Free Day

The first week of every month is marked by free admission to a large number of City attractions.

sleeping sumatran tiger

The San Francisco Zoo, for instance.

A visiting friend and I went to the Zoo to poke around, since admission was free and all.

I hadn’t been to the Zoo in awhile, and I have to say, I was a little depressed by the offerings. I mean, the animal habitats seem to be better, especially the new African exhibit, but there were a large number of empty exhibits, depressed spectacled bears, and lugubrious birds. I had forgotten the intensely sad part of visiting zoos, even zoos which claim to be active in conservation. The SF Zoo seemed more sad and run down than I remembered…most of the displays appeared to be gently decaying. I’ve heard that the Oakland Zoo is superb, and it makes me think that maybe the two should combine forces.

The SF Zoo does have some cool conservation projects going on, but they also had a lot of animals living alone, or with other animals of the same gender. I’m not really certain how this assists with conservation of endangered species…it seems like the Zoo could trade animals with other facilities, or make more of an effort to breed animals. Perhaps by moving some of the collection to other zoos, they could focus on conservation for a few core species, and actually make a difference.

I was glad to see the elephants gone, since they had seemed really depressed in their previous accommodations. But the hippos still looked sad, skulking in their dirty pool, and the polar bears had expressions of desparation and misery. I felt…dirty, in a way I never had before.

The only exhibit that I sort of liked was the new African one, where a number of species mixed together in a large enclosure. It seemed more natural and less forced than the others, and the animals looked much happier. I suppose being alive in captivity is better than being extinct in the wild, though…

I have a feeling I will not be back to the zoo for awhile…I’d rather take advantage of free days to look at the museums in the City, since captive art doesn’t disturb me nearly as much as captive animals.

[zoo]