A bit of a sad post today. Before I discuss anything, I’ll let you look at two photos below. Please click on each to view them in higher quality.

Bored (NIKON D5100 1/640--f/5.6 200mm)
Bored (NIKON D5100 1/640–f/5.6 200mm)
Caged (NIKON D5100 1/1250--f/5.6 175mm)
Caged (NIKON D5100 1/1250–f/5.6 175mm)

The first is an Orangutan from the Singapore Zoo. The second is a Galah from a wildlife park not too far away from here. I think the photos speak largely for themselves, but I want to add a few thoughts of my own.

I feel sad when I see captive animals. I understand that zoos and nature parks serve multiple purposes, including species preservation and education, but I cannot help feeling sad knowing that human actions result in this type of captivity. The great apes make me the saddest of all; intelligent creatures clearly bored and sitting around in the harsh Aussie summer heat. Have you ever seen a Polar Bear struggling in the South Australian heat? It’s not pretty.

It seems to me that many animals in these situations are simply there for our entertainment. I don’t question the need to help preserve the Tapier or the Golden  Tamarin, but is it necessary to cage abundant creatures like Cockatoos and Camels? I can only think that they are there for the profit of the owners of such wildlife parks.

Like many people, we had pets growing up. In fact, we had a Galah we called Cocky. He was in a cage for just about his entire life. As a child, I felt melancholy whenever I saw him outside, but didn’t understand exactly why until I was a bit older.

Many years ago, Cocky would scrape his beak on the metal bars of his cage whenever my father was outside sawing a piece of wood in half. Dad would laugh and try to make him talk. Cocky would make noises eagerly, and every so often he’d hiss something almost intelligible. I found it less funny as I got older. I went out to see him less and less because I couldn’t bear to see this creature trapped behind his bars.

One morning we found Cocky cold, dead and stiff on the bottom of his cage. I’m not sure what Dad did with him, but I do hope he buried him alongside our other pets. It’s not uncommon for people to throw dead birds into the bin without ceremony, as if they mean less than our cats and dogs. I even remember burying a long dead Sparrow when I was a kid! It seemed wrong not to do so.

To this day, I cannot bear to see a caged bird. Cocky might have had a pretty sad life in that cage out in the backyard, but his life had a big impact on me. I am reminded of William Blake’s wise words:

A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage.
(Auguries of Innocence)

 

Photo Story : Our Captives
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15 thoughts on “Photo Story : Our Captives

  • January 22, 2015 at 7:43 pm
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    Well said. And very powerful photos, too.

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    • January 23, 2015 at 3:09 am
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      Thank you Svetlana.

      Reply
  • January 12, 2015 at 7:51 pm
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    Amazing shots Steve … There is a sad pleading look that you have captured in the eyes of these beautiful animals. Tugs at the heartstrings.

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    • January 13, 2015 at 2:36 pm
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      Thanks Yolanda. It made me sad as I was writing it 🙁

      Reply
  • January 11, 2015 at 5:24 pm
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    I am glad you mentioned clicking to make the images bigger. These are powerful photos. Your choice of poem, which happens to be from one of my favorite poets, is so appropriate. I think this blog page would be even more stunning with just the enlarged photo of the Galah and the poem in large letters underneath it. The way you captured the shadow of the bars going across the head is perfect. Studying your Galah picture some more, I see an expression of accusation in his (her) eyes. Saying, “why have you put me here?”

    The orangutan photo complements the idea perfectly.

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    • January 12, 2015 at 7:20 am
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      Yes, maybe I should mention it more often? I kind of just assume that people will click, but could be good to make it more obvious. Thank you for saying such things. I agree with you, and maybe I’ll post it like that at some point in the near future. But there’s me being verbose again due to being a writer at heart! I can’t help it you see 🙂
      Yes, it was just one of those photos. I actually didn’t think a lot of it when I made it, but looking at it on the screen much later in black and white, it jumped right out at me.

      Reply
  • January 10, 2015 at 11:56 pm
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    I have a hard time with circuses that use animals or zoos… but, as you say, sometimes they do good saving endangered species. I don’t eat four-legged animals but I do eat a little chicken…. although I try to keep it to pasture-raised, or at least cage-free, whenever possible. Most people don’t want to know how their steaks and hamburgers arrived on their plates!

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    • January 11, 2015 at 1:28 pm
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      It’s very true that most people would stop eating meat altogether if they knew of the practices of the worldwide meat industry. I won’t pretend that I don’t eat meat though. There was a period when I was vegetarian, and I could do it again. I have more of an issue with the industrial scale of the meat industry than with individual meat eaters. The essence of the issue is that our modern lives are far removed from the primary source of all food, and it has produced in us an apathy. What’s the answer? I don’t know. Thanks for your comment 🙂

      Reply
  • December 31, 2014 at 7:20 pm
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    Oh wow Steve what a story and haven’t we in our lives witnessed some sad things? Since you travel I am sure you see them all over.
    I have vivid visuals in my mind but no actual pictures of such things that happen to animals. I grew up in a family of men that hunted and while they did this to put food on the table as a small child it is hard to witness large animals hanging from the rafters and then later preparing a meal with what I considered sacrifices for our food. I do not like game or any type of meat because of it. It is hard to witness although I do realize they had to do this to feed their large families still it is hard to make peace with this. I’m thankful now that I can choose my own type of foods.
    Blessing to you in 2015! (✿◠‿◠✿)MichelleMarie

    Reply
    • January 1, 2015 at 12:43 am
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      Take the example of the meat industry. This is a large scale food processing industry that raises and slaughters cattle and other animals on a huge scale in order to feed millions of people worldwide. The meat is packaged up and sold in supermarkets, and we’ve completely lost touch with where the food actually comes from. If most people had any idea of the actual processes involved in raising those animals to be slaughtered for us, they’d likely be off meat for life. I am troubled by this.

      Reply
  • December 17, 2014 at 10:10 pm
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    Your welcome my friend”)

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  • December 17, 2014 at 2:47 pm
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    Your right it is a sad story, and I feel the same as you.. great article my friend

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    • December 17, 2014 at 10:11 pm
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      Thank you Tammy.

      Reply
  • December 17, 2014 at 2:40 pm
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    Steve, I have many thoughts on your poignant story. I’m traveling now, but will return to give this an adequate reply.
    Love you, Cynthia •~♡

    Reply
    • December 17, 2014 at 2:41 pm
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      Thank you. I look forward.

      Reply

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