A Wilder Point of View
For as long as I remember there have always been animals in my life. I’m very much a dog person, but at some point in my life there’s been everything from coldwater fish, tropical fish (a current obsession for another blog, another day), birds, reptiles, and once even a stray cat made it into the home. The unconditional love of a pet is nothing to be sneezed at – here I’m talking about my dogs in particular. No matter what mood or state you’re in; whether you’re sober, drunk, high, depressed, angry, in love, frustrated, confused, tired, exuberant or any of the myriad of human emotions available to us, they’re always there with the same wagging tail, laughing and lolling their pink tongues at you. I’m always up for a bout of fuzz therapy, as I call it, when I get home.
Whilst domestic pets offer a level of love and closeness that no human being can emulate, thus endearing them to us, the wild beauty of exotic animals does the exact opposite. The raw power of a lion, or the mischievous grin of a monkey, the crazy antics of a meerkat, or the quiet dignity of an elephant draws us to them. For me it is to marvel at nature’s ability in creating these amazing creatures to keep a truly wild earth in perfect balance.
That is, of course, until our species extended our greedy reach to commence the destruction of our very own source of existence.
I’m not a fanatical animal rights activist or environmentalist. Heck, I’m not even vegetarian. But that doesn’t mean I don’t try, in other ways, to help conserve the wilderness and support organisations that do.
We visited the Adelaide Zoo on the weekend. I was quite excited; the last time I had visited was some time in 2005, just after we had bought our first digital SLR. It’s actually very nicely laid out, with meandering paths that pass the enclosures the animals are kept in. Many exhibits are improved now, with either glass, or relatively spacious open areas that allow you to see the animals without cage bars obstructing the view. I love Zoos for the opportunity to view the diverse number of exotic animals in a small environment, and for the role they play in the conservation of the world’s species. With an approximate human population of 6.8 billion, a number that is at this very moment increasing, the world has little left to offer non-human species. In the 30 years from 1960 to 1990 alone, 20% of the world’s tropical forest cover was cleared.
Zoos, Aquariums and Conservation Parks will ultimately be the last safe haven for our earthen co-inhabitants. We cannot hope to recreate the lushness of the Amazon rainforest, or the corals found in the Great Barrier Reef, some of which have taken the last half-million years to grow, or the icy hostility of the Antarctic. We must instead support the work of those who are trying to save the last vestiges of wilderness on this planet, so that maybe our grandchildren’s children might have a chance to experience some of the natural wonder we have in our lives right now.
Don’t get me wrong – I donate to human causes too; not very much, but I do. I just think sometimes that I’m aiding the destruction of our world by helping humans live longer lives, or funding the research for a cure for disease X, which was brought about by human causes in the first place anyway. Humans have the ability to speak out for themselves. Humans have the ability to defend what they perceive as their rights, their land, their water, their food. Humans have laws that protect what they own, what they feel, what they say, what they do. It isn’t always apparent (we won’t speak of developing countries and their circumstances), but for the most part its true. When was the last time an animal could claim back its cleared territory from humankind, or breed its own food source, or take a human to court for illegally killing its siblings?
Here I am digressing and making more debatable points. But I love animals, and that’s how I feel. And if you can spare a thought for the other species we share this planet with and maybe help out your local zoo/aquarium/conservation park by visiting or making a small donation, I promise you’ll feel 110% better for it.