Visiting the zoo can be a confusing experience for children. Animals they may have seen violently fighting others for food in a wildlife documentary, suddenly appear docile and submissive behind glass walls. Sometimes the animal sits there idly. Other times they display signs of zoochosis, like rocking back and forth or hitting themselves. And every once in a while, they really lash out, clearly frustrated in their cruel captivity.
This video is a clear example of the latter. In it, you see a young girl pressing her face against the window of a zoo’s lion exhibit. At first, the lion merely stares at her. For this lion, as with many other zoo animals, visitors are one of their only forms of stimulation. However, mild entertainment quickly transformed into a violent state of irritation when the young girl pressed her lips against the glass, “blowing a kiss” to the large animal.
Suddenly, the lion stands up on his hind legs and starts clawing exasperatingly at the glass. Just as we saw last year, when a Silverback gorilla charged at the glass in a Nebraska zoo after a young girl playfully banged on her chest, these animals are in undeniable states of distress. They may not act like it 24 hours out of the day, but moments like these remind us that not only are these animals are meant to be in the wild, but they are quite aware that they’re imprisoned. Most importantly, when taunted, these animals will react.
This little girl admittedly doesn’t know any better, having grown up in a society where trips to the zoo are arranged by excited schools and parents. Nonetheless, she is without a doubt a catalyst for this lion’s fit of despair. Her actions and the lion’s reaction reveals the distorted and unjust relationship between humans and animals in zoos.
We can all work to help these animals by refusing to promote the idea that zoos are an educational experience for children – or adults for that matter. For some better options to experience wild animals, click here.
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