I was originally going to post this a few weeks ago, but I felt like it needed some more work before it went up here. About a month ago I went to an aquarium with one of my favorite cousins and her two kids. You may remember me writing about those two kiddos in my “Adventures In Babysitting” blog post. Good kids. Love em’ to death. My cousin called me Friday night and asked me to join them at the aquarium the next day and I said yes without hesitation. Saturday rolled around and she and the kids picked me up from my first ballet class in several months (it totally kicked my butt, but more on that in a later post) and we headed off to the aquarium.
Believe it or not, I had never been to an aquarium before this trip. If I had, I was so little I don’t remember it at all. I knew what to expect though, or so I thought. Don’t get me wrong, it was exactly what you would imagine an aquarium to be as far as what would be there. What I wasn’t expecting were the feelings I got when I started to walk around.
The first animal I saw was a giant sea bass and as I stood in front of the tank embedded in the wall and watched it slowly glide by me, I started to feel this weird feeling in my chest. I felt overwhelmed and anxious, so anxious in fact that I had to look away from the tank to collect myself. I kept telling my cousin “This is tripping me out” and “I don’t know why I’m acting like this.” We continued to walk around and I saw all the various fish, otters, seahorses, sea dragons, frogs, stingrays, jellyfish etc I couldn’t help but think how lucky we are to live on a planet with such beautiful creatures. But still, throughout the rest of the trip, I couldn’t shake that feeling of anxiety.
The next day was Mother’s Day and my Mom and I walked to a local coffee shop for coffee and bagels. We had a wonderful conversation about a lot of different things, one of them being my trip to the aquarium the day before. As I was talking to her about my trip, it hit me why I was so upset the day before. I was angry because I couldn’t help but notice that these stunningly beautiful and pure creatures were stuck in tanks for the entirety of their lives. Creatures that, if it hadn’t been for human influence, would have had an entire ocean or forest to live in. And for what? So that humans can stare, poke and prod at them all day and make a profit off of them?
Why do we feel like we need zoos in the first place? Is it for education? If so, isn’t it best to learn about animals in their natural habitat without outside influence? Or maybe we think it’s for the protection of the animals. Because some animals are going extinct or their habitats are being destroyed and they need a place to live. Well, if that’s the case, then I guess they’re a good thing but what put them in those situations? Or better yet who put them in those situations? I would say that 9 times out of ten, the answer would be us, humans. And that means we are the ones who can take them out of those situations.
Truthfully, zoos and aquariums are not the problems. They are the results of a much bigger problem that we need to address if anything is to change for the better. As much as I love animals and wish I could see more of them, I also respect them as they are. Animals are not put on this earth for human entertainment and we shouldn’t be treating them that way. A frog native to the Amazon shouldn’t be living its life in a tank the size of my nightstand. A sea otter shouldn’t be living in a tank 3/4 the size of my bedroom wall when it would have had the whole ocean to swim in.
I’m not sure exactly what the answer to this problem is, but I know for me it starts with being aware. That’s what I’m trying to do with this blog post, raise awareness. We all make choices every day that either contributes to the well-being of ourselves, animals and the planet or contribute to its destruction. So, let’s make better choices! Let’s reduce our waste, support organizations, and charities that support the well-being of us and the planet. What I know is that there are just as many good charities and organizations that want what is best for all of us. Maybe I’ll write about that in my next blog post…
Hope you enjoyed the post and as always…