Post comments after visiting the zoo and reading the two articles
Looking back at my visit at Como Zoo today I see myself falling into the category more relatable to Yann Martel’s article. Whenever I go to a zoo I love seeing all of the various kinds of animals and learning something new about each of them. I like to think that the zoo staff is creating the best possible environment for the animals to live in and making it as close to their natural habitats as possible. However, I cannot imagine that the animals habitats are better in a zoo rather than outside in their native environments. Sure the animals no longer have to hunt for their own food or clean their own dens, but isn’t that taking away their natural freedoms and actions? I cannot imagine someone feeding me 24/7 and bathing me whenever need. I like having my own freedom to do my own thing and I believe animals do too. That is where I do agree somewhat with Dale Jamieson who is against keeping animals locked up in zoos. I specifically enjoyed his quote which stated, “We learn to live as one species among many rather than as one species over many”. We, as humans, find ourselves superior to all other species whereas we need to think of them as our equals. Jenna
After reading bot of these articles, and visiting Como Zoo today, I can fairly say that I am split between the argument for the preservation of zoos. Both Martel and Jamieson put up very good points to each side of this argument. I agree with Jamieson in many ways when he talks about zoos being an unnatural occurrence, and in them having more flaws than attributes. But it's hard to debate Martel when she discuses the physiological state in which the animals preside inside of zoos. She has the first hand experience of growing up in a zoo, so she has a good idea of what to interpret from the animals. To me, I believe that zoos should be in existence, although maybe just in a different form. Jamieson talked a lot about the death of many creatures, and this is very disappointing, but maybe we could avoid this issue all together. What if we set up all zoos like some sort of vast safari. That way, it would be a far more natural environment for the animals, they would still have the feeling of a "home", and we could possibly preserve them far more efficiently. If we went about things this way, it would also eliminate the perspective that humans create in going to zoos; where we put ourselves above all other animals, because they are just spectacles in cages for our amusement. It truly is a difficult issue to debate, and there are substantial arguments to both sides. Like I said, I am split down the middle.
Who doesn’t love a trip to a zoo? Gazing upon seals gliding across the water, monkeys swinging from branch to branch, or even a mountain lion pacing back and forth pouncing on its prey there is excitement around every corner. I especially love the zoo because it gives me the opportunity to gape upon species that I might never visit in the wild and simply watch their habits. Actually since I want to study pre vet, I am biased because I dream about working in a zoo. However, even being an animal lover I have never looked at the zoo in a negative light. After reading Dale Jamieson’s article I was taking back a little bit. Yes, I have to agree they don’t educate you as much as you would think. There are plaques by the animals allotting information about the species, but a lot of people bypass the signs and just gaze upon the species in the cage. As a visitor, we have a duty to desire to want to be educated. Nevertheless, I did see several workers answering questions and educating the public. Thus, as for entertainment I find the zoo catering to the public’s interests. But, that’s specifically so they can keep their facilities running and the animals healthy. Jamieson writes, “Zoos teach us a false sense of our place in the natural order” however I disagree I think he is taking it too far. I think the zoo is an escape for the everyday city goers to experience nature in an easily accessible way. Yes, it’s not completely natural and doesn’t make you a genius when you exit the zoo, but I think zoos are necessary. -Liz
Zoos have always been an experience i looked forward to as a child. I loved seeing animals that i had not ever gotten the chance to see before. After going to Como zoo and seeing the animals today, i felt a little saddened. Como Zoo is run by donations. Knowing that fact i wonder if the animals are kept to A-class standard. While visiting the Zoo all i could think about was Jamieson's article. As a gazed at the polar bears, all i could think is should they really be here? In a warm cage that doesn't even reflect their natural habitat? I started agreeing with Jamieson, and that zoos are mainly for our entertainment. It saddened me to think that animals are stuck in cages for our pleasure. I hoped that there is more reasons. I thought that maybe Como Zoo is preserving the Polar Bear Species from extinction. At the zoo, there are many informational signs that educate everyone who reads them. Towards the end of my visit, i became stuck in the middle. Not knowing where i stood on zoos. Everyone loves going to zoos and seeing the animals, I just hope that the animals have a bigger purpose than just a form of entertainment.
