Friday, July 20


I don't quite get why that should be such a controversial notion. They're wild animals. They come from ecosystems where their kind have adapted to live according to certain conditions, climates, foods, etc. Yet we think we can plop them in the middle of cities worldwide without adverse consequences to them or ourselves.

As regular readers may have noticed, I've stopped citing all the little incidents of animals escaping and/or hurting people at zoos, or of zoo negligence causing distress and/or death to zoo residents (except in particularly egregious cases), but it all goes on, of course. And it's all part of a pattern of paternalistic human arrogance - we're so smart, we know what's best for these animals, so it's fine for them to be housed here as our entertainment.

With the addition of severe weather as a by-product of human-induced climate change, the dissonance grows, even when media outlets help paper it over. Check this slide show from the BBC. Photos 6 and 7 have innocuous captions that allow us to enjoy the funny animals. What's not mentioned, and what is part of the original captions, is that in each of these cases extreme measures are being taken in attempts to keep these animals healthy while the weather where their zoo is located would otherwise be devastating to them. That bear with the fish? Here's the caption as filed:

    "One of the polar bears at Budapest Zoo catches a fish in her mouth while diving in the pool, after keepers feed them only in the cold water to protect them from the current extreme heat in Budapest, Hungary Friday, July 20, 2007. During this week, central Europe was hit by an extreme heat wave, with temperatures rising over the 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) mark in many places of Hungary. (AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)"
and that cute meerkat? Why would it be standing in front of a heat lamp?
    "A Meerkat keeps himself warm under a heat lamp in his enclosure at Sydney's Taronga Zoo Friday, July 20, 2007. During a week when Sydney experienced its coldest winter's day in 21 years with temperatures dropping to an arctic negative 0.6 degrees [celsius, I assume - just below 32F] the zoo provided infrared heat lamps for the active little desert dwellers to keep warm. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)"
So far these measures seem to be working - at least we haven't heard the animals complain. But they're symptoms of the big-picture problem.

No comments: