Wednesday, September 05, 2007

So Sad!

At a local Six Flags, Discovery Kingdom (previously Marine World), a 2 year old giraffe died last night! There was a fire in the giraffe barn and one of the giraffes didn't have access to the outside pen and was trapped. They say he was overcome by smoke.

This brings up something in me that I have struggled with much of my life. I used to LOVE animal parks and zoos. I had the dream to be a whale/dolphin trainer. I researched the career, I figured out what school I wanted to go to, and where I wanted to intern at, and also wanted to get my Marine Biology degree to increase my knowledge. I started volunteering 2 nights a week at the Marine Mammal Center mainly working with Elephant Seals, CA Sea Lions, and Harbor Seals. That was when I was seriously considering becoming an Animal Health Technician (Vet Assistant) with a specialty in large animals. At the center I worked with the Vet from Marine World and was given the opportunity to intern there, so get more large animal experience. And this was about when I was stricken by my distaste for keeping animals captive for the main purpose of entertaining people.

Oh sure, there is always the point of education, and studying the animals, and I truly do believe that some of these parks are half-heartedly living up to that, but I am sure not all of them are. I don't know, maybe I was too effected by Free Willy, but every time I do go to one of these animal parks, I inevitably will cry at some point during my visit. Partly for the animals and partly for me not following my dreams.

So yes, I still go to these parks, but in the last few years I have only gone when my radio station is hosting a special listeners day, so I don't actually pay to get in. I do pay for food though, and I realize I am totally being hypocritical, so this is why I'm torn. I enjoy these parks, but I don't know if they are really a good thing.

The local park we have here is especially bad though. Originally, Marine World Africa USA (as it was named before it moved), was a rather large animal park with mainly only animals. There were some small kiddie rides, and games but that was it. It really did seem to be more about the animals. But then the park lost their lease on the land and moved to a smaller location, they lost the Africa USA part of the name, but still had some of the non-marine animals. The new park wasn't nearly as grand, and within a few years it started struggling. And then Six Flags came in to save the day. They expanded the park into the parking lot to add huge roller coasters, and started adding in rides in any little area they could find. The animals started showing stress, and getting sick, and the energy of the park completely changed. The giraffe area always particularly upset me, because it was really small and pretty bare.

I still really struggle with how I feel about zoos and animal parks. Perhaps I need to go back to volunteering to ease some of my guilt.


C said...

Oh my gosh! That is sad! I feel the same way as you do. As a young child, I loved going to the zoo, but after the age of 10 when I was an avid reader (and had an aunt who was really into animal rights and environmental awareness, and other forms of activism), I decided I wasn't much of a fan anymore.

Though I'm sure many zoos and animal parks take VERY good care of their animals, I can't help but feel like an animals place is in their own environment. I'm totally not dissing zoos or animal parks at all here. I know in many places the animals are well taken care of. I'm just being opinionated here :) LOL!

On a sort of different topic, there have been black bear sightings in our neighbourood in the past few weeks. Mind you, we live in the country, but still! Our friend said he tried to shoot a bear the other day because it was in his front yard (and they have a 4 yr old daughter). I couldn't help but feel sorry for the bear though. I know that human life and human safety is the priority here, but you can't blame the bears for trying to find food too. I mean, it's humans that have encroached on the bear's environment...

LOL! Okay, I'm done :) I'll shuddup now! ;)

Great post, Cherry! I always love coming to check out what you're up to!

Gina said...

I feel torn as well, because we the people of the earth keep destroying their habitats, and it seems that sooner rather than later, we will push them all into extinction. And then there will be nothing left but those in the zoo.

ML said...

Poor animals! It's hard to see them put in a position like that.

J at said...

I loved Marine World when it was in Redwood City. I got picked out of the audience to pet a Cheetah once. :) That was frikkin' AWESOME!

I hate it now. The rides are so loud, and just seem wrong for those poor animals. :(

Zoos are depressing, esp. the SF Zoo, though they have been trying pretty hard to fix it and make it better. I like the Oakland zoo much better...big enclosures for the animals, more room to move around.

It's sad to think, like C mentioned, that some zoos are the safest place for an animal to be. Not because of natural preditors in the wild, but because of poaching, or because of human encroachment on their land.

I love giraffes, and I was sad to hear that this young one died. Muh.

py korry said...

I think when it was Marine World, it was a pretty good park, but when it became an amusement park with rides and all the trappings, it seemed like it was a more horrible place for the animals. It probably isn't, but it just seems that way to me.

Ginger said...

Now for a little amusement imagine a world ruled by animals who on Sundays go to the "Human Park" to watch the humans in their "natural enviornment".

Autumn's Mom said...

I was gonna write about this yesterday, but it was too depressing. I love the giraffes.

laluna said...

I am amazed at all the stuff you have done. That is truely cool. The story about the giraffe made me cry. There is a huge place in my heart for animals, I hate when people jump in and capitalize on them just for the almighty dollar.

Anonymous said...

It's really a mixed bag with zoos and the level of care they provide their animals. I'm happy that more zoos are changing their exhibits to be closer the the natural setting for the various animals. Here's a story about a zoo that is taking special consideration for it's older residents.