As I find myself standing in awe at some of the magnificent sights of the Como Zoo it is hard not to consider some of the points brought up by Dale Jamieson. Animals in zoos are presumed to be somewhat happy by the general public, including myself. Although when I see these animals in real life, I am torn. I see monkeys playing around and seeming to be enjoying a fruitful life, similar to some of Yann Martel’s points. I want to believe all of the animals in there are loving their lives and not being deprived of happiness, but I cannot fully invest in the concept. I see some of the other animals such as the tiger, or the bears, and see that they are skinny and not full of energy. Now, this may be just their own personality, or it quite possibly could be a representation of their mood due to being in captivity. No matter what I am told there is no exact way of knowing due to the fact that we cannot enter the thoughts of an animal. As far as what Martel points out, I am still a believer in that concept, but I can’t be sold just yet that every animal is enjoying their time at the zoo.
As I find myself standing in awe at some of the magnificent sights of the Como Zoo it is hard not to consider some of the points brought up by Dale Jamieson. Animals in zoos are presumed to be somewhat happy by the general public, including myself. Although when I see these animals in real life, I am torn. I see monkeys playing around and seeming to be enjoying a fruitful life, similar to some of Yann Martel’s points. I want to believe all of the animals in there are loving their lives and not being deprived of happiness, but I cannot fully invest in the concept. I see some of the other animals such as the tiger, or the bears, and see that they are skinny and not full of energy. Now, this may be just their own personality, or it quite possibly could be a representation of their mood due to being in captivity. No matter what I am told there is no exact way of knowing due to the fact that we cannot enter the thoughts of an animal. As far as what Martel points out, I am still a believer in that concept, but I can’t be sold just yet that every animal is enjoying their time at the zoo. Derek
After reading the article by Jamieson, I felt like I definitely saw the Como Zoo as a much different place. Many people go to the zoo for fun, it is a source of entertainment for both the young and the elderly. But when I actually looked at the enclosures and at the animals, I found myself less in awe of them and felt pity for them. The enclosures seem so small for such majestic creatures. The larger animals also looked incredibly skinny which leads me to think that they are not being fed the proper amount. Como Zoo is run entirely off of donations so I am sure that that creates challenges for the zookeepers because they do not have the resources to treat these animals great. In some ways, I think that zoos are a great way for people to connect with animals and see them in their somewhat natural habitat. But are zoos for the good of the animals or for our entertainment? Alex
After reading both articles and working at Como Zoo I can say very confidently that I agree with The Life of Pi perspective that Zoos are in fact a positive and humane environment for even the wildest of animals.
The argument that Jamieson makes is that the animals are taken from their natural environment, locked in cages without their habitat and not allowed to behave the way the would normally in the wild. This is not the case anymore in any AZA(Association of Zoos and Aquariums)certified zoo. Most, if not all, the animals in our zoos today are rescue animals. Revived from the brink of death or born in the zoo. All the animals in the exhibits are also given weekly, and sometimes daily, enrichment. Enrichment is not a toy, it is a way to engage an animal's natural instincts, such as dexterity, critical thinking, smell, tracking, etc. This allows the animals to keep busy doing things they would normally do in the wild.
Although zoos were not always as scientifically apt as they are today, like the old cages at Como, rusted and barred, they have certainly progressed significantly.
I really appreciated the innocence that Life of Pi brought to the zoo atmosphere, the natural feeling of being surrounded by hundreds of species of exotic animals is certainly exhilarating.
However there are definitely exhibits in zoos around the U.S. that could use a bit of a face lift. For example, Sparky and her mother's pool is quite small. The zoo keepers wish to enlarge it and add a more natural landscape to it. Alas this is quite expensive and will come when enough donations come through. I am very excited for the Gorilla forest opening in the next few years, they plan to add waterfalls and a spacious forested area for the Great Apes.
