Letter to the Editor

On a recent trip to the John Ball Zoo, I was brought to tears at the incredibly small exhibits the animals have to live in. The worst part of it all is that it was for a project, mandatory. The Bald Eagle was by himself to spite being an animal that makes long term to live long pairs. The warthog’s spot was about as big as my room. The chimpanzees were listless and bored. My heart broke. Their habitat, though the most was made of the area, was small and, for being housed all winter, far too cramped for creatures that need to be able to run away. I know that these beings would not survive in the wild as they are but that is the point. We shouldn’t be removing them from their natural habitat; preserving and protecting, yes but not removing. The one I called Stevie Wonder (because he rocked side to side like the namesake) came up to the glass when I came in and looked me over. There was life and compassion in those eyes and it was close to crushed. They are fed and cared for and they play but these are wild animals, not a pet. Think for a moment what it would be like to be locked in your house, watched always by people and forced to live with a few others. That space gets really small really fast. Before going to the zoo Saturday, I didn’t like the concept of zoos but understood their part in conservation. After that trip, I will never go again to the John Ball or any other. I feel that it is wrong for wild animals to be shut in like that and all the more wrong that I had to pay (thus supporting their continued captivity) to complete a project. I won’t go again. I won’t support the mental cruelty that is inflicted on so many poor creatures. If I can walk free as a child of the earth then what right have we to contain others? They should be as free as they are meant to be. A bird should fly and an African chimp shouldn’t be subjected to the Michigan snow even if the sun is shining.

Jane Smith