Two sad incidents in Zoos situated in different parts of the world in the last few days have drawn world wide attention to the plight of innocent animals held captive against their will being forced to sacrifice their precious lives to save the lives of blundering irresponsible human beings.
Harambe, a gorilla in the Cincinnati zoo in USA was killed when a child stumbled into its enclosure. Two lions in the Santiago Zoo in Chile were destroyed when an instable man shouting religious slogans threw himself into the lion’s den, stripped naked and provoked the lions who then attacked him. In both instances the fault lay totally with the humans but it was innocent animals who paid the ultimate penalty with their lives for unqualified human folly.
The following YouTube clips dramatically illustrate these two incidents:
These incidents raise fundamental moral issues particularly in the conduct of our relationships with other living beings. We value freedom, kindness and compassion as parts of our civilizational traits. But all these values lose their hold on us when it comes to dealing with non – human animals. The maintenance of Zoos is one of the prime examples of our twisted morality. If animals had a say none of them will give consent to being trapped and placed behind bars in a place euphemistically called a Zoo. Yet, we humans persist with it because it gives us sadistic enjoyment to view others who are different to us species wise but nevertheless living in miserable conditions and great pain. Animals belong to the outdoors. To roam free at will. Not to be shackled and kept inside man made prisons. Unless we take a moral stand on it with a view to liberating these animals we condemn ourselves as morally wretched. Enlightened posterity will never forgive us – this generation - for our moral cowardice.
Sri Lanka has inherited Zoos not from our ancestors but from the forebears of those who illegally occupied our country and made it into a colony of foreign countries. While any good that came our way through interaction with foreigners merit sustenance the bad that is incompatible with our traditional animal friendly cultural heritage deserve to be cast out.
Zoos fall into that country. Caging animals in enclosures without any culpability on their part virtually for life is no longer acceptable to those who prize freedom. Bhutan has shown the way. It has closed its Zoos for all animals except for one or two on the endangered list. The world has a lot to learn from the moral leadership that Bhutan is giving particularly in respect to protection of the natural environment and its fauna and flora. Sri Lanka must re-gain the moral leadership that we gave to the rest of Asia in the pre-colonial period. It is not for nothing that people in our neighbouring countries once upon a time called our people the ‘Aryavansa’ (Noble Race). Let us strive towards making Sri Lanka Zoo Free like Bhutan has done compassionately.
DVA Colombo Chapter Face Book