All in all I am a firm believer in zoos around the U.S. and especially Como Zoo, they are constantly looking out for the well-being of the animals and adhere to their many needs. I liked reading about Pi growing up in a zoo and I think that the benefits of a zoo, such as education, preservation and amusement far outweigh the disadvantages like animals in captivity.
After visiting como zoo and reading the two articles, I think both writers have some valid points however believe Jamieson made some assumptions that were a bit of a stretch. He wrote from an animal rights perspective and didn't tie in any personal relation to working with animals that could have made his work more persuading. I believe that he undervalued the importance of entertainment and education by zoos because they are often times people's only real up close connection to animals and if that is taken from them, they will loose their connection to wild animals and fail to see the importance of protecting them. Many of the instances that Jamieson referred to where the animals care was neglected was quite a few years ago and since then much has been learned about the necessities of these animals. However I believe he was correct in saying that there are instances where the environment for the animals is lacking zoos do work to continuously improve their animal's environment. He also assumes that the animals want to be free which contradicts what Martel wrote. This is a hard issue to debate but from working with animals I would probably agree with Martel. When animals are properly cared for in a confined environment, they are very content. The main way to determine the stress, and therefore discontent of an animal is to measure their hormone levels, and when their routine and environment are kept constant, they are much more relaxed and are under less stress. I have also seen my self where animals escape their confined home, but quickly return when they are frightened or feel in danger due to the different environment. But for this too be true, animals must be properly cared for and zoo staff must use the best management practices that are available to them in working with the animals.
After visiting the Como Zoo, reading both articles and thinking about past visits to other zoos, I would have to agree with the argument The Life of Pi. I have never personally seen animals at a zoo that are mistreated or in danger. A lot of times when people see the animals they say things like “They all look so bored” or “It looks so lonely in there by itself.” This is trivial to say about the animals if you think about the normal habits of the species in the wild. Most animals are calmer during the day, and like Yan Martel said, they come to life in the early morning and at dusk when we usually aren’t observing them. As far as the animals that are “lonely” they are usually animals that are solitaire in their natural environment and probably wouldn’t be very happy if they had two or three other critters invading their domain.
I think that people need to consider that living in the wild is not easy for the animals that are out there. Most of them don’t live very long because they become slower and older than the rest of the pack and as the weakest link, they usually get picked off or are unable to defend themselves. When they live in captivity they are taken care of and always have proper medical attention and meal plans made just for them. They don’t have to be concerned about predators hunting them down or even the potential of something destroying the environment that they live in. The Como Zoo currently has a female polar bear that was removed from Duluth this summer after the zoo was flooded out and she didn’t have a place to be. The good thing for her is that since she was part of a zoo, they were immediately able to find a new place for her that would be safe and similar to her old home. If something like that were to happen in the wild, she would be left to wander and struggle until she either were able to find a different habitation or just to give up and make do with what was around her.
