Rhesus Macaques. Captured on phone during my recent trip to Guindy National Park.

Do we really need zoos in 2017?

Let’s take a moment to talk about the animals. Caged animals.

Recently I found out that there’s a national park located right in the heart of Chennai city and on my visit there I came to know that the actual park is a restricted area and a portion of the national park has been converted into a small zoo and has been open for the visitors. They had named it the Guindy Children’s Park. Once I went inside, I got to see some of the sights which made me think on an issue which may really seem very insignificant to us and our ocean of issues right now but on second thought I wanted to write how I felt about it.

I had always imagined how it must feel to be inside a prison. Standing there by the railing, a feet away from these creatures, I could really see it right in front of my eyes, when I saw this baby monkey locked up inside this 16 feet by 16 feet cage-room. As I approached the enclosure, I could see an adult male monkey moving diagonally across the area towards the door. There weren’t many visitors, and I expected him to be a little excited to see me. But as it turned out seeing people is not exciting when you are doing it throughout your life locked inside a cage. Then I saw this little guy sitting a couple of feet from me.

He sat by a small foot lengthed wall which separated the the enclosure in two parts. He played with dirt  from a tiny hole between the floor and the wall. Occasionally he would run to this other monkey (in the picture) which I would presume was his mother and played with the leftover water in the pit. His mother looked agitated. She sat by the pit and tried to wave her hands across the water (or whatever of it was left inside it, as half the pit was already dry) in order to take out something from a hole inside the pit. In total there were about eight to ten monkeys inside the enclosure. Most of them spend their time lying across the floor.

Cute is used way more often to describe an animal as lovely and beautiful as the one in the picture but my mind had a different word for the situation, it was pity. That little guy right there, would probably spend the rest of his life inside that enclosure. His entire life, if he does not dies of some disease or malnutrition.

This entire situation reminded me of one of my visits that I had made to the Alipore Zoo in Kolkata back in somewhere around 2013. The fence was replaced with bars, and there sat a tiger instead of the monkey. Something remained a little similar. The expression on the face of these animals. It seemed as they had given up on life, it was just a matter of time they would have to spend before they are carried out of those dreadful cages. An unsettling stench surrounded those cages. I wondered, do all these people who come to see them, see that none of them are happy, some thirsty, some hungry. They don’t like the way some people just come and mock them, throw plastic bottles at them, make disturbing noises. They were not suppose to belong there.

The whole situation seemed quite ironic to me. What were we really trying to show to our children? It is 2017, and we still need animals in locked up cages to entertain us? Do we really? If we can identify the Dodo bird from our science books even though the description on the bottom reads ‘Extinct’? Why can’t we do the same for all the animals that still lives? If we really can stand up for our right of freedom would it be too much to ask for an animals to be left at its natural state?

When we have technologies to replicate the real world right in front of us in the most immersive form with Augmented and Virtual Reality, why not use these inventions to help these wonderful creations of nature?

I’m not blaming Guindy National Park or the Alipore Zoo, or any other zoo. I am rather astonished that it’s been this late and we haven’t realised that we don’t need zoos anymore.


2 thoughts on “Caged”

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