Como Zoo; "Wild Things" - David Samuels; chapter 4 of Life of Pi - Yann Martel


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I personally see animals as species and not as individuals. I view people as individuals. In my opinion, animals are used for the best interest of people. Granted we tend to use more than we need and that does come at the animals expense, I still see animals as species and not individuals. I think the Como Zoo and other zoos are very useful because it allows us to look at animals and study them and see how they live and what their habits/tendencies are. People make the argument that we are "keeping them locked up like they are in prison" but I'd make the argument that the animals are treated very well and have no predators in the zoos. I think that zoos are a good thing and i think they are useful.

During my visit to the Como Zoo, I feel that my duty is to respect the animals because they are under stress being in such a closed off area at the zoo. I feel as though my duty would be to donate to help the zoo if that is possible so that the zoo can improve their habitats for the animals. My relationship between the animal and I is very distant. I watch the animal through the glass or a fence but I have no idea what actually happens behind the scenes or what they have been through to get here. Are they happy? Are they depressed? Do they know the difference between real nature and the zoo's habitat? These are some of the questions that run through my head while examining the animals. They are here for my pleasure and I'm not sure how I feel about that. In the Life of Pi chapter four it kind of explains how even if the animal got out most times it wouldn't run away because it gets food, water and shelter at the zoo that it has no reason to leave. I think that is good the zoo takes good care of them but it isn't a natural instinct to be caged up and fed every couple hours in nature. Animals at the zoo have a schedule just like humans do for feeding, cleaning, etc. but I feel like this is sad because in nature the animal is able to choose when it wants to perform these tasks. The zoo tells the animal what to do. I think that the Como Zoo is a good zoo because it has variety and is well kept. They seem to be doing well with the animals though I don't agree with zoos in general. I strongly do think that zoos are in the wrong by capturing wild animals and bringing them back because that is not a lifestyle the animal is used to and they are then confined to one area of the zoo. On the other hand, I feel that animals bred in captivity are better off in zoos because they will lack the survival skills needed to survive in nature and being in captivity is the only life they know. They don't know any better about what it means to be free vs. confined. When Dale Jamieson says “zoos teach us a false sense of our place in the natural order” I agree with this statement because we are taking the animals away and caging them up for our pleasure, what if they did the same to humanity? Who really decides that it is ethical to cage up animals if we don't think caging up humans is okay? I see the animals in the zoo as individuals because there are many individual animals sitting alone. Few are with other species of their kind. Although I may not agree with the concept of zoos completely, I think they are necessary to help save endangered species by increasing their likelihood of survival because zoos don't have predators and feed the animals daily without the animal having to worry.


Life of Pi, Wild Things, & Como Zoo
After reading the “Life of Pi” I came to the conclusion that I would never be able to be apart of the zoo staff. Reading about the animals and their habitats at the Pondicherry Zoo, the way that they treat their cages like we do humans comes very interesting to me. Because just like if we were to move, we wouldn’t feel at “home” at first until we have settled in for some time, then it would become home. Being a zookeeper would have to be a very difficult job. If someone human were to break another human’s home they would act in a negative way, it is the same for the animals at the zoo. When the zookeepers bust in to make changes of the cage, to feed them, or to clean it out, they are intruding into their home. I would never be able to be a zookeeper for this matter, because I would be frightened that some animals would attack negatively. Especially the larger animals such as the bears, lions, moose, deer, tigers, mountain sheep, polar bears, monkeys, hippos, zebras, or giraffes. A lot of the animals spoken about in the article are also all at the Como Zoo. I feel that a lot of the animals are at a variety of zoos, a lot of common ones. Wild things also talks about the life of animals. While reading it I came across the director of the Bronx’s zoo’s story. He talks about how he went to Africa and experienced a horrible thing. He explained it has “it’s a dry season, it’s a drought.” Hearing this from an expert makes me feel really god about zoos and the exhibits they provide for the animals. Staff are really caring for the animals and making their cages as close to wildlife as they can. Just like the Como Zoo and Bronx Zoo (I have been to both) all zoos take advantage of their materials and try to do the best that they can to make the animals feel at “home.”

