By Elisabeth Tharp | Broadcast Reporter
Just think, one day you’re taken from your home with no warning or choice; then you’re enclosed in a cage with no friends or family. Would you be happy? Would you feel respected?
When I was a little kid, I was obsessed with zoos. The thrill of seeing animals up-close, in real life, that I had only seen on TV was so amazing to me. I loved being able to go from seeing an elephant to a gorilla then straight to having butterflies surround me and birds perch on me. When I was 5-years-old, I thought zoos were the greatest opportunities to observe animals that we would normally have to travel great distances to see, but I was completely wrong.
The other day I went to the Cameron Park Zoo for my wildlife ecology class. At first, I was having a great time like I did when I was a kid. We first stopped at the tiger exhibit; I thought it was amazing to see a Sumatran Tiger up close, until I noticed that there was only one tiger in the exhibit that wasn’t even bigger than a studio apartment. Next, we went to see the orangutans, and that’s when things started to become shocking. The orangutan exhibit was huge, but looked empty until my parter spotted one orangutan asleep in the corner of the exhibit. It was all by itself, curled up and in a far corner of the exhibit.
We arrived just in time to watch one of the handlers give the orangutan some juice. She put the bottle outside of the enclosure, against the fence on one side and called the orangutan’s name for him to come get his beverage. We watched him sluggishly walk over to pick up the juice and drank it though the fence. This was when my heart started to feel different. At first, I thought seeing an orangutan was so cool and nothing else mattered until I started to comprehend what I was really seeing–– I was seeing a great animal drink juice from a bottle through a fence alone.
We then went on to the rest of the exhibits. The wild vultures have one of the largest exhibits at the zoo and there are hundreds of them that come and go as they please. The elephants, giraffes and rhinos, on the other hand, have some of the smallest enclosures at the zoo. This made me feel sad and angry that some of the biggest, most powerful animals on our planet have some of the tiniest enclosures at zoos. In the wild, these animals typically stay and live together with more than five of their same species. But, in the enclosures at the Cameron Park Zoo there was only one rhino, two elephants and three giraffes.
Going to the zoo now, being knowledgeable and able to comprehend things more, put the experience into a greater perspective for me. I can now say zoos are the most horrific places for animals to live. They are showcasing the worlds greatest animals for human pleasure, to see things they would not normally see in their part of the world. Zoos take away peoples choice to travel and see animals in their natural environments.