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.
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)