Visiting the Como Zoo and reading chapter 4 from the Life of Pi made me realize that animals in zoos must be respected. It is not cruel to raise an animal in a zoo, but it is cruel to capture one from the wild and force it to live in a small zoo area. I enjoyed the giraffe exhibit at the Como zoo. They seemed content with their living conditions, and did not seem under that much stress. I believe the lack of stress from the animals was from the respect everyone around the exhibit had for them. Nobody was yelling and nobody was being obnoxious. This seemed calming for the giraffes. I also believe that zoos are useful. If zoos did not exist we would not know what certain animals look like in person, we would not know what they sound like, and we would not know what they do. I enjoyed my trip to the Como Zoo.

After reading chapter four in Life of Pi and the article on Wild Things by David Samuels, I finally saw the view and appreciation of zoos. Although both authors admired and valued zoos, I still could not find myself liking the two authors affection towards such facilities after my visit to the Como Zoo. Don't get me wrong I love animals and plants, but seeing them in a cage is not my cup of tea. However, I do believe my duty toward these animals and plants is to treat them with respect just like any other person would expect of me. I think the relationship that us humans hold to the animals are mere acquaintances because the cage/enclosed space prevent a further relationship.
In a Life of Pi, the author was very close to the animals because he was exposed to their habit and ways at a young age. It helped that his dad owned Pondicherry Zoo, so the author was able to enforce (in a healthy and good way) an intimate bond. I understand his viewpoints and the the "free bird" analogy made light to the given circumstances at the zoo. At one point, I felt his description made me almost believe him that zoos are in fact good. Yes, they are in the educational sense, but I wouldn't want to be the animal who gets stared and pointed at all day. Additionally, at Como, I always find the penguin exhibit disappointing. Penguins are my favorite animals, but I always see the aquarium filthy from lack of cleaning. Witnessing this, makes me feel bad for the animals. If they were raised at the zoo that's one thing, but being brought back from their original habitat, it pains me to see such mistreatment. Samuels state, "Animals eat better than us," let's just give them the opportunity to decide for themselves. On a different note, I think the Jamieson means that zoos disregard how humans should react to nature. People are focusing too much on how we should act, but we should focus on how to react to our surroundings.

I think the zoo is good and bad, because having a zoo gives us excess to animals we might never have gotten to see in person if we didn’t have zoos. At the same time having zoos means taking animals from their natural habitat to an artificial habitat. As a visitor to the zoo my duty to the animals would be to donate, so the zoo could utilize it for the animals. When going to the zoo I don’t feel like I have a relationship with the animals, I think they are cool to look at but that’s all you do is look at them then go home. I guess there would be more of a relationship if I worked at the zoo or if the animals lived with me. But even then you don’t really have a relationship with the animals, because there are people who work with the animals everyday and will still be attacked by them it they aren’t careful. Then there are people in Africa and the Amazon and they live by the animals, but I don’t think they have much of a relationship either. I mean we live where squirrels surround us but it’s not like we have a relationship with them. I think Como is a good zoo they take care of their animals and wildlife, but they are still a bad zoo for being a contributor in taking animals from their natural homes. The difference between animals caught in the wild compared to animals brought up in captivity is the animals from them wild knows what it is like to live in their actual environment. Animals brought up in captivity only knows what it’s like to live in captivity, they won’t know any other life than that. I don’t feel differently about them because it’s sad for both sides. I think Dale Jamieson means that if we take animals out of their habitat into a fake one, then it’s all a lie; life is a lie for these animals because they aren’t in their natural order. I see animals as a species because we biological classify them. Zoos are useful because they help preserve animals that might have become extinct in the wild. I found reading “The Life of Pi” by Yann Martel entertaining because the author is so witty. I like how Martel compared to zoo to a hotel whose guest just won’t leave and are annoying. The chapter just talks about how hard it really is to run zoo, because each animal is different and have different needs, and they are dangerous also.

