I wish parenting came with a book; one that was always right or one that at least, always agreed with me!
Early on, before kids, I came across the most sad forlorn elephant in a Vietnamese zoo. Chained, on a cement platform, I took one look and vowed I would never reenter a zoo again.
Soon after, I had the luxury of watching wildlife in Kruger National Park (South Africa) and Etosha National Park (Namibia). To say the experience was amazing and eye-opening is an animal understatement. I proclaimed that this was the only way my kids would ever see wildlife.
That is until I had a child and then 3 more, thanks to our blended family. That is 4 kids, 2 adults, which equals 6 tickets to Africa which amounts to one big financial headache. At least for us it did.
So then I research. Surely not all zoos are as bad as that one in Vietnam. Right? Couldn’t there be one or two that are safe, healthy and protective of the animals and their well-being; somewhere where our kids could see animals and not be breaking any animal taboos?
I tell myself that the research points to yes. Not all zoos are equal. So we go to New York City and of course, fall in love with the animals in the Bronz Zoo. I look around. It looks like they have covered all the angles. They must have. Right? This is the States, after all. And those baboons are so darn cute. We can’t even bring ourselves to leave.
Despite the fact we visited, my zoo quandary remains. And I worry that I could slide down that slippery slope right into one ugly unethical animal mess. Maybe I already have. I simply don’t know what and whom to believe.
As travellers become more wary of participating in tours that feel like “human zoos” in areas such as Thailand, I wonder this. If a “human zoo” seems inappropriate than is an animal zoo any better?
Faced with summer, looming on the horizon and billboards of cute pandas at the Toronto Zoo everywhere I turn, I ask myself: to zoo or not to zoo?
In the meantime, I will check to see if there are any cheap deals to Africa.
What are your thoughts on zoos?