My husband Dave likes to visit zoos when we travel. It is not my favorite thing to do. I feel so sorry for the animals especially in some zoos where the poor creatures seem to be trapped in such miserable living conditions. So every time he wants to visit a zoo and I protest Dave cites the Life of Pi argument.
Pi says many people think zoos are cruel places run by wicked people who throw animals into tiny jails. The trapped animals have their free spirits broken.
Pi says animals aren’t free in the wild either. They live in a dangerous environment with a deadly animal hierarchy and are in constant fear that they won’t find enough to eat. They must constantly defend their territory.
Pi says wild animals are very territorial and their enclosure at the zoo is just another kind of territory where they are safe and have easy access to food and water.
Pi claims zoos are no better or worse for animals than the conditions they experience in the wild. In fact he says animals probably prefer zoos because there aren’t so many bugs and enemies and there is lots of food.
I had to listen to Dave make this argument again when we visited the zoo in Merida Mexico on a brutally hot day where the close quarters of the animals and the almost overwhelming smell did little to convince me that Dave or Pi was right. Dave on the other hand spent a happy hour checking out all the wild life.
I have yet to come up with a good enough counter argument to prevent further trips to zoos on holidays. Do any of my readers have one?
Thanks to my friend Rudy Nikkel for the photos of the animals in the Merida Zoo.