By reading "Life of Pi" I was introduced to a completely different way to look at zoos. I would have never thought about the animals cages as being their homes, but when you think about it, it does make sense. It is what they have become accustomed too. They learn a schedule, just like humans do. They become used to being fed and having their area cleaned for them, where in the wild they would have to fend for themselves and hunt. He gave many examples of how animals that would escape from their cages in the zoos eventually return. He argues that these animals wouldn't be free even if they chose too because they would come back to what they are used too. I personally really enjoy the Como Zoo, I live very close to it so I have been there many times. I think it's awesome that you can see animals that you may have never had the chance to with out a zoo. I do believe the zoos take good care of the animals they have. It seems like they are well fed and their cages or shelters are kept clean. Yes it is different from the wild, but once they get used to living there maybe they actually do like it. Especially if the animal was raised in a zoo, they would never know life as any different. It's kind of like a human if you were raised a certain way for example as Amish you wouldn't know what it's like to live with technology.

After reading "Life of Pi" I did learn a couple things and now have a slightly different view on zoos. It's hard for me to take a side on deciding whether zoos are good or bad. I can't seem to give myself a good enough reason to really take on side. I think zoos are good in that they can show people animals that can't be found locally or even in the US. One thing I know is that animals do adapt to the environment they are placed in. Overtime an animal would accept a zoo as its home, but also they would come to the understanding that they are in captivity. I don't really agree when it talks about animals returning to their cage by choice because they think its their home. I can understand if an animal returns to its cage because it escapes into an urban area where its uncomfortable. I think if any animal was placed in its natural habitat in the wild, no animal would try and return to a zoo. I think that any animal would be better off in the wild, but at the same time zoos do a good job with keeping animals in a good environment. My overall opinion on zoos even after reading the article "Life of Pi" will remain nuetral.

First and foremost, the Como Zoo is a spectacular place. It's amazing that it can stay free even with all the recent renovations done to it. What I love most about the Como Zoo is the space and luxury they give to their animals. Just by the cleanliness of the zoo, one can tell that the animals are well taken care of and happy with their homes. In Martel's chapter 4, he makes a valid point that I had never thought of before. That animals maybe are better off living in zoos. And that they aren't really "free" living in the wild. Animals who live in the wild live with more fear and less food. People love food and shelter, especially if it's free, so why wouldn't animals? In Samuels's "Wild Things", basically the history of the Bronx Zoo is spelled out. Details from the types of animals, how many there are, what they eat, how they react to other animals, etc. I found these facts to be quite interesting. The author also interviews many people/zookeepers that tell their history and a little more about the animals they have taken care of for years. The Bronx Zoo loves their animals.

The como zoo is a very cool place to visit, it was cool seeing animals alive for the first time like the giraffes, and many others. I was glad to get that assignment it was a great experince for me. reading the life of pi chapter the author makes you think in a differeent way, he changes everything that you hear normally. he descibes the zoo as not a bad place for animals but actually a safe enviroment with a constant food supply. he goes into detail that if an animal is in the wild they always live with a sense of fear and food is always scarce. he thinks the zoo is a good place for animals to live. i still think that animals should stay in the wild but he does make you think of the whole thing in a different way. i apprciated reading the chapter.

After reading "Life of Pi" and the Como Zoo article my perception of zoos has lightened. In the past, articles I have read only discuss the negative about animals living in zoos. I have heard that animals do not get proper attention and not a large area to live. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and I think zoos are beneficial to animals. Every place has pros and cons but I can understand and make sense with the positive part of zoos. In zoos, animals get good nutrition, proper attention and caregiving. Also, it is an eye opener for humans to see how animals behave in their habitat and environment to understand that not all animals are wild and annoying. That every animal behaves differently in their environment.

