As parents, we innocently intend to share the magic of wild animals through family excursions to marine parks or zoos.
I have personally struggled with the choice to go to the zoo ‘just once’ for my nephews to see a ‘real live elephant!’ I weighed the benefits (education, fostering an interest in wildlife, a full day of outdoor exercise) against my uneasy instinct that something just does not feel right, for me, about viewing animals out of their natural habitat.
Would only one visit really make any difference?
After a friend, of whom animal welfare issues are furthest from her mind, returned from Africa last week, she declared that she will never patronize a zoo again after seeing animals truly free. They carried an air of majestic ease that, in retrospect, she recalls as lacking in captive animals, particularly animals trained for shows. She says she had never truly ‘seen’ a wild animal before, despite her many visits to circuses, zoos and aquariums in the past.
Will my children really be seeing that zoo elephant as the glorious creature it is, or rather a far-removed distant version of it?