I’ve been seeing trailers lately for Matt Damon’s new movie, We Bought a Zoo, set to hit theaters this December. And it looks like it’s going to be good.
And I’m going to see it when it comes out. But I couldn’t disagree with the premise more.
When I think of what zoos and aquariums represent, it’s hard not to feel enraged. They base their success and profits on the imprisonment and degradation of wild animals, living beings that should never be put in cages and kept locked up.
And it’s not that I’m ignorant of the arguments made against my opinions, because they are valid, and I could understand why most people would agree with them.
People in favor of the so-called positive work zoos do would argue that they provide endangered animals a safe habitat, keeping them from becoming extinct, and that they save animals that are injured and on the verge of dying. They would also argue that, without zoos, the general public wouldn’t have exposure to the wild and exotic animals that zoos are able to house.
But you can’t ignore the most integral part of this debate: these are wild animals, and wild animals belong in the wild.
They don’t belong in cages, and humans have no right to put them there. For one thing, if an animal is injured in the wild, it isn’t man’s responsibility or right to swoop in and save them. We need to stop playing God. If the animal is going to survive, they’re going to do it on their own. And if they die, they were meant to per the natural cycle of life. If you save their life by putting them in a cage, how is that truly saving them? In fact, it’s condemning them to a life of domesticity, something wild animals aren’t used to and can’t endure. Have you ever gone to a zoo and really looked at the animals on the other side of the thick glass? They are tired, disinterested, depressed. Just look into their eyes and you will see the pain, the suffering there.
And sure, maybe some animals are at risk of becoming extinct, and zoos provide a guaranteed habitat, but let’s ask ourselves this: would these animals be endangered if it weren’t for humans? If we stopped destroying the ecosystems they live in, if we stopped poaching them, if we stopped interfering with their way of life, they wouldn’t be in this situation, and we wouldn’t feel like we have to save them by providing them with an artificial habitat. Because, what are we saving them from but ourselves?
We should be the animals in cages.
I’ll check back in after the movie is released; maybe after seeing the positive outcome of this true story I’ll have a different opinion. But I wouldn’t count on it.
If I had the chance, I would buy a zoo, too.
Then I’d set all the animals free.