Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Aimee Mann -- I can't Help You Anymore

Zoo yesterday. It was fun, chaperoning my daughter and her friend. I was all prepared for it to be sunny with a big hat, and wouldn't you know it, it was overcast and cool the whole day. I think the chimpanzees were the highlight of the day -- those and the giraffes. Unfortunately, the zoo is an odd experience, because so many animals are in the enclosures facing away from us, and that brings us up to a weird truth about zoos. When we got to cages where the animals were in a corner or not near us, we felt irritated, disappointed. Like the Taliban who had shot at the lion in the Baghdad zoo, we may have, if allowed, or if we could have gotten away with it, poked the lions and wolves and other inconveniently oriented animals with long poles or shot rocks at them with slingshots to make them turn to face us. As much as we go to zoos obstensibly for education -- the kids had to fill out a few pages about a particular endangered species -- it ends up being entertainment and exploitative. The animal must present itself to us, must look our way, must be visible so we can be appropriately entertained and enlightened. I suppose that if zoos did their work with endangered species, like the condor captive breeding program, without having the public come in to look at the animals and be entertained, the useful and inarguably good things the zoos do would not get done, but still, it is a weird thing to basically go to the zoo and expect animals to be there when we get to their cages (or, to be diplomatic, enclosures). When we left, there were a few people outside the entrance with anti-zoo placards and Villaraigosa signs. Perhaps it was Hahn people trying to turn people off Villaraigosa, I don't know, but one sign talked about the animals suffering for our entertainments, and when it comes down to it, that's an inescapable truth, just as it's inescapably true that we slaughter animals and cause untold suffering just because we like the taste of meat. And eating meat on such a flimsy justification -- "but we like it! -- is reprehensible. Of course, these are all arguments and thoughts I think best left for adults. I am not going to tell my daughter that zoos are exploitative and evil, although I may wonder. Just as I am not going to tell her eating meat is evil, although she knows I don't eat what I refer to as "dead animals." But you know, I really did enjoy the zoo. I think my favorite part is always the aviaries. I like birds.

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