me, myself and my words
I was watching Free Jimmy the other day, and it brought me to think about zoos. The movie, for those that haven’t seen it, is about a poor elephant in a circus that is drugged to keep calm between shows. Of course, zoos are a bit different than circuses. I still believe circuses should be banned, if not only for the animal cruelty then for the cruelty of exposing children to clowns.
Now, back to the subject of zoos. I once watched a polar bear in Copenhagen Zoo. It lives in what to this large animal must be a tiny space, and at this particular time it was standing on its hind legs trying to see over the tall wall to watch the world outside. This brought on some cheering from the crowd watching him; people were pointing and laughing. The scene nearly brought me to tears. He is the largest predator on land and a known man killer. His kind is a symbol of a world disappearing as humans keep emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. To see this magnificent animal being reduced to something funny was just more than I’d bargained for when I bought the entrance ticket.
And yet, did I have a reason to be sad? I know most people have seen a polar bear, probably in the same type of surroundings as when I saw this one. To see one live is to understand just how big and how powerful this animal is. As we don’t have polar bears in Kiruna as some would like to believe it is necessary to take a very long trip to a very cold place to see one in its natural habitat, but a zoo is the next best thing. If only a select few had ever seen a live polar bear, would he still be such a powerful symbol?
I was thinking the poor polar bear perhaps isn’t just a clown, but an ambassador. As sad as it is for this individual does his captivity give others a better chance of survival? Most of us have seen how magnificent this animal is. When (or hopefully if) the last free individual of his kind dies, surely we will be many to cry over what this world has lost. I did not see many tears in 2006 when the Baiji dolphin was declared functionally extinct. Then again, I’ve never seen one in a zoo either.