Although my daughter loves to see the animals, I hate going to the zoo. They are a relic of a bygone age – a Victorian concept which, as our knowledge of the animal kingdom grows, becomes even less palatable. Frustration and boredom are common amongst animals in zoos and can lead to obsessive behaviors in the form of pacing, swaying, and even self-mutilation. This is known as stereotypic behavior and such repetitive movements have also been noted in people with mental illnesses. With nothing to do, animals in zoos go insane.
Space in zoos rarely, if ever, matches the animals’ natural range. Animals who would normally roam for tens of miles a day tread the same few paces daily. A study published a few years ago revealed that enclosures in many zoos and safari parks are on average 100 times smaller than the minimum home range in the wild for the animals they contain.
I wrote this poem after a visit to the zoo. Although there was dirty glass physically protecting the parrot from visitors and outside dangers, I could see that the bird was depressed and showing physical signs of mental stress.
locked in a cell
for committing no crime.
beak is discolored