I have been at my job for three weeks. I am reminded of the opening pages of the Life of Pi:
If you went to a home, kicked down the front door, chased the people who lived there out onto the street and said, “Go! You are free! Free as a bird! Go! Go! –do you think they would shout and dance for joy? They wouldn’t.
In a zoo, we do for animals what we have done for ourselves with houses: we bring together in a small space what in the wild is spread out… A house is a compressed territory where our basic needs can be fulfilled close by and safely. A sound zoo enclosure is the equivalent for an animal. Finding within it all the places it needs, and finding that there is no need to go hunting, food appearing six days a week, an animal will take possession of its zoo space in the same way it would lay claim to a new space in the wild, exploring it and marking it out in the normal ways of its species… One might even argue that if an animal could choose with intelligence, it would opt for living in a zoo.
Think about it yourself. Would you rather be put up at the Ritz with free room service and unlimited access to a doctor or be homeless without a soul to care for you?
Dear bald eagle soaring over the cliffs of the Columbia River Gorge, wouldn’t you rather live in a cage with no enemies or parasites to harm you? To the lioness who just slaughtered a gazelle after racing across the savannah, wouldn’t you rather eat prepared horse meat from a cat food dish?
I spend my days in a climate-controlled room, sitting in my ergonomic chair with multiple monitors overlooking my kingdom of code. Across the room is a kitchen full of snacks and daily lunch delivery. Don’t I know that cubicle humans are the happiest humans on earth?
1. The Tragedy of Captive-Bred Humans