June 28th 2015
Today I went to a Safari Park and was made to feel small, fragile and insignificant by these huge animals that I could see through barbed wire fence.
It was a wonderful day, I got to see my girlfriend cry (good tears) because a giraffe ate food out of her hand. The whole concept of Safari – and zoos – is pretty weird. You pay money to drive around someone’s home, take pictures of them, feed them, poke them, stroke them and shout at them, and then you leave. And then you go into their cousins house and do the same thing. And we’re allowed to walk into their homes for what reason? Because we – as a species – have some kind of ownership over these other species.
I was staring at this elephant for a long time. Look how easily that could kill me. Look at the size of it.
Every time I go to a zoo or to a safari park the debate arises about whether or not it is humane. And I was thinking about that whilst staring at this elephant. Look how big it is. It’s (and I don’t want to say the word enclosure so instead I will say habitat) habitat was of reasonable size, perhaps the size of a baseball field (saying that, I’ve never seen a baseball field in real life so I have no actual grasp of how large a baseball field is) and naturally I was thinking “is that enough room for an animal of that size?” And originally I thought yes, and here’s why.
If we talk ratios, that elephant is, say, ten times bigger than I am. If I was to line up 5 of myself, and then sit one of myself on each of my own shoulders (weird imagery) it’d probably be the size of that elephant. The habitat in which the elephant was living (with his wife and child, pictured below) was probably an area twenty times the square footage of my house. So, thinking about ratio, that elephants home with respect to the size of the elephant was double the size of my home with respect to the size of me. And I don’t think my home is too small for me.
There were also this group (pack) of little fox/cat/dog hybrids (tribrids?) that were scampering around between cars. Their habitat was three times the square footage of my house, and the foxcatdog’s are about a fifth of the size of me. So they had loads of room.
Scaling it right down we also walked through an aquarium/reptile house, and you see these gigantic lizards living in these small glass boxes with some snotty little shit banging on the glass to make it do something (here’s looking at you, Dudley Dursley) but the thing is, the glass box only looks small to me because I am human sized. I am not lizard sized. I called the lizards gigantic but they weren’t big at all if you compare them to the size of me. And I’m an average sized human. So the box doesn’t seem that small when you scale it up.
Even the fish tanks (which I could’ve probably lifted in my own arms if water wasn’t really, and weirdly, heavy) don’t seem that small if you think about how small a fish is. Yeah he’s only got that one square meter of box in which to live, but this is a fish that is 2 square centimetres big. A meter is a big space for a little fish.
So, back to staring at the elephant.
I’d convinced myself that his habitat wasn’t too bad of a size for a creature that big. I get on just fine in my little house, and so does he. But, and here’s the thing, I can leave my house. I do not have to stay within the confines of one address, I don’t have to stay within one postcode, or one city, or one country, and in two months time I am seeing the world.
And that’s the thing about captivity, you can make the habitats as big as you want but the animals still cannot go where they want. They’re still restricted to that home, they can’t go and visit their friends, they can’t pop to the shops for a bite to eat, they have to stay at home and wait for food to come to them like its a pizza delivery service.
So you’re sat in your massive home all day eating pizza, doesn’t sound like a bad life. But if you ever get bored of that life you can leave.
Until tomorrow, these beasts can’t leave.