Sunday, July 22, 2012

Octopus Coming to Syracuse Zoo

Yesterday there was an article in the Post Standard about the Rosamond Gifford Zoo getting an octopus.  There is nothing more depressing than a zoo getting a new animal.  I am always shocked by how many intelligent people think that zoos are great. That zoos are helping animals and providing a service to the public.  I'm sure that there are some facilities that do this, but my guess is that they are called wildlife preserves and not zoos.

In the article, the zoo representatives stress that they are planning on getting a large octopus, much larger than could naturally grow in captivity.  They are building the aquarium now to accommodate the octopus and then will have a trapper go hunt one down for them.  The octopus will be female because they seem to live longer in captivity than the males.  Octopi in general do not live very long so at best they are looking at getting 2-3 years out of this octopus.  But they will catch another octopus before the first one dies and keep it in a smaller "holding tank".  That way when they other one dies they can just move the other one in.  What a disgusting business.

What is the purpose of a zoo?  I don't need to you catch a lion and put it in a cage for me to believe that lions exist.  If I want to see a lion then I will to go on safari to Africa and see one in its natural habitat.  My need to see an animal up close does not trump that animal's right to live its life in peace.  What is the educational value of seeing a bunch of wild animals locked in cages that in no way compare to their natural habitat?  Why do we have penguins in upstate NY? 

Turn on the National Geographic Channel.  Buy a nature magazine.  Go to the Internet or the library.  Every year there is at least one story about an animal that died in captivity.  There is generally proof that the zoo did not properly care for the animal.  These stories are always played down in the media and immediately replaced with the story of the cute fuzzy animal that they have gotten to replace it.  I'm not talking about these animals not being fed or being beaten, although that unfortunately happens as well.  It's usually very obvious things like the habitat being too small, not mimicking the natural environment enough, the wrong type of food, no outlet for their primal instincts or the stress of having unnatural predators so close by. 

The people that enjoy the zoo are generally the same people that love going to the pet store to see all the cute puppies and kitties.  They argue that these aren't they animals from puppy mills because they are so clean and cute.  Then they go to the state fair to see the bear that lives his life in a trailer or to the circus to see the elephant that lives his life in a tent.  I don't know how humans formed this ridiculous obsession with trapping animals for the simple pleasure of watching them.  We have televisions and computers people.   

Every once in a while a wild animal gives in to its instincts and escapes from its cage and/or kills one of the handlers.  The animal is then shot to death and replaced with another fuzzy animal because clearly, that animal was in the wrong.  I know this is a losing battle.  Every time I tell people I hate the zoo/circus/fair they act like I am from another planet.  Maybe I am because none of this makes any sense to me and it seems to get worse every day.