Thank you, florists! On Sunday morning I was reading an article in the Winnipeg Free Press called Business is Blooming about how florists in the city had been flooded with an unprecedented number of requests for delivery of Mothers Day flowers on the weekend. They were putting in long hours to make sure all the orders were filled. A few even said they were going to be delivering on Sunday.
Just then I got a text on my phone. A flower delivery would be arriving at my door in a couple of minutes. My children and grandchildren in Saskatoon had sent me a beautiful arrangement filled with lilies, tulips, roses, daisies, and lots of other gorgeous flowers. I loved it! The Free Press article said although Mother’s Day is always busy for florists this year they were setting records. One woman who had been in the business since 1972 said she had never seen anything like it. Since children could not invite their mothers to their homes for meals, or take their Moms out to restaurants, or drop in at their mother’s home with gifts they were sending flowers instead. I know people might not consider florists essential workers but their extra efforts to connect mothers and their children yesterday were appreciated.
On Friday Dave and I went to Assiniboine Park and decided to walk all the way around the outer perimeter of the zoo to try and see some of the animals. It was pretty chilly so most of the zoo inhabitants were inside but we did catch a glimpse of a group of bison, a couple of antelope, and some llamas. We saw a worker cleaning out a cage and Dave, who loves zoos, wondered when it would be possible to visit the zoo again. I wondered aloud how zoos around the world were managing financially during COVID-19.
Yesterday a segment on CBS’ Sunday morning talked about just that. There is a possibility some American zoos may have to close permanently. Even though no one is paying to see the animals they still need to be cared for and fed. This means zoos are “hemorrhaging money” as the CBS segment puts it and without government help, many may have to shutter their gates for good.
A CTV story says the situation is very similar here in Canada. Zoos have laid off 60% or more of their staff but they must keep some essential workers to feed and care for the animals. At the Calgary Zoo, it costs $500,000 a month to buy food and provide veterinary care for all the animals. Without the cash from visitor entry fees and purchases at zoo gift shops and food concessions, zoos across Canada are looking to private donors to keep them afloat. Some say they will be bankrupt in just a couple of months.
I know zoos do a lot to educate us about animals and this, in turn, can inspire us to protect them and their habitats. Some zoos take in animals that have been mistreated or abandoned and give them a safe home. Zoos do important research into animal behavior. They support international breeding programs for endangered species and protect endangered animals from poachers. Many people, including my husband, think zoos are great, but……….
I have always been a little troubled by the fact that we cage wild creatures for our viewing pleasure. Can that be good for their physical and mental health? Zoos often separate animals from their families. Scientists tell us orca whale mothers and their children suffer real and deeply felt grief after one of them has been captured for a marine exhibit. I know many things are being done to make zoos places where animals can have more space and freedom and live in a more natural habitat but I still wonder if they are such a good thing.
The current crisis is making us rethink the way we do many things. The way we interact with the animal world will certainly be one of them.