Goodbye Zoos!

  Rajat Ghai |     June 23, 2020

For most of us, the lockdown imposed by the government in the wake of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has turned out to be exactly what we feared: imprisonment. Day after day of sitting at home, working, eating and sleeping, but not being able to go out except to the local store to buy groceries and other essentials gives one a feeling of being caged.

Cage. Right. That is the word. We all are feeling as if we are in a cage made of cement, concrete, wood and metal. Worst of all, it means we will not get to experience the delights of summer, however brutal it eventually is. Going out with friends, watching a movie, even having an ice cream is now a novelty for us.

Perhaps, now, we might be able to think about those poor animals whom we cage in those modern prisons called 'zoos' for our recreation and education.

How must they feel? When we can’t even tolerate a few weeks in the comfort of our homes, how can we leave them exposed to the cruelty of spending their entire lives inside a prison fashionably termed as a zoo?

In case of our current 'internment', we, who are from reasonably well-to-do sections of society, have all modern amenities with us. We can surf the internet at reasonably good speed and thanks to the various e-commerce companies, we can even get food and medicines at our doorsteps.

But are the animals in zoos getting adequate care? Well, India’s zoos are notorious for not treating their exhibits properly. Proper food and medical care are usually not forthcoming. In many cases, the staff is engaged in clandestine illegal trade in animal parts. One wonders what the world’s caged animals are experiencing during the lockdown?

Perhaps, the lockdown is a signal to humanity to finally let go of this outdated concept of zoos. Indeed, there have been instances of criminals being granted amnesty in certain countries due to the lockdown. If we can do that, why can’t we think of giving freedom to the blameless animals who are held against their will for no crime of theirs? Food for thought?

About the Author

Associate Editor, Down To Earth Web, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi. His main interests include history, wildlife, culture, cuisine, theology, and indigenous peoples.

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