Their name means "forest person" and rightly so. When I looked into the eyes of our fellow great ape, I was immediately struck with an awareness of being looked back into, followed by deep sorrow, then by nauseating regret. That realization of consciousness motivates me, it's a part of my conscience, and changes the way I view the world.
        Not wanting to debate the mission and effectiveness of the modern zoo, I'll just say that I was afforded the opportunity, ironically, to see myself through the eyes of a captive creature I might never have encountered otherwise.

1 comment:

del said...

I feel much the same way about zoos.

Some zoos I've been to made me feel ashamed, like what was going on there was diminishing us all in the eyes of God. Others gave me a sense of hope, that maybe redemption was indeed possible, as with the captive breeding programs that saved the Mexican Wolf from winking out. So a lot of mixed feelings. Mostly I just stay away.

Good to see a new post up here, Eugene.