Monday, June 27, 2011

Zoo Story

On my recent excursion to the Bahamas, I read an amazing book—so good, I sacrificed sun and sea to continue page turning. The book was called Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives. I'm not going to give you a book report or anything, but the story dips into the harsh truths of wildlife conservation and helps to answer the inevitable question of whether  zoos are good or bad. I highly recommend reading. 
After reading the book, I had some questions & thoughts and I felt I needed to visit my local zoos to help paint a clearer picture. First I went to the Central Park Zoo. The mini mecca of exotics located in the center of one of the most highly populated cities in the world, the zoo  does a modest job at showcasing the animals and providing them with decent enclosures.
Scenes from the visit include:
 baby mongoose...
sleeping penguins...  
a lap swimming polar bear...
sun bathing turtles and begging swans.

 Then I went to the Bronx Zoo. I went alone so I could observe the animals at my own speed. I focused on the primates, as I have a weak spot for prosimians and anthropoids.  

The jungle house was extremely quiet, not how you would ever expect the jungle to be. It was nap time and everyone was trying to sleep on display. I wondered if the monkeys ever have a peaceful sleep with so many people walking in and out of their bedrooms.
The gorillas were unreal. I could watch them for hours. I could watch the people watching the gorillas for hours too. It amazes me the way humans respond to them—most people can't believe there are other creatures on this planet that are so much like us.
My absolute favorite to see were the pygmy marmosets. The smallest of the primates, these little guys blow my mind. No bigger than a chipmunk, they look at you same way a curious 4 year old child would. This little guy was following my camera (a point and shoot that was bigger than him)! He made my day.
 After visiting the two zoos, my questions aren't completely answered. I still am not sure whether I think zoos are bad or good. I enjoyed watching the animals but it shouldn't always be about me. What's right for them?


  1. I love the Zoo! This makes me want to make a Zoo trip soon! great post :)

  2. have you been to the National Zoo in DC? It's a great example of a zoo that "gets it." Usually, I leave a zoo feeling sad and ashamed. The zoo in DC (free, btw) has the best habitats I've yet to see...very roomy and clean and natural. The elephants can roam the entire perimeter & the orangutans can actually swing & explore an outdoor "high line." I want to read that book...thanks!