“Recently, for reasons too odd to explain, I visited London zoo without intending to. I don’t go to zoos nowadays. I was quickly reminded why.
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of glass, sitting with her back to us, was an adult western lowland gorilla. She was impossibly huge, almost too black and beautiful to be real. She resolutely refused to meet the public gaze. She looked straight ahead, into the simulacrum of a rainforest with which she had been provided. Disturbed by the sight, I took one look and left. …”
“As the French philosopher of science and artist Chris Herzfeld notes in her new book, Wattana: An Orangutan in Paris, animals such as primates “show considerable goodwill in collaborating with humans”. We expect animals to act like us, as if they should be grateful for the fact that we’ve saved them, when we’re responsible for their peril in the first place. The zoo is a love-hate relationship. We owe our childhood love of animals to these places, yet as adults we know how cruel they can be. Zoos have played their part in the bridge of understanding between us and the rest of creation. Perhaps their time, like that of animal circuses and Bedlam, has been and gone.”
In between there is much food for thought about our relationship with animals, and the roles, if any, that zoos might have in this. Much, also, about issues and arguments in relation to education. Whatever you end up thinking about the tenor of the article, it is certainly usefully provocative.