Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Beijing Zoo

Over the fall holiday, esther and i went to the Beijing Zoo and Aquarium. I generally like zoo's and being an avid diver, my love for aquariums has grown over the years. Chicago has the Shedd Aquariums, one of the top in the world. Meanwhile, my dad has been volunteering at Brookfield Zoo in Chicago for, i dunno, 12 years? 15 years? A long time. I've been so many times i couldn't even fathom a count.

People are divided on the ethical dilemma of zoos, capturing animals from the wild, caging them, and putting them on display. I too am conflicted, but there are some positives of course. There are injured animals who simply would not survive in the wild. There are endangered species being bred and released. There are obvious benefits to educating kids (and adults) about the beauty in the world, and that that the world is worth taking care of.

Clearly, animals in zoos need to be properly cared for, allowed to interact with each other if they are social, protected from being traumatized by the park visitors. Unfortunately, i fear that the Beijing Zoo misses the mark.

I apologize for the upcoming rant, but i need to get this out. I don't know what it is about the Chinese. Sometimes i feel like they just lack common sense or empathy or the ability to act with decent judgement. I know that's harsh and a massive generalization, but the people going to the Beijing Zoo didn't do the rest of the population any favors. A few of the atrocities i saw:
  • Parents allowing their kids to feed zebras leaves, sticks and candy, directly in front of " No Feeding" signs. This is actually really dangerous and stupid. I'm sure a wild zebra would have no problem taking off a child's hand with that candy bar.
  • Children climbing on an aquarium exhibit and posing for their parents to take a picture... directly in front of "No Photos No Climbing" signs. (yeah, i technically broke the rules with my photo, but i didn't use flash and was standing way back from the exhibit.)
  • A few grown women pounding with their fists on the glass of a Gorilla exhibit. The Gorilla in question had his face pressed against the glass already but was unphased. I assume this means it was already numb to this behavior by now.
  • People throwing food or garbage into the monkey cages, despite the clearly placed "No Feeding" signs. In their defense, there weren't any "No Littering" signs.

If my dad witnessed this at Brookfield Zoo, he would immediately reprimand the person or contact the authorities and have them thrown out, depending on the severity. However, i never saw any guards or zookeepers looking out for the animals' well-being. At the zebra exhibit, i stood next to one of the signs and asked a parent to "help me read this, because my Chinese isn't so good." She was much more interested in my ability to speak Chinese than what the sign said.

Humph. That poor gorilla. Ok, rant complete.

The Zoo actually had a pretty good assortment of animals. The monkey areas are an obvious delight, what with their climbing, antics, and general peoplefulness. Other highlights were the elephants, tigers, and giant pandas.

The aquarium's best exhibit was probably the jellyfish. Freakin' awesome stuff, and they allowed pictures. They also had a massive coral life tank with all the awesome fish i'm used to diving with, which was neat, but nothing compared to actual diving. The jellyfish win.

In conclusion, c'mon people! Quit acting like spoiled children and grow up!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What did Esther think?