Editorial

Not real animals at the zoo

A child who goes to a zoo is not encountering real animals. Like any other spectacle, like any other pornography, a zoo can never really satisfy, can never really deliver what it promises.

A child who goes to a zoo is not encountering real animals. Like any other spectacle, like any other pornography, a zoo can never really satisfy, can never really deliver what it promises.

Zoos commit at least four unforgivable sins. First, they destroy the lives of those they cage. Second, they destroy our understanding of who and what animals and habitats really are. Third, they destroy our understanding of who and what we really are. And fourth, they destroy the potential for mutual relationships, not only with those particular encaged animals but also with those still wild …

Everything is far worse than I am making it seem. Zoos – like pornography, like science, like other toxic mimics – take a very real, necessary, creative, life-affirming, and most of all relational urge and turn it – pervert it – until it furthers not fully mutual relationships at all but instead superficial relationships based on domination and control.

Indeed, zoos – like pornography, like science, like other toxic mimics – can cause people to forget those original relational urges, to forget mutuality is possible, to forget depth is possible, to believe control is natural and desirable.

… Zoos take the creative need for participating in relationships with wild nonhuman others and simplify it until our “nature experience” consists of spending a few moments looking at – or simply walking by – insane bears and angry chimpanzees in concrete cages.

This is an excerpt of an excerpt of Derrick Jensen’s Thought to Exist in the Wild with photos, including the above, by Karen Tweedy-Holmes (“No Voice Unheard, 2007) as reprinted in Geez 06, Summer 2007.

Like this article? Subscribe to Geez and get more like this delivered to your door, ad-free, four times year.

View comments, or leave one yourself

Hide comments

(No one has dared comment yet.)

Sorry, comments are closed.

Issue 6, Summer 2007

Get Our Newsletter

(Tasteful and spam-free, guaranteed.)

All content is © 2005–2019 Geez Magazine and its respective authors.   (Ascend)

Geez Magazine | 1950 Trumbull Ave. | Detroit, MI, USA | 48216 | (585)-880-9555