After reading "Life of Pi" and the Como Zoo article my perception of zoos has lightened. In the past, articles I have read only discuss the negative about animals living in zoos. I have heard that animals do not get proper attention and not a large area to live. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and I think zoos are beneficial to animals. Every place has pros and cons but I can understand and make sense with the positive part of zoos. In zoos, animals get good nutrition, proper attention and caregiving. Also, it is an eye opener for humans to see how animals behave in their habitat and environment to understand that not all animals are wild and annoying. That every animal behaves differently in their environment.

After Reading Life of Pi and Wild Things I have a whole new outlook on animals an zoos. In Life of Pi it kind of explains how life in zoo is and what it's like to be a zookeeper as his dad was. For most of my life I've always heard that animals in zoos are apart of animal cruelty and its not necessarily right to keep animals locked up like that. I've visited a lot of zoos, and I think that in some ways, zoos might actually be helpful to some of these animals. No they may not necessarily be able to run free and out in the open, but I believe that in some cases, zoos might actually help save some of these animals. Some zoo animals are endangered species and I believe that sometimes bringing these animals to zoos give them a second chance at life. Zoo really do take good care of animals because if they didn't, the animals would die a lot faster and zoos would be non-existent.

I used to be those one who Martel Y talked about in the reading of Life of Pi that think zoo actually took away the freedom from the animals;however, I had a different opinion about zoo now. It was sad to admit that even the animals were in the wild, they are still not free because we destroyed their home and their living area. The value of the zoo is to provide a safe place and take care of these animals. Moreover, zoo provided a great opportunity for us to get close to the animal to learn them and feel them.I enjoyed having such close connection with animals in the zoo. Visiting Como zoo was a totally different experience compared to the Bell museum. They are so alive and natural. I did hope the visitors of the zoo will respect the animals let the animals feel the love and care from us. I had a mix feeling when Martel said "There's no place like a home, and that's what the animals felt about." I hope the zoo will be their home and make them feel save. Maybe being in the wild that might get attack by human at any time is also not the real "freedom" for the animals, and now I glad that we have zoo to take care and protect the animals from any danger that might happened to them.


When reading the Life of Pi the thing I found most interesting was the perspective that the story was being told from. Typically when I go to zoos it is purely just to admire the animals, and look at the different kinds. However the main character in the book gets a whole different viewpoint of a zoo. I found it somewhat fascinating about how he noticed the details of each animals habits and daily life. He got to see the animals in multiple different ways and got to know them, rather than just getting small glimpses of them like I would. There's so much more to these animals than we Care to take notice of. It's crazy to think of how uneducated we truly are about the life that exists around us. There are countless amounts of specimens out there and we don't even know the basics to their existence.

As I read through chapter four from Life of Pi written by, Yann Martel, I couldn’t help but picture dorm-life, “Consider: the guests never leave their rooms; they expect not only lodging but full board; they receive a constant flow of visitors, some of whom are noisy and unruly”. Being part of the maintenance staff at a dorm would be a difficult job because of all the rowdy students making a mess in the bathrooms and in the dining hall. The way that Martel describes working at a zoo to be a nightmare, which it would be even worse than working as dorm or hotel upkeeping.
In David Samuel’s “Wild Things” Joe Briller worked night shifts at the Bronx Zoo, which in his opinion, was a better idea than being out on the streets at night. Joe remarked, “Animals eat better than us”. Briller doesn’t mind having to deliver food to the animals and doesn’t see it as demeaning.
There is a big difference between animals that are bred in the wild and brought to the zoo versus raised in captivity. When animals are born in the wild, they adapt to the wildlife and must be mildly tamed before brought back to a zoo, whereas an animal raised from inside the zoo will be extremely tame because there are so few things it must do to survive.

