I'm not a big fan of the zoo. I know the arguments both for and against keeping animals in captivity, and I come down on the side of the individual animals who are being kept, usually to their detriment, always against their will. They just don't seem happy to me.
Even so, there is something undeniable about a child's pure delight at encountering animals at close range, which is actually the most convincing argument in favor of zoos for me. And so it is generally only in a child's company that I ever find myself at a zoo or any other captive animal exhibit. Such was the case today, when we spent the overcast afternoon at the Chattahoochee Nature Center with my two-year-old niece and my four-year-old nephew. There we we were able to see all sorts of animals, mostly in large enclosures or behind glass.
The facility itself is state of the art, as green as green can be, and it was with a clear conscience that we made our way through their exhibits, viewing possums, owls, hawks, turtles, snakes, beavers, vultures, and even bald eagles. My niece and nephew were thrilled at the "wild animals" but it wasn't long before we wondered where all these critters had come from.
Home again, I checked out their website and the detailed biographies of all the residents of the nature center. It turned out to be an ugly litany of man v. wild: cars, guns, poison, power lines, and pets-- these were the events that led up to their captivity, which was also their rescue.
My head is spinning.