Visiting the zoo was a nostalgic experience for me. The last time I can remember going to Como Zoo I was nothing but a tyke. Since that time I have been to many other zoos; and seeing the contrast between the upkeep of these renowned zoos and Como was staggering. Zoos such as the Montgomery Zoo in Alabama, and the Brookfield Zoo of Chicago are so divine in contrast to the Como Zoo. The level of upkeep in the zoo, I believe, transfers directly to the happiness of the animals inside the zoo. I felt that the animals in Como seemed sluggish and uninterested in people and visitors. I am not aware if this was unique to Thursday or if that is an ongoing trend, but in general both of my visits to the other zoos the animals were very responsive and loving to visitors. I believe this directly correlates to the way we treat the animals. It is relative to the sowing and reaping complex, if you put in love and caring towards the animals you will see love and caring from them towards other people. So this is what we must strive for, loving towards animals to receive a blessing from them of love and respect towards their visitors. It is all a circular system and I hope to see this practice in many zoos from here on out. Braden
I have been to Como Zoo numerous times, yet this last time was quite the different experience. I was able to walk around the zoo with both Nick and Emily. Emily has worked at Como Zoo for two years and she was able to give us so many interesting facts on every single animal. She knew every animal by name, knew what their personalities were like, and knew almost every answer to the questions Nick and I would ask her. I honestly learned more information about the animals on this visit than any other time. Emily explained to us that ever animal has time with a trainer to go through daily enrichment. The enrichment helps the animal with their instincts. We saw this in the Gorilla exhibit. The Gorilla was taught to copy the trainers drawings on the windows with shaving cream. The Gorillas did just that, they copied the exact drawings of the trainer. I honestly thought that was so neat. I didn't believe that the trainers did that much with each and every animal, but they actually do. Which is why I would have to say that I agree to having zoos. In the article, "The life of Pi", he describes zoos as a save place for the animals. Zoos offer food, enrichment and the security of a home. It's exactly what every human being wants in life as well. Animals are treated with such respect and dignity in the zoos. They are always taken care of, fed properly, and usually have a clean cage to call home. However, I do believe that the environment that zoos provide for the animals aren't quite up to date. Many of the animals live in such tight quarters. The seals for example were swimming in a pool that was not even 5ft in length. Honestly, that is pretty sad. I believe that if we update the Zoos by giving animals larger exhibits it would just provide a happy, safe home for the animals. We always need to love and care for the animals and the zoos do just that. - Sarah
When I read Dale Jamison's article "Against Zoos" it really made me think about all the times i've gone to como zoo for pure recreation and fun. But what is fun about looking at animals that have been ripped from their original habitats and brought to a sort of synthetic, man-made place to be obnoxiously observed? Jamison makes the point that there are positives to zoos, including easier observation by scientists and researchers, and a source of money for those researchers, but in return what is this doing for the animals themselves?
On the other hand, however, I agree with Yann Martel in many ways as well. He speaks of the zoo he went to as a child as heaven on earth. A zoo can provide pure joy and love to someone. Animals have an intriguing way of being able to inspire people and if you took away a zoo you could take away someone's inspiration to their whole life.
This is a weird subject for me that I have never deeply thought about and now that i have heard perspectives of both sides I am very torn.
When I was younger zoos were always something I looked forward to and enjoyed visiting. I never fully understood the concept of these animals being caged up for our amusement. I just thought it was awesome to look at these animals that are considered “wild” and be able to see them up close and in person. Once I started to get a little older and understand that these animals are not in their natural habitats, I became less of a fan of zoos. The Como Zoo in particular is run off of donations, so this saddens me to see these animals in environments that are not necessarily very well kept and clean. I read the article by Jamieson first and was completely against zoos, but immediately after that I read the article by Martel and was completely torn down the middle. I can see it from both points of view, and I believe that both articles make valid points. It just comes down to the fact of whether I feel the animals are more beneficial out in their natural habitat, or if they are benefitting more from being kept in a zoo. This is something that is hard to tell and actually probably depends on the type of animal and the specific zoo more than anything. Jamieson makes a great point when he says that we need to learn to live as one species among many rather than as one species over many. The zoos give us a “false sense of our place in the natural order”. I actually somewhat agree with this statement. We view it as socially acceptable to cage up animals and take care of them and put them on display for people’s amusement. Why? I would like to think that zoos are in place for more than just people’s entertainment. - Kayla
