What is happening in Zoos? Definitely not entertainment!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/entertain/

Another baby polar bear has died at Berlin’s Tierpark zoo. Only twenty-six days old, the cub died less than a year after its mother had already lost another baby.  Then the manatee died…

During the past few weeks via internet news services, I have seen the horrific news reports of a frightening amount of deaths that occured in international zoos . Animals (monkeys, aardvark, meerkats) burning to death inside enclosures where they should have been safe in London/Woburn end of 2017/beginning 2018, animals (baby lion cubs) being killed in Copenhagen zoo purely because of being unwanted – they were bred then killed. Copenhagen Zoo management is very cold and unconcerned about this barbaric practice, they even sound proud about it. For them it is just business as usual.

Here in South Africa we have horrible zoos like the East London zoo and others, as well as countless dodgy animal facilities which support canned lion hunting by the practice of ‘petting of wild animals’. Their owners grow filthy rich off the utter disregard of uninformed or oblivious tourists to the plight of these exploited animals. It is criminal.

Further back during the past few years there was the shocking incident of the perfectly healthy and lovely baby giraffe Marius who was shot with a bolt gun in cold blood in this same Copenhagen zoo 2014 and fed to the lions – they even put on a grim horror show of publicly dissecting him – plus many other deaths at that zoo. The terrible statistics at Cumbria (500+) and Dublin zoos over the years as well as many unnatural deaths reported at zoos in USA during especially 2015. All the many animal deaths due to neglect at Lahore zoo…the bear starved to death after denied water and food for weeks in Toledo zoo (2000), Adelaide, Georgia, Iraq, the list goes on and on, countless instances of cruelty and death in zoos and marine parks all over the world – more starvation and death in zoos located in third world and war torn countries.

Zoo animals are totally at the mercy of keepers, even when humans violate their captive spaces (for instance Harambe and Jabari the gorillas, tigers, elephants, lions, wolves, wild dogs and then the massacre of 2 wolves, 2 grizzly bears, 18 tigers, 17 lions, 6 black bears, 3 mountain lions, and 2 monkeys in a private Ohio zoo …) the captive animals were killed to ‘protect’ the irresponsible intruders.

Marine parks continue to support the absolute carnage of Taiji – the dolphin killers. It is shocking that there is no public outcry to close down all zoos and marine parks. It is estimated that approximately 5000 healthy animals are killed annually in European zoos only. How many are killed internationally? amntoi

Read this shocking article for more facts. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/16/killing-animals-at-the-zoo

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said ‘ You become responsible forever for those you tame’. People managing zoos seem to disregard that and are only ‘caring’ (providing food and shelter) for as long as the animal entertains them and brings them monetary gains.

http://www.thejournal.ie/dublin-zoo-animal-deaths-3283532-Mar2017/

Yet the public just can’t be bothered to care about this. They seem to be much more worried about stupid trivial things like yet more reports of someone allegedly touching someone’s shoulder without permission – years ago. It is a sickness, a mass hysteria, a disease, a disgrace. Social pox. You have it now I want it too. Me too. I wanna get attention. Shameful. Attention seeking behaviour at its worst, the kind that ruins other people’s lives. People should get over their petty little selves and start doing something to stop atrocities like these zoo murders and daily animal genocide of dolphins, rhino’s, elephants, polar bears, pangolins, lions, tigers and others from occurring. I am not even going to start with the needless slaughter of millions of animals daily to feed masses of greedy people. That I tackle by spreading my vegan/vegetarian message daily in the book I co-authored with my daughter.

Stop obsessing about who said what to offend some group or person somewhere and get on with helping real causes. Stop this murderous business of zoos.

After a three year career in a large Zoo, as a huge animal lover I became quite opposed to zoos in general after looking at what happened behind the scenes – and I left. From afar they seem to do a good job in education and conservation, even to #entertain but actually they are just glorified jails and death camps. Jails for innocent animals who are there at the mercy of their keepers to provide entertainment to the public. Now, there are most probably a handful of good ‘zoos’ out there, run by excellent zoo keepers who love the animals in their care with all of their hearts.  Unfortunately those are the exception and those are the people who don’t last very long in this cruel, heartbreaking zoo world. The people who are broken by losing their animal friends due to ‘zoo exchange programs’, ‘culling’ or sickness. But mostly you have monsters like the poor excuses for people mentioned in the above articles. They should not be allowed to ever be in charge of animals – they are psychopaths – defined as persons suffering from chronic mental disorders with abnormal or violent social behaviour…

I have seen a beautiful adult male gorilla pine away and gradually eat his own fingers and toes out of frustration/boredom until he eventually passed away. I have held his hand throughout a routine operation on his feet and it was a life changing event for me. You just can not see life the same after that. You experience the grandeur of this huge gentle animal slowly being erased by his captivity. He affected me in much the same way as seeing captive animals doing tricks for their human jail keepers in marine parks and circuses. It is morally and ethically and atrociously wrong on all levels.

