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Mother, writer and daydreamer. Also chocoholic and chick-flick lover. But mainly mommy. To two boys, at that! When not escorting my Elder One (EO) to karate class, I'm trying to get in as many cuddles as possible from my Younger One (YO). And when not doing either, I'm hard-at-work trying to maintain a steady relationship with my laptop. And as for the Man I Married (MIM), well, let’s just put it this way – even though we share a bedroom, our most meaningful conversations are held over the cell-phone!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Zoo of Misery and Wretchedness

We went to the zoo yesterday. The MIM and I with our two brats, BILly Boy with his wife and two brats.

I wish, I really, really wish that I could say we had a blast, but personally, I didn't. The kids were excited to see the animals, of course. Plus, it had been a very long time since we had all gone out together like this in a group, so that was fun too.

But the animals. Oh, those poor, poor animals. Now I have nothing against zoos and circuses -- PROVIDED THE ANIMALS ARE WELL CARED FOR. My eyes and sensibilities were assaulted by one miserable sight after the other.

I've always loved the zoo. Some of my happiest memories are of visiting the Bronx Zoo when we lived in New York and of going to the Mysore Zoo when we lived in Bangalore. I used to think it was quite thrilling that we could get to see wild animals so up close and personal. As I grew, I also believed that the zoo was a safe haven for many of these animals. A zoo was one of the few places where all animals could be looked after, nourished and cared for like beloved pets. I safely assumed that endangered species would multiply and thrive in such a protective and loving atmosphere and that soon enough, we could knock their names off the endangered species list.

But yesterday, I felt these miserable creatures were better off in the wild. I could see the rib cages of the lions. Kings of the jungle, these mighty beasts are supposed to be. Instead, they were nothing more that mere skeletons of their glorious memory. It pains me to say it, but the word that best describes them is 'fleabags', lying there in the sun like limp, stinky dishrags. The giraffes, those tall majestic creatures were trying desperately to lick the 'chunaa' off the walls -- a clear sign of calcium deficiency.
The pool water in the hippo enclosure reminded me of a sewer. The same was the case with the water bodies meant for the storks, cranes, ducks and other water birds. The Calcutta Zoo used to attract migratory birds from as far as Siberia and the MIM was telling me how in the winters, there would hardly be any space on the lakes. because the birds covered every available inch of space there was...and let me assure you, the space is considerable. And now? Just a few flocks here and there and dirty water as far as the eye can see and the nose can smell. Not surprisingly, word about the bad acco and services must have travelled by squawk and chirp of beak to all the four corners of the globe by now.

Not just that, the place is filthy!! The zoo is a major winter attraction here in Kolkata. Families pack picnic lunches and lovers 'chat' behind the bushes. Is it so bloody difficult to throw a used thermacol plate or an orange peel into the dustbin that's right in front of your f*****' face! The whole place was worse that a pigsty, because even a pig worth his pink wouldn't give the place the time of day, unless he was put behind bars like his more unfortunate brethren of the animal kingdom.

And no sign-boards. Anywhere! No maps, no arrows to point us in the direction of the reptile house, the zebras, the lions, the monkey cages...nothing! 'Hello! Anybody there? Could we have some attendants and zoo officials out and about please? No? Say what? They're all at home sleeping on a Sunday morning. Well! What a novel idea, I say. And what about the rest of the week, what do they do then? Oh sleep!! Well good for them!'

Will I go back? Yes, of course I will. If only to see my YO clap his hands and exclaim excitedly, "Maakee, maakee" (that would be 'monkey' folks) and hear my EO try to roar like a lion. To hope that my paltry ten-rupee entrance fee will at least buy a packet of peanuts for the baby elephat.

And if possible, to 'accidentally' push someone responsible for the plight of these creatures, into the tiger's den.


Monika,Ansh said...

You r so right M4. I went to the zoo last year November & have been avoiding going there this year. There is not one decent place to sit & as you said, teh animals are in such a sorry state!

Still thinking said...

OMG! Where are the bloody animal activists now? Is it seriously so bad M4? Actually, in India, we don't have the zoo's or wild life santuaries planned in the right way, what we need is something like what I saw in the movie 'Return to Me'. It should not be just a zoo but a real habitat for the animals. They really don't need cages and gawd! I'm all sad now.

Goofy Mumma said...

M4, I have soemthing awaiting you here.

dipali said...

I visited Alipore Zoo for the first and last time in 2001, with my youngest kid, who was all of eleven then. And we were so miserable seeing the state of the animals, particularly a llama who was suffering in the sweltering May heat.
We felt most helpless, and wanted to get to an authority who could change things, but we never did. It seems as though nothing has changed....

Mama - Mia said...

it is indeed sad to see the state of snimals. i wish they took heftier entrance fees from us if it helps take better care of animals...

i think attitude here is ki insaan ke khaane ke liye kuch nahi hai, toh who will spend money on animals.

nad that really is sad...

i have been planning to take Cubby to the zoo now that he recognizes some animals. lets see how bannerghatta zoo fares!

as for littering, it gets my goat like nothing else! WHY do we find it so difficult to just throw stuff in dustbins!!! its ridiculous!


Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

You're all so right. Sigh...this becomes one more cause to champion! Am seriously thinking of writing to the zoo authorities. Maybe they can approach some corporate houses or NGOs for donations?

@namesake: I feel the same about the entrance fees and was even saying as much to the MIM. And don't worry about Bannerghata. When I went earlier this year it was still as gorgeous as I remembered it, if not more! I just love that place!

Indian Homemaker said...

I totally agree with you M4, I hate zoos, and like you I loved Zoos once.
Reading this made me want to cry. The giraffe licking choona could also be sheer boredom!! They have to have something to do... the description is apt for all Indian Zoos.
I remember the Lioness in Mumbai Zoo - she has a royal sounding name but there was nothing royal about her flea bag with just bones in it... an ear looked like it was infected. I felt like you did.

We who can't take care of children in orphanages or adults in government hospitals expect ny government to take care of animals? They have no knowledge, no interest and no compassion.

More people should read this. I am linking this eye opener of a post to mine.

Indyeah said...

HATE zoos..absolutely HATE them! :((

Monika said...

oops i know what u mean, I worked with banargatha national park here in blore for 1 yr as a volunteer to make it plastic free and improve the conditions and it was disturbing...there were animals whose cages where barely big enough to fit them let along moving here and there

but sigh i had forgotten all this and was thinking of taking ojas to a zoo next weekend... ur post is a wake up call

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

@ IHM: You're linking my post? Really?!? Am honoured that you think it worthy! :)

@ Indyeah: Like I said in my post, I have nothing against zoos which are supposed to be a safe haven and a sanctuary for these animals...not these filthy, flea-infested prisons.

@ Monika: Oh, I love Banargatha! I saw the tigers and deer and lions roaming about and they all looked so healthy. Is there more than meets the eye?
And which zoo were you going to take Ojas too? Maybe it's not as terrible as the god-awful one we have here...

Destination Infinity said...

I have never understood the logic of having a zoo either for the animals or for us! Conservation parks are better but even there poaching becomes a huge problem. It is better that we do not interfere with the wild animals and leave some wild space for them. We are hopeless.

Destination Infinity