I had a great time walking through the zoo with Emily and Sarah. I learned so much about the zoo because of Emily. She has worked at the zoo now for two years and we basically had a free tour of the zoo. Emily knew almost everything about the animals: such as their names, who were related, what type of animal they were, and their personalities. It was an enlightening experience for both Sarah and I. Emily told us stories about how the animals reacted to people sometimes. One time there was a couple of kids that were banging on the glass of the gorilla cage, the male gorilla did not like this at all so he went up to the glass and hit it so hard that it rattled the whole wall. The kids were scared shitless and so was Emily. Another thing that she told us about the animals is that the two sea lions that live inside only get to swim in that tiny pool of theirs. To me, it almost seems inhumane to keep them in there just to do shows for the people when there is a huge exhibit outside that they could live in. But all in all, I think this zoo is a pretty good zoo for the animals because I believe that all of the trainers live these animals dearly and take care of them very well.-Nick
I had a fantastic time at the Como zoo. Yet, after reading the pieces used for this outing I believe that a different light is shed on the experience. From the raw experience, without reading the articles, I had a fantastic time. It is not everyday that a person can view two polar bears working out a land dispute, or two lions chilling out in their enclosure while laying in the hot sun. In addition, this was the first time that I had ever been to a zoo so I was experiencing these sights for the first time first-hand. I would have never been able to visualize the massive size of a giraffe if one had not waltzed up to my entourage. I would have never truly understood the beauty of a seal swimming if I had not witnessed it so closely in the aquarium. But after reading the articles I got a sense of shame knowing that I was definitely viewing these animals no where near their natural habits. So without their natural habitats how can we as humans try to show a huge mass of people the beauty that is all these animals without taking them out of their habitats and perhaps forever altering the way they act and are perceived by the other wild animals. This dilemma could be changed by simply moving the people to the animals instead of the current situation. Yet this presents a whole new set of problems which may out weight the benefits. Though I can not imagine a situation where the public will not be able to view all of these animals because this may be how many children find that they love this sort of science. It is a simple problem, animals are shown as showcases instead of animals, yet the variables are so complex, people are ever changing and too dynamic to make up their minds. -Tate
Reading “Against Zoos” by Dale Jamieson, I felt that the author had a large bias towards closing down the zoos and it made it hard for me to really believe what he was saying. Some of the things he mentioned, such as the “recycling” of unwanted animals or the killing the mother chimp and kidnapping the baby, seemed to be outlandishly evil and untrue. He did consider the viewpoints of the opposing sides but he really didn’t give them a fair chance. I see zoos as a place where people can learn about and get interested in animals and nature, not as a prison for animals that long to be free. That’s why I definitely enjoyed the chapter from Life of Pi more. I shared a similar viewpoint with the author that zoos are a magical place where people can observe nature and see animals they would never be able to see in the wild. I know if it weren’t for zoos I would never see polar bears or sloths or any of the other amazing and interesting creatures on this planet. I think there should be some sort of balance and that animals in the zoos should receive good treatment, but I don’t think zoos are evil and should be shut down. Ryan
The trip to Como zoo was awesome. Being able to see all of those animals up close and live was crazy. Looking at the size of polar bears up close was one of the best things I have seen. Walking around and getting to see animals from all over is such a great experience, it gives you sights you could only see if you traveled for years all in one place. Although I thoroughly enjoyed myself I did get the feeling of Dale Jamieson’s article that the zoo was wrong for the animals. It happened when I was looking at the bears and they were eerily pacing across the fence and it just looked unnatural. Then I looked at the other bear which was standing and falling in the water and looked like he was having the best time. This is when I completely came to agree with the Life of Pi. The animals are treated well and given everything they need to live and the experience is so great for people I feel it is worth it to have the zoos. -Justin
Zoos are a subject on which I am split. After going to the zoo I had a great time seeing and interacting with all of the animals. After reading "Against Zoos" however my feelings had not changed much. I felt that both sides portrayed within the story were very badly communicated to the reader and that the author should have taken a less obviously biased approach, or at least toned down the hostility of the paper. It is because of the blatant bias and anger within the essay that I was really pushed away from listening to anything that the author was trying to say. I feel that there are different ways in which he could have communicated the same point much better than how he chose to.
As for the zoo question, I am both against and for zoos and it is because of this that I opt instead for a third alternative. Instead of confining animals to either the wild or a zoo, we should instead meet in the middle. We can do this through wild life reserves and other areas of protected and monitored wild life refuge. It is in these places that animals can have the freedom to live without fear of humans in the wild and at the same time be monitored and tracked in a manner that will allow for intervention of doctor s or caretakers should the situation arise that the animals need protection or medical care. It is in this method that I think the best arrangement can be made for the animals to live and prosper.
This page contains a single entry by Capper Nichols published on September 20, 2012 10:47 AM.
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