I (cat lover extraordinaire) have seen feral cats trapped and shot inside their cages by zoo staff. I have seen horses and donkeys ‘donated’ by their cruel owners (race horses, pet horses etc) after becoming unwanted for some reason, then caged and shot at the zoo to provide food for the carnivores. I have seen unwanted pet bunnies donated by families become crocodile food. I have seen countless boxes of innocent day old chicks going into the zoo gas chamber in order to become food for the carnivorous animals. I have seen countless mice and wild caught doves being killed thoughtlessly by zoo staff, being bashed to death on the side of a vehicle nonchalantly by a keeper whilst chatting to another person – all in a day’s work. The animals need to eat, I know that, but they should not be captive in the first place.

I have seen seals go blind because they were not allowed the necessary salt water to swim in.

I have witnessed a heap (30 to 40) of dead animals after a night of ‘culling’… animals young and old regardless of age – babies, adults – who were shot while trapped inside their enclosure at night, amongst their fellow prisoners and families – with no way of escape. These same animals who were a popular stop on the ‘Night Tours’ given to the public. What terror they must have felt on the night they were not peacefully observed but violently murdered in cold blood by their keepers. I have seen animals killed by poachers twice inside the zoo grounds. One, a ground hornbill, was pulled halfway through the fence and left to slowly strangle to death. The zoo is like an open air abbatoir, just with a few damaged survivors who live to see another day. With the guy in charge having the foot of an elephant for a wastepaper basket I guess I should have known what to expect…

During my time there I was only able to rescue one baby donkey (named after me), one sheep named Bebe, two ringneck chicks (one who was with me for 26 years) and two kittens (Darkey and Misty), but I was helpless against the sheer numbers of animal deaths. I fell in love with many zoo animals, a few of whom I will mention here. Firstly a crazy, tame, beautiful purple gallinule named Nathaniel who came when I called him and who sadly was later stolen by a zoo visitor. I discovered and came to love the amazing lemurs from Madagascar long before the movie – the most fascinating creatures with velvet tongues – I was constantly picking hibiscus flowers and feeding it to them to the chagrin of their keeper. I loved an orangutan named Laggies who lived a sad and lonely excuse for a life in a concrete cage until his death. I spent as much time with him as I could to the annoyance of my boss, bought him things to play with and a huge pink blanket to keep him warm. The vision of him taking it from me gently and draping the blanket around his shoulders like a pashmina will stay with me forever. He should have been able to be with other orangutans and climb real trees…be free…

I got to know a baby elephant rescued from a cull in the cruel Kruger and who died at nine months old after caring keepers stayed with him through long nights to keep him company and did everything they could to keep him alive…

These animals creep into your heart and they become such a big part of your life, like your work colleagues whom you interact with daily. You get to know their likes and dislikes, their personalities and needs. When you let yourself be groomed by a chacma baboon named Jackie to distract her while the keeper treats her wound you learn that behind the friendly facade still lurks a wild animal. Wild animals are not pets. You learn that a baby rhino can run very very fast, especially when you intrude into her space…You learn that you don’t wear sunglasses while working an arms-length away from devious little spider monkeys who have very long arms….You learn that you never ever underestimate a hippo EVER. You learn that elephants are amazingly intelligent and always remember what you have done to/for them. You learn that majestic raptors should never be caged. It is a crime against nature.

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Most important of all you learn that animals are just like us. They have feelings just like us. They can be sad, hungry, sleepy, tired, angry, loving, protective, gentle and afraid. They need to be treated with love, respect and consideration not innocently jailed in an eternal death row…

None of us will accept being put on display in cages for the entertainment of others. Why should they be subjected to it…and worse? What can we do to end this cruel human obsession? It is time to close down all zoos and relocate animals to safe nature sanctuaries. Areas should be set aside for this purpose only, there are millions of square kilometres of National Parks which could be converted to sanctuaries and managed by real, caring individuals or trusts. The commercialisation and exploitation of animals should end. Now.

