“Someone told me…it’s all happening at the zoo. I do believe it, I do believe it’s true.” – Simon & Garfunkel
The first few words from that iconic 1966 Simon & Garfunkel song, At the Zoo. After a short visit to the Sacramento Zoo lately, I’m not at all that sure “it’s true” any longer.
First off, let me say this. We have been contemplating a day at the zoo for quite some time, it finally happened the other day. Our days off coincided, the weather had cooled down, and we jumped in the Cooper and made the 75 mile trek north up Highway 5 towards Sacramento. At least we committed and got out of the house for a few hours. Done deal.
Besides just having the opportunity to get out for a while, I was looking forward to using a new camera and getting some shots at the zoo. After all, it is the ZOO – a ready-made photo opp, right? Not necessarily. More on that in a moment.
To be perfectly honest at this point, I must admit that I am tainted, spoiled rotten from years of going to the only zoo I knew: the San Diego Zoo. An unfair comparison perhaps? Perhaps. And, admittedly, my attitude toward zoos in general may have changed over time. What? Yes! I’m not sure zoos are the right thing to do to wild animals! Especially less than stellar zoos, like, well, the Sacramento Zoo. Now, before I get accused of being a panda-hugging bleeding heart liberal, let me explain and give credit where credit is due. The Sacramento Zoo is a relatively well-maintained, clean attraction. They seem to do a pretty good job of sequestering their wild animals in their tiny, little enclosures. The cages were, for the most part, well kept. Again, please try not to compare me to Jeff Goldblum’s character (Ian Malcomb) in Jurassic Park…I’m not anywhere near that fanatical but I do subscribe somewhat to the “chaos theory”. More on that at a later date. Bear with me, as there will be at least one other reference to Jurassic Park a bit later!
Compared to a nice little zoo like the Sacramento Zoo, one could cite many heinous examples of animal cruelty in the news. Makeshift, privately-owned wild animal compounds need to be more tightly regulated or outlawed completely in my opinion. There have been some crazy stories coming out in the past few years. For instance, “family pet” chimpanzees tearing neighbor’s faces off!
Zoos have been around for hundreds of years. And in these modern times they are well regulated and taken care of. I didn’t see any examples of less than proper housing at the Sacramento Zoo. But here’s my point in the form of a question, to which, by the way, I don’t have an answer: Should wild animals be caged? On the positive side, these animals are well-fed, safe from predators, and reside under the watchful eyes of veterinarians. When a tiger has a toothache, it goes to the dentist. When a giraffe as an abscess on it’s hoof, the doc takes care of it. When a lemur appears tired and slow, it’s given vitamin enriched food. Get the picture?
There was a young, male lion walking around its enclosure. An area maybe 60 feet square by the way. He was near the back wall as I watched him lick the water dripping from a hose bib. I’m certain there was a water supply for him back in the cage area, but this action just seemed so undignified for a lion.
As we moved down the row of African animal enclosures, here was the Hyena compound.
…and the Snow Leopard compound.
Both no-shows this day along with the orangutans and several others. I neglected to get photos of their empty cages. One grandfather type explained to his grandkids when they questioned, “Where is it?” To which the grandfather replied, “See that cave looking thing way back up there? It’s sleeping in the cave. See?” “No, I don’t!” Another line from Jurassic Park, “Ah…at some point, Dr. Hammond, we will see dinosaurs, right?”
We did see some forlorn looking chimps out for a stroll in their cage. Does this guy look happy to you?
Loretta and I chuckled out loud when a young boy commented about one of the chimps, “Look at his butt!” I must admit, the south end of a northbound chimpanzee leaves a lot to be desired in the eyes of a child. Sorry, no photos were taken of the chimps butt!
One of the high points of the Sacramento Zoo in my opinion is the relatively new Tall Wonder exhibit where can get an up close and personal look at one of my favorite animals: the giraffe. They were out and about and very majestic looking in their new habitat.
Giraffes are exquisite creatures and seeing them was worth the price of admission.
Alas, back to a comparison of “greater” zoos…no elephants, no rhinos, no gazelles, no hippos, no gorillas, no cheetahs, no aquatic animals, no birds of prey, no bird or other animal shows, no rain forest animals, and no meerkats…just to name a few.
I did manage to get a few shots…
So, I would recommend taking your kids to the zoo. Try to teach them a little about conservation and extinction, etc. I’m not sure I have the answer to the zoo or no zoo question. I just know that it’s not always “happening at the zoo”…not every zoo anyway.