This is an interesting subject for me, because I have two strong views that are not in harmony.
I don’t like the idea that wild animals are kept confined and trained to do things that are not in their nature for our amusement in circuses and animal themed parks. The thought that they are sometimes badly mistreated in order to get them to do these things, is even worse. Zoos and aquariums are at least a bit less offensive, since the animals are only on display, not doing “tricks.” BUT, they are still confined.
In my perfect world, all wild animals would live where they should live – in the wild.
So these places should be abhorrent to me. Yet there is a part of me that thinks they are not a terrible idea.
Jacques Cousteau said, “We protect what we love.”
I first saw that quote on the wall at the aquarium in Maui, and it rang true to me.
If we are going to protect something, we need to love it. And if we have no access to wild animals except on the pages of books, can we really love them? I’m not sure we can.
Zoos, circuses, amusement parks, and aquariums all get us up close and personal with wild animals, thus giving us the opportunity to have feelings for them.
I could do without the tricks. Seeing animals doing things that they don’t do in the wild bothers me (although I’ve certainly been known to watch!) so circuses are my least favorite, followed fairly closely by Seaworld type places. But rather than doing away with them, I wonder if there isn’t some way of altering what these places do? If instead of big top “performances” by animals, we just watch people doing tricks, and watch the animals being themselves?
It’s not a cut and dried subject, and there are no easy answers. But it seems like we need to talk about it.