After reading Chapter 4 of life of Pi, Ive grown a better philosophy of how animals are. Like the author mentioned, Typically people say that animals should be "free" to roam their lands and belong in the wild and not in man-made environments. I felt the same way, always looking at zoo animals as if they don't belong there. The author makes a good point about how dangerous it actually is in the wild and the difficulty of finding food for themselves is the determination of life and death. The examples he gives of animals running away then coming back like the bear expands the ideas of my mind. Animals are not much different from humans. They would actually rather choose an environment where their basic needs are met, like how we humans usually prefer living in shelter rather than outside. I find it amazing how the author strays away from the common concepts of animals and brings new insights to the table. It makes me feel like I can't put my faith in everything that I hear anymore. But in all, I believe that some animals do prefer the company of human assistance, but some other animals are better off to roam.
Just by the start of reading the "Wild Things" article, I am stunned by all the death of the migrating birds, how much they spend on food and the quantity in which they purchase. Also, later on it is revealed that after performing autopsy to animals that die, they find coins in the bodies of the animals that were dropped by people. Not only that, but in Cambodia, they were enforcing rules on types of birds and applying rewards and penalties for certain actions taken. From these things, I can see that animals are being taken care, being sheltered and living the good life, but what do they get out of it. They lose their natural abilities that they would usually get out in the wild and they begin to create a history of leisure living rather than survival of the fittest. I believe that animals should be appreciated and be given care through food, shelter and safety, but too much of it results in the deceasing of their natural behaviors.

I believe our duty to the animals, as visitors is to be respectful towards them, and to just let them live normally in their home. It bothers me when other people bang on the glass or try to distract the animals and get the animals to focus on them. We just need to observe the animals and enjoy being in their presence. I do feel differently about animals that are caught in nature and brought to captivity rather than animals that are born into captivity. The ones out in the wild only know that type of lifestyle, and that they are free and need to hunt for the food. Whereas the ones born into captivity don’t know any better, and being confined to a certain space their whole life isn’t a huge deal because they don’t know what else there is. Also I believe zoos are useful for the fact that they bring in revenue and can help a species stay in existence. All little kids love going to zoos and it’s a good experience. Then if a species is about to die off, scientists can capture a male and female of that species and keep them alive just because it’s good to have many different species of animals on earth.
In the ‘Wild Things’ article I thought a couple of Samuels’ statements were interesting. He talked about the two men that fed the animals, and they said that it was safer being in the zoo than on the streets. I thought it was funny because they find security in the zoo kind of like animals would. He also says, “Animals eat better than us,” which I also found funny because they’re animals and the men are humans, that is not the way the world should work.


When visiting the Como Zoo, I observed many different aspects of the environment as a whole and the animals. Looking at the other people at the zoo it was like a show to them. People were taking a pictures of the animals and some were even talking to to them trying to get the animals to move. I thought this was interesting because the people visiting the zoo were not treating the animals as individuals. The animals were being treated like a show for the peoples enjoyment. I think as whole this is how we treat animals. Animals are treated as a species and how we talk and act around them. What I did learn from the zoo is that we should treat animals with respect when we visit the zoo. I think even though animals are not humans we should still respect them because if we do not one day they might be all gone due to how we treat the animals. The main goal for society I think should be to make sure there is no animal cruelty at these zoos. These zoos should be places where animals can have a better life and get out of the dangerous environment they lived in before the zoo. I just hope society continues to treat animals with respect so they are always around.

As I visited the Como Zoo I thought to myself what is my responsibility to these creatures? Then I realized it is to respect them and their habitat and disturb them if they want to be in peace. Although I feel like it is wrong to have animals locked in a cage and almost treated like prisoners. I feel like it is helpful for us in learning how a specific animal lives, and how an endangered animal can be safe and be helped from being extinct. In my opinion I feel like all animals are species except for dogs and cats as they are treated as family and individuals. The environment for the zoo isn’t what the animals were used to so being in another atmosphere might make it difficult for them to adapt!

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This page contains a single entry by Capper Nichols published on September 17, 2013 1:10 PM.

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