The Zoo, ubiquitously controversial in the animal rights world, was a place I had not been to since childhood. I had played around with the thought of going, the idea jumping back and forth between giving into my curiosity and allegiance to the ethical beliefs that were common ground amongst fellow activists. I was stuck; conflicted. But I later decided that my beliefs on such things are my own, and that any popularized ideas related to said topics were but building blocks for a foundational structure one may or may not want to go with.
So I decided that, even if I had chosen to be firm about any opinions towards Zoos (much like Circuses, but there’s no question that nothing will change how I feel about them), I should at the very least go to observe and fully understand what goes on before forming any final decisions. And hey, I love animals--plain and simple. I go and tell myself that if I see any of what had me against Zoos in the first place, I can witness the accounts firsthand. I do, however, know the other side of Zoo keeping: preservation of threatened/endangered species, breeding, conservation, etc., and hope to be more captivated by that than by anything else. And hell, it was a fun way to spend an afternoon with my girlfriend on our anniversary.
The Los Angeles Zoo was, quite surprisingly, not ghetto. I have joked about picturing a rundown lawn lined with rusted cages housing miserable animals that chain smoked – stupid, yes - but there would be some truth between those words. The establishment seems well maintained, runs a decent program along with involvement in many conservation projects and has adequate housing (although I’d rather see them free). Not too shabby, I must say. Honorable mentions include the California sea lions, mouth-gaping hippos being fed, beautiful girlfriend to explore with, and fresh kettle corn.