Sunday, August 18, 2013

Is the Zoo Really Supposed to be Enjoyable?

I've waited to take Cooper to the zoo for two reasons:
1.  I do not like the zoo, and I feel so sorry for the animals so I was prolonging it.
2.  I wanted Cooper to be old enough to appreciate it so that maybe, just maybe I would have fun by seeing the zoo through the eyes of my son. 
My friend was in town visiting, so I thought this would be a prime opportunity to visit the zoo with her family.  I got mentally prepared, dressed Sidekick in a cute outfit to meet this family for the first time, put on my big girl panties, and off we went!  Sidekick's special "thing" (I hate the word "lovey") that he sleeps with is a little blanket with a Monkey head, and he has monkeys all around his room. Apes, chimps, and gorillas were the one thing I was looking forward to seeing so that Sidekick could see that all of these monkeys he has surrounding him are actually real.  Anyway, we went there first and he had fun watching them. Each time we left an exhibit to see a new one he screamed (there's just no way to explain to a 13 month old that we are going to see more things.)  He "talked" to them and told them the sounds that they make.  He could just stand forever looking at them. 

As we walked around, I just felt worse and worse for all of these poor animals.  The bear had no friends with whom to play, the elephants will never be able to run as fast as they can, the tigers didn't have a big place to live, etc.  Some people will say these animals were saved from bad conditions and would never survive in the wild, but I don't "buy" that.  I would never want people to gawk at me hours each day and watch my every move from sleeping, to eating, to taking a shit. 
It was Jungle Boogie night, so the zoo was open until 8:00 and had a band.  Fortunately I was smart enough to change Cooper into this PJs because he looked like this before we got to the car and it was just past 7:30:
I tried really hard to enjoy the zoo, but I didn't  succeed and I probably never will.  I tried to be excited to see the animals, but I walked from exhibit to exhibit feeling so badly for them. Will I go again?  Yes, probably for my son's sake.  Someone commented on my Facebook page that the zoo is a great way to help Sidekick develop an appreciation of wild animals and the importance of keeping them protected in the wild.  I like that perspective, and I'll try to have that conversation with him when he is old enough to understand and not have a tantrum each time we leave an exhibit to go to another one.  In the meantime, I'll just have to suck it up for Sidekick's sake and pretend that I'm having fun.  

1 comment:

  1. I feel bad for the animals as well. However, I did enjoy the zoo when I was a child. That's part of the innocence of childhood--guess it's not too bad to let them enjoy it while they can.

    I love the photos--both are worth 1000 words!