Day 165 – Zoos. Love ’em and Hate ’em.   14 comments

Gorilla PortraitDuring our weekend away, we also visited the Calgary Zoo. The Calgary Zoo is a big, diverse zoo. There are lots of animals to see, but I have to admit to mixed feelings about zoos. My kids love seeing the animals. I obviously enjoy taking pictures. I understand a zoo’s role in conservation (Parks Canada has done some great work helping the sandhill crane), but at the same time, the animals often don’t seem to have a lot of breathing room.

While at the Calgary Zoo, we were excited to visit the Australian section for a few sights of home. Unfortunately, save for a few red kangaroos outside, the rest were indoors. I wasn’t too concerned about the lizard, the skink or the mice, but picture three little wallabies huddled together on a little patch of hay in the midst of a 5mx2m concrete-lined, glassed-in enclosure. I just wanted to hop them on a plane and send them home!

The gorilla pictured above was born in captivity and she’s had a rough go of it. She was raised by humans and used to mix very poorly with other gorillas (she behaved a bit too human). She’s been bounced around zoos and hasn’t gotten on too well, until the she arrived at the Calgary Zoo. Through lots of care and attention, they’ve managed to socialize her with the local gorilla population.

So, what do you think? Is she smiling for the camera or is she furrowing her brow?


14 responses to “Day 165 – Zoos. Love ’em and Hate ’em.

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  1. Stunning shot. She takes my breath away. Hard not to anthropomorphize, when you look into her wise eyes. She looks sad and angry. Great, great photo.

  2. This is arresting, Mike. The emotive captured here has so many layers. It really holds up a mirror to the viewer. Wow. And I’m with you on zoos. Every time I visit one I witness something positive and always spot something that calls it all into question.

  3. One of the most stunning shots I’ve ever seen of a primate. You have a real eye and a real talent Mike!

  4. Great picture that makes me cry… I don’t like zoos. I never have and never will!

  5. Super powerful shot!

  6. I agree with you. I have mixed emotions too, when I visit a zoo. On my opinion zoos are important to conserve animals which have no chance to survive in nature. This is a man made problem, because most humans are avid for everything they can rob from nature.

    On the other side zoos make me sad. There are animals who need miles and miles of steppe, because they are born to run. And they have only some squaremeters where they can make only some small footsteps. Or let´s talk about primats. They need a big forrest with trees to climb on. And what do they have? A small area with dead boles and artifical “Rocks” made of concrete. And last but not least, Dolphins. Born to live in a small pool where they never have a chance to listen the sound of the see or to taste the freedom.

    Zoos are good, if you are a human. There you can see animals which you can´t see if they live in wildlife. But while watching your excellent photograph I got the feeling, that she is not happy to live in jail. Deep inside she seems to know that this is not the right way to live. If there exist something like a collective memory she knows…

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments Lightbrush. Zoos are clearly a controversial area. The more I see, the less I can support them. I particularly agree with your concerns about dolphins.

  7. Nice shot and this is a striking portrait. Yo have captured the expressions/emotions nicely on this shot.

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