Sidney and I went to the Woodland Park Zoo yesterday. Pictures HERE.
I have fond memories of visiting the zoo as a child. And back in the freewheeling 70's at the Portland Zoo, you could hand feed some of the animals with a snack pack you purchased at the gate. I only remember this because I used to eat the rye crackers intended for the giraffes so I never had anything to feed them by the time I got to their area. But times have changed and the only animals you can feed at the zoo are the ones you bring in with you.
Yesterday, Sidney and I accompanied the Seattle Stay at Home Moms Group to the Woodland Park Zoo here in Seattle. I didn't really know any of these folks, but the leader of the group had a zoo membership and could get a few people in at half price so that was good enough for me. Actually it was a lovely group of 7 adults with kids ranging from 5 months to 3 years. It's hard to keep a group of that size together(with strollers), mingling among school groups, other parents + strollers and the colorful populous that frequents the zoo at 1pm on a Thursday. There was one particularly loud family who had a few walking adults, an elder in a wheelchair, two young adults and at least 2 children under 10 who were terrorizing the zoo animals. One of the female young adults was supposedly watching the children but would yell for them as the children ran ahead. So when I finally saw her, she looked like she had just stepped out of a hair band video. It was very hard not to notice them.
But enough about the people, there were some magnificent animals there. I think Sidney was taking it in. She seemed quite keen on the elephants, meerkats and giraffes. I couldn't help but notice the sadness in some of the larger animals' eyes. I would imagine that not having to worry about food or predators is something of a relief but to always be confined to such small enclosures and not really get to be a wild animal in the fullest sense can't be fun either. I have really mixed feelings about keeping animals like this. On one hand you give people exposure and in all likelihood a connection to wild animals who need to have legal protection from over hunting and habitat destruction. On the other hand it is wholly unnatural to keep them penned up like that (unless they are injured or born in captivity). So I don't know--it's a hard one.