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Monday, January 07, 2008

Zoos and Attacks

Right off the bat, I want to say that the death of Carlos Sousa Jr. was not "tragic", in my opinion. Sure, many of you will give me hell for stating that opinion, but you shouldn't mess with tigers if you don't have professional experience.

See? I'm not going to make a blanket statement that says "never mess with tigers" or "leave the tigers alone" - because we're humans and we reign supreme and if you've got the proper training and experience in the profession, you can safely mess with the tigers. This kid was not a professional and shouldn't have been messing with the tigers, so I'm not going to shed any tears over the fact that it backfired on him and the tiger messed with him in return.

In fact, over the past few days, more and more facts have been rising to the surface and when you look at it, the tiger is certainly not to blame and the zoo isn't responsible either. It appears to be idiot kids doing something wrong and catching tiger-related hell for it.

For example, the empty vodka bottle found in the car of the boys, which leads one to believe that their heads were already in stupid mode as the events took place. Even though the police denied this fact, the New York Times reported that two of the boys were carrying slingshots. One witness even came forward and affirmed that taunting took place, saying that two of the mauling victims were "roaring"at the big cats. "They were trying to get that lion's attention. ... The lion was bristling. ... Their behavior was disturbing. They kept doing it." While the witness may not prove the best at discerning between lions and tigers, the witness certainly knows that there was malicious intent and taunting taking place.

Once you've got all of that in your head, can you really find these kids as the "innocent victims" people are claiming them to be?

So then, of course, comes the question of whether or not zoos should be "acceptable" in this new generation. People do have a point in saying that the internet is responsible for conveying a lot of information that didn't used to be so readily available. In the olden days, the only way you could show a child the wonders of the elephant were in books and old National Geographic films complete with creepy film graininess and a boring voiceover. Or you went to a zoo and saw an elephant in real life, usually accompanied by a boring voiceover provided by your zoo tour guide. Now, you can just Google "elephant" and get images, videos and all of the encyclopaedic knowledge in mere seconds.

But I pose the question: Is all that technology really going to convey the magnificence of seeing an elephant in reality?

I, for one, say that it won't. But of course, I was from a generation on the cusp - having to get most of my knowledge the old-fashioned way throughout childhood just so a few years later in my teen years the internet blossomed into what it is today so I can at least attempt a comparison. I've seen elephants in the zoo. And they are BIG. Not as big today as they were when I was relatively smaller, but I've seen all the YouTube and Wikipedia and I have to say that there's no comparison. Hands down, the zoo lets you know what an elephant is REALLY like.

Does it accurately portray an elephant living in the wild? No.

Is it still a real elephant that can instill wonderment in a child and spark the imagination? You bet your ass it is.

Plus, not only can you learn about the real live animal and what it looks like and even funny things trainers will do with them in a zoo show - you get to learn that animals stink. Say what you will about video versus reality in the sense of children learning about how large the elephant is - only the zoo can accurately convey the information of how much wild animals stink. The poo is the real learning factor, people. And you can't get that from the internet.

All the books and movies and stuff made me wish during my childhood to one day own my very own elephant. One trip to the zoo was all I needed to learn the reality and focus on more sensible goals that offered relatively better odors.

What do you think? Should zoos stay or go?


Travis Erwin said...

"... if you've got the proper training and experience in the profession, you can safely mess with the tigers"

Unless you're anme is Siegfried and Roy.

I actually agree with you. I think zoos are a must for the education and enlightment of the public. They should most definitley stay.

AaronBSam said...

Siegfried and Roy had the training and the experience - which is why we LET them mess with the tigers. They knew the tigers could mess back, but apparently got lazy from all the experiences of the tigers NOT messing back. Lesson learned.

And the lesson is learned for all, which is another important reason to keep zoos around. For these rare instances of animals messing back. With all the press about a tiger mauling and killing kids who were messing with it - don't you think kids will now be LESS likely to mess with tigers? I'd like to think so.

And if they don't, cleaner gene pool for the rest of us!