To The Zoo

I went to the zoo the other day. Actually, I went to Maksimir Park http://www.zagreb-life.com/play/entertainment_details/18-Maksimir_Park) a huge (316 hectares) park located in northeast Zagreb. I miss the country and knew that a city park was not going to be my ‘kind of get to the wilderness’ experience but I went any way.

It was a beautiful sunny Saturday and the place was, as one could imagine, packed. The number of people was overwhelming and as I walked I noticed a sign for the zoo (zooloski). I am not really a fan of the zoo as I feel for the animals in cages for a life sentence for committing no crime other than being different than us. Yes I do agree that it is educational for all especially children who may have never seen these kinds of animals and I must say that I was impressed with the variety.

But, as usual, I was generally saddened and mostly to see the large animals such as the lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) stuck in small cages so that we could see them no matter where they were. I felt the general tension they were experiencing and also felt the want to get out and run. I again realize how fortunate I am for my many freedoms.

In particular I related to this bear:


Her constant pacing in circles (clockwise) gave me a sense of how I would react. She was clearly driven insane by all the viewers and the noise and the commotion and in some cases I noticed trash was tossed in. I stood for several minutes and watched her go round and round. I did not want to look but I also could not take my eyes off of her.

It again brought up for me our separation from nature into cities. We are fortunate that some time long ago our forefathers (and foremothers) had the insight to set aside land for us to get off the pavement and onto soft ground (although all the trails I saw were paved)(in fact all the walkers in the park were on the trails and not off of them)(I actually did go off and felt I was going to be asked to stay the trail).

In cities when land is set aside for a park the first thing that is done is a planner comes in and designs it for the best use for all. I understand why this is done and this particular park is quite beautiful and must have a competent design for the masses to escape from the masses of the city.

Quite noticeable was a large photo that really gave me the sense I was in nature.

I was leaving the zoo feeling quite exhausted because as sad as it is I had to see it all as there are so many amazing creatures all caged up in the well designed (too) small areas. The pure beauty of their skins, feathers, looks, stance and movements kept me sucked in for a few hours. Around the last turn I saw this:

It reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode I saw years ago when aliens came and convinced two people to go to their planet and live in comfort forever in a very nice house. The couple agreed and when they arrived they were put into this house, which was quite large and very beautiful. At a certain point they tried to go out to see the yard and found all the doors locked. A few seconds later the front of the house opened and they were on display in the aliens’ zoo and would be happily cared for, forever.