This week’s round up only has one trope, knowledge-pickers-support your local zoo.
We remember many an argument from the nineteen eighties about zoos, and the well intentioned case from the other side. Animals should roam free. Captivity can foster psychological aberrations in animals, especially those on the intellgent side, like bears or cats. Animals are not to be gaped at, like waxworks in exhibitions. All true no doubt. But then as now, we live in an imperfect world where one highly armed, arrogant species is trashing the livelihood and existence out of every other, and pushing species after species to extinction. Without zoos, wild animals would not exist at all. A zoo is like an Ark, its keepers latter-day Noahs, desperately keeping their charges alive. Until a better day, when humanity has outgrown its infantile egoism, and large parts of our planet can be returned to nature.
The Zoological Society of London was founded in 1826. But thanks to the drop in visitors due to Covid, it may not see its 200th anniversary in five years’ time. Which is suddenly true of just about every zoo in the world. This would be a tragedy of indescribable proportions. Founded as an institution of scientific research, ZSL has always been at the forefront of new programmes of public education, conservation, breeding and animal welfare. Above all, ZSL pioneered new ways of taking animals out of bleak, functional cages and putting them into more natural surroundings. Opening a country branch at Whipsnade (1931) was not only good business-it was humane. Such environments are now de riguer in zoos whether urban or rural and of course led to the development of wildlife parks where animals roam nearly free.
Every zoo we have visited, from San Diego to Regents Park, is an education-in nature, architecture and humanity(they’re great for people watching). Being in England, we naturally put our local people below. But wherever you read this, please think of a donation for your local Zoological gardens. Because your grandchildren will thank you for it.
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