Phoenix Zoo

I have very mixed feelings about zoos. I enjoy going to them, at least the really good ones, but at the same time I find them rather sad in many ways.

I had these feelings again while walking through the Phoenix zoo recently.

I know all of the arguments that are made about the values of zoos for species preservation (in some cases) and the importance of educating the public to wildlife issues around the world and it is fun to see the enjoyment that the young kids get in watching the various animals.

But there is a sadness in seeing some of these animals confined to small quarters, more akin to a prison cell than living space.

I feel this particularly when I see the great soaring birds such as vultures and the hawks and eagles, who even in the best of zoo habitats are limited to roosting.

I had the same feeling with the orangutans in the Phoenix zoo, who are housed in a pit with a tiered structure in the centre while the paying customers lean on the railing above them and point and talk. The one good thing in Phoenix is that they are in the process of building a new habitat for the orangutans which hopefully will be a major improvement. (Now the Seattle zoo has a great setup for their orangutan group as they do for most of the species on site).

On the other hand I have no problem with seeing grazing animals behind the fence – provided they have some space – as I figure they’re happy just to have food and not be chased by predators.

Double standard?


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4 Responses to “Phoenix Zoo”

  1. YLN Says:

    Can’t speak for Phoenix, but over here we have a good number of raptors who, due to a variety of mishaps, lack the requisite number of eyes, wings, etc to make it in the wild.

    Your comment about the double standard reminds me of Denis Leary’s rant about the animals and the double standard between the otter (“I swim around on my back and do cute little human things with my hands!” “Ok, you’re free to go.”) and the cow (“Get on the effin’ truck OK pal?” “But I’m an animal!” “You’re a baseball glove. Get on that truck!”)

  2. Allen Nyhuis Says:

    I would urge you not to have any “mixed feelings” about zoos. Be thankful for them. They are saving endangered animals from going extinct. For example, the next time you see a buffalo (bison), thank the world of zoos. They would already be gone — except for the efforts of America’s zoos. Unless you are talking about a shabby unregulated roadside zoo, most of America’s best zoos are terrific — they are more like “animal resorts” than “animal prisons”.

    Allen Nyhuis, Coauthor: America’s Best Zoos

    • totalrecoil Says:

      I can’t say that I have seen a lot of zoos around the country, so I can’t make any reasonable over-arching comment on how good or bad they are. I was impressed with the Seattle zoo, even though in some cases we couldn’t see the animals in question – the lion enclosure comes to mind – but we knew they were there. Phoenix had some some decent set-ups but many were pretty sad. I really haven’t seen a good elephant enclosure, including Seattle’s. I went to the Calgary zoo years ago, when they had a Panda on display. ‘Display’ is the proper word. He/she was sitting in a bare room on a concrete floor with some bamboo shoots stacked beside him/her. It was rather ugly. I’m not against zoos by any means, but a good one needs a lot of ground and considerable intelligent thought put into the design. And money.

  3. Lee Sibleyham Says:

    Allen Nyhuis is a bloody bastard son of a bitch. If you meet him, kick the scoundrel’s balls, so that he does not have any mixed feelings on what you think of him.

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