The Zoo and My Flexible Morals

Last weekend my wife and I set aside moral objections to keeping animals in cages and took our daughter to the zoo.

I was surprised how easy it was to make the decision. Perhaps because my wife and daughter had already visited the Vancouver Aquarium a few months ago, and, after doing a bit of research on that facility, I decided that the work they do is actually a bit more important and significant than just providing amusement for people. Besides, my daughter has this thing for Beluga whales and, barring an unexpected trip to Nunavut, probably won’t be able to see any in the wild for quite some time, long after she has outgrown her Beluga whale phase. So, when I planned the trip to the Vancouver Zoo last weekend, I naively envisioned an organization run with the same type of environmental integrity as the aquarium.

The visit was okay – there was only one animal that I thought might be a bit uncomfortable. A brown bear that seemed to me to be in a fairly small area, but the sign on the pen said it was a temporary facility and a new one was to be completed very soon.

All in all, though, I felt good about the trip and the zoo. The Girl had a good time and can’t stop talking about the nursing baby Wallaby she saw.

Which is why I feel doubly sick after reading in the paper this morning that the Vancouver Zoo – the zoo I so happily gave my money to 4 days ago – has become the first zoo in Canada to be charged with cruelty to animals.

Yep – not feeling so good about our family trip now.

2 responses to “The Zoo and My Flexible Morals

  1. I have the same issue. I mean, essentially what we’re doing is sacrificing the freedom of a “few” animals for the good of the rest. I know I learned so much about animals from zoos and thus care more for animals and wildlife than I ever would’ve without it. I am raising my Okapis with that kind of awareness, that kind of excitement about animals, that kind of love and desire to protect animals.

    Morally it is very difficult, but maybe it is a necessity.

  2. yeah, zoos can be depressing, though most are better than in the past.

    But you definitely want to stay away from circuses. We went to one when the kids were little and it was the most depressing and heart-rending event I’ve ever been too (apart from a friend’s b’day party where we all started throwing cake at each other and then his mother started crying… but that’s a story for another day).