Inia

 

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Of surviving in a cruel, messed up world

Life and its daily challenges can easily become overwhelming when you are on your own. No man is an island but I sometimes feel like one. A deserted one. When you have nobody to talk to, you have a lot of time to do introspection, a lot of time for unfortunate sad and bad memories to surface, a lot of time to think about what is wrong with yourself because you are supposedly not good enough to be anyone’s partner. Forgetting that you are not bad, just different to the norm. You sometimes have too much time to think about negative things and if you are an empath like me, someone who cares deeply especially about animals and the environment, you can take on all the hurt in the world on top of your own.

The difficulty is that you have nobody with you in your corner, nobody to lean on, nobody as ‘your other half’. To clarify, I have my daughter whom I love dearly but she is six hours away and has her own life to live. People ask me how I cope, and my answer is that the day I figured out how to meditate was the day I said goodbye to calming tablets, anti depressants and sleeping pills. Guided meditation works for me – especially when my mind is too full of painful rubbish thoughts to concentrate.

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When my estranged father passed away 6 months ago, it was the guided meditation of Jason Stephenson that helped me through the grief, the pain, the hurt and the anger surrounding that. When a year ago my last two beloved pet cats (I don’t say that lightly, I loved them with all that I am)  passed away from terminal diseases within a few months of each other, I was the closest ever to giving up. The crippling grief of their suffering overwhelmed me and I just wanted to die to be with them. They were my loving companions, my world. And lately the loss of my beloved bird…my beautiful 26 year old bird who talked to me and made me laugh every day. I had nobody left. I was able to continue only because listening to guided meditation stopped the horrid thoughts that I was to blame, that I could have done more to help them, and lessened the overwhelming grief a little.

I would have been so easy just to grab for chemical relief to end all – but as none was unfortunately available to me, I had to cope on my own. For me personally, the visualisations of the waterfall, the magic book and the library at the top of the winding staircase worked the best. Here it is…medicine for the broken soul.

I used meditation to fall asleep every night for a long time. Being saturated with grief stopped me from becoming relaxed enough to fall asleep on my own. One visualisation suggested was of flying up high in the clouds, something I have always dreamed of, looking down on everything, leaving it behind, but unfortunately it was during the worst runaway fires around me that consumed our previously beautiful area and all I could see was smoke and pain. Pain, suffering and death – so that one did not work for me at that time.

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What is utterly shocking and deplorable is that meditation is frowned upon and basically vilified as it was during my very conservative christian upbringing. The christians would rather have you mindlessly/uselessly pray to a non existent/non caring god and subsequently go crazy with sadness or get addicted to chemicals before you do anything which can be linked to ‘eastern religions’. To make it clear, I oppose all religions – I have said before that religion is the root of all evil – and meditate only because it works for me. It is a wonderful way of calming yourself and coping with the reality around you.

Another thing that works for me is yoga. I have recently started doing it which I must say is 100 times harder than what it looks. My favourite yoga channel is with Sanela here.

I was in a road accident about 30 odd years ago and have struggled with back pain ever since, so other forms of exercise are too harsh for me. I even had to give up belly dancing which I absolutely loved because it hurt my back too much. I tried the gym thing when I was young but on top of being ridiculously expensive, I can happily deal with not being subjected to top volume noise levels and being soaked in other people’s sweat and germs… So I usually stick to beach walks and climbing stairs. During our tourist season though, the crowds around here are oppressive, I am not good with lots of people around me – I love peace and quiet – and so I prefer to stay indoors. I miss the beach so much! Yoga gives you time to relax while exercising which sounds strange I know, but the calming music with nature sounds which accompany it gives you the same vibes as meditation. Calm, peaceful, tranquil.

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I don’t have a TV to take my mind off things, only internet. That sometimes drives me up the walls with all the stupidity and terrible, negative news which I try to steer clear of but fail sometimes.  One good/great/wonderful thing about the internet though is access to amazing free meditation programmes and music. JasonStephenson, TheHonestGuys, YellowBrickCinema and MeditationAndHealing are my favourites.

It is fascinating to most, but logical to me, that most people who meditate and do yoga are vegetarians and vegans. Why? Because those are the people who actually care about not causing harm, the people who can deal with introspection because they know that they don’t live a cruel lifestyle. Not eating animal flesh or other animal products I feel is totally beneficial to meditation because you are made so aware of who you are deep inside, what you are doing with your life and your body, what you put into your body, that the thought of eating and causing pain and death, introducing that into your body, is atrocious and will never resonate with your peaceful self.

Good luck with your own journey of self discovery.

Namaste. The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit in you.

Inia.