There are many things that go on in the world that affect me and I reserve my opinions for my friends and family. However the debate over the way the Cincinnati Zoo handled the killing of the endangered gorilla, Harambe sparked me to share my opinion. Although I find annoying when people spew their unsolicited opinions, hopefully you’re here to read about my opinions. (Thank you by the way.)
I have to start out by saying that I don’t have any children however I’ve been around other people’s young children my entire adult life. I have seen questionable parenting, negligent parenting, and excellent parenting. As a society we are so quick to judge other people’s decisions while never having to face those situations ourselves. I can say for sure that if my child’s life was in danger, I would do everything in my power to protect them. I’m sure that the parents of the young boy who climbed into the gorilla exhibit felt the same.
With that said, I have been in public too many times and seen parents who don’t have control of their kids. They let them run around unattended and frequently into harms way. Just this past weekend I witnessed a man with a small little girl jaywalking across an intersection where on coming traffic had a green when the little girl ran out in front of a car. If the car were to hit the little girl, who is at fault? The driver or the man responsible for the safety of the little girl but illegally crossing the street?
The challenges of being a parent are endless, starting with the way that other people think you should raise or discipline your kids. I’m sure taking a small child to a fast paced and crowded environment such as a zoo isn’t on the short list of things that parents want to do but they do whatever they can to make their kid happy. However, when your small child says that they want to climb into an exhibit, it should trigger you to keep a closer eye on them. That wasn’t the first time that a child has gotten away from their parents but to lose an endangered species over it is disheartening.
By all accounts the gorilla seemed protective of the child. He began to drag him to an isolated area when the crowd grew louder which may have agitated the animal. Prior to that the gorilla held hands with the child, pulled him up by his pants, and stood over him while watching his surroundings. Given that the child was in close proximity to the gorilla for 10 minutes, it seemed that if Harambe wanted to hurt him, he would’ve done it sooner.
The zoo defends their decision to kill the endangered animal. Even though there were other options. They could’ve used their usual tactics to distract or negotiate with him or tranquilized him. But their response to those questions is that “we don’t know gorillas”. Well I’m sure if they knew gorillas, they wouldn’t cage them. When it comes down to it, kids will be kids and animals will be animals.We can’t always predict how they will behave.
It makes me think about how we cage people, limit their movements, their intellectual growth, and their ability to make decisions for themselves then we are surprised when they act out. Many people take issue with comparing a human life to an animals but they are both living creatures. Should we turn a blind eye to a human abusing or neglecting an animal because they are higher on our perceived food chain?
We label certain animals “endangered” so that we can protect them. Instead we take them from their natural habitat, cage them in an unnatural environment not even a quarter of the size of what they’re used to, then charge people to look at them and take pictures. I have been to a few zoos, most recently the Biological Garten in Berlin. The entire time I was sad. It was great to see such animals as giraffes, zebras, and flamingos that I would never see otherwise but their lives are limited to tiny cages and they are paraded around for human entertainment. All of the animals looked miserable.
There was a lioness that didn’t move the entire time I was there. I actually came back after 30 minutes to hopefully see her walking around but she was in the same spot. She had her back to the crowd and refused to turn around. Kids were yelling and reaching out to get her attention but she wouldn’t budge. There’s no way we can claim that we are enriching animal’s lives by confining them and keeping them from their natural environment. They have no where to run, they can’t explore or grow, they aren’t truly living. How would we feel if we were pulling from our homes and put in a cage with a manufactured setting and kept there until we died?
It’s not fair to cage animals and then discipline or kill them for reacting in a hostile way. When you are put in an uncomfortable situation your instincts tell you to fight or flight. The choice of flight is taken away from these animals so no matter how much you think you’ve trained them, they have instincts too. I would love to venture to Africa one day and take a safari ride to see the same beautiful and exotic animals in their natural environment. Until then, I can’t see myself supporting the confinement of animals in zoos.