As I mentioned earlier, I am quite happy to be surprised with ideas for outings; after the theatre visit with Susanne, it was Gabi who suggested that instead of just going for a coffee, we could make use of the “pay as you like” campaign the local zoo has on offer at the moment. As I hadn’t been at a zoo for at least 5 years, I agreed, albeit hesitantly.
The problem is that I am rather conflicted about zoos: While I understand that they are important for breeding and protecting certain species and can be very helpful in teaching children about animals, it is also obvious that most of these animals live in environments that are a far cry from their natural habitat. The local zoo is a pretty decent one when it comes to appropriate enclosures and compounds, but my heart aches when I watch wolves and tigers, elephants and giraffes confined in spaces which make it impossible for them to roam and explore. So I usually prefer to watch wildlife documentaries (such as the excellent Planet Earth 2) and avoid being confronted with this ethical dilemma.
Nevertheless, the visit was a good one: The zoo was rather deserted on a cold and dark afternoon, so we had most of the animal houses for ourselves, which I think was not only more enjoyable for us, but also for the animals (I always wonder how they feel about being constantly stared at and subjected to a certain noise level). When there are only a couple of people around, quietly watching the animals, it also gives me a feeling of them behaving more … naturally? I don’t know whether this is the right word, but again, being under human surveillance for most of the day must leave a mark after a while.
As it was bitterly cold, most animals preferred to stay inside which is why some of the photos were taken indoors and look like the animals live in tiny cages (they don’t); there was also no “penguin march” today, although I highly doubt that the penguins had a problem with the chill weather. Pretty sure the keeper just couldn’t be arsed.
We stayed until the zoo shut its doors; when we passed the zoo shop, I considered taking up a sponsorship for an animal (the porcupine being a personal favourite), but again: ethical dilemma. So I decided to sleep over it for a couple of nights and spend the money on a dinner with Gabi at my local Italian – which we did.