The Dublin Zoo Sucks
I love zoos, but I then again I hate zoos.
Zoos are sure fun to visit because you get to see lots of really cool animals. But they’re also a glaring and ugly reminder of our own inhumanity towards nature. Being an animal rights activist and then visiting a zoo is sort of like admitting pigs are intelligent and then ordering a full slab of baby backs.
I’m as guilty as anyone of hypocrisy and the double standards within most of us. Worse, even — because I’m aware and troubled by it, yet do little.
That said, zoos become something of a sliding scale of our own judgment and morality. We all know zoos shall inevitably exist, because many people want to pretend to care about wildlife and presume they know all about zebras and giraffes because they happened to see a couple of animals dozing off in an enclosed compound, about the size of a tennis court. For them, it’s the equivalent of being locked inside a bathroom for 20 years and presuming that’s one’s “natural habitat.”
As I said, reacting to animals in captivity is a sliding scale with no absolute truths, and only gray areas.
My love for animals sometimes manifests itself in odd ways. I love animals and would never kill one. But, do I ever love a perfectly grilled filet. Visiting a local zoo somewhere is hardly akin to an active membership in PETA, nor Greenpeace militancy. But whatever city I travel to that has a zoo usually receives a visit from me and Marieta — my moral muse who is an animal rights advocate (squared and then squared again). Ranked, I’d say the best American zoos that I’ve visited in terms of overall conditions for the animals were (in no particular order) — San Diego, Washington, DC, and New Orleans. The best zoo in the world that I’ve seen was in Buenos Aires. Animal parks belong in a totally different category, not quite the same in terms of living conditions. They do tend to be better, since the animals get to run and graze free.
Zoos in Europe do tend to be every bit as good as those in the United States, if not better. Perhaps that’s because most capitals make zoos a national priority. They are often well funded and have reasonably decent quarters for those unfortunate to be called residents. If this all sounds like the International Red Cross grading a P.O.W. camp, you’d be correct.
One big advantage European zoos have over others is benefiting from a more temperate climate. Within Europe, it’s rarely unbearably hot to brutally cold in most European cities, especially in the U.K. and Ireland. For this reason, my expectations for the Dublin Zoo were very high.
Regrettably, I was disappointed. More like shattered. This was one of the worst major zoos I’ve ever visited.
In a nutshell, imagine sad, cramped animals, often in a cold damp climate which they are unaccustomed to, wandering in very little space. That’s the Dublin Zoo. Without exception, all the animals seemed miserable. After about 50 minutes on the grounds, despite paying a 18 euro entry fee (each), we left. We couldn’t take it anymore.
Parrots, which normally live in a rainforest, shouldn’t be shivering outdoors year around when temperatures are in the 40s (F). Tigers should not be confined to a small slope of a hill, left alone to wander back and forth along the wall, no doubt losing their minds. As for the smaller creatures, all I can say is being stuck behind a thin pane of glass and having idiot 4-year-old screaming constantly and people tapping on the glass must be unbearable.
Dublin’s conditions for the animals is fairly typical so far as most zoos go. Rarely are there habitats which are ideal for these wonderful species who should be roaming freely in the wild, were it not for mankind’s incessant predatory history and the poisonous corporate culture of land ownership and conversion of wild lands to opportunities for exploitation — at a tremendous cost to all those with whom we share the planet. However, if animals are going to be corralled for life, the very least we should do is try and make their lives comfortable, provide them with companionship, and maintain temperatures which are consistent with their adaptability.
To be fair, the Dublin Zoo is undergoing a major renovation at the moment. A huge section of the park is under construction, which is expected to be completed sometime later this year. However, from what was observed in the other sections of the zoo, nothing indicated living quarters would be must better once the new cages and compounds are opened.
As I said, this was a sad place. Maintenance was shoddy, at best. And every parent who had a brat in a stroller seemed to be out on this day, despite 48-degree weather and overcast skies.
The Dublin Zoo is a place to avoid. Especially if you’re an animal.