Head in the Sand

Our world has gone made.  Legislating about everything rather than looking at what needs doing. 


There is no right or wrong, just opinion.  This is the case when we only do ‘right or wrong’ based on the outcome we will receive from others.  So I don’t cross the road or I will get a smack from my mum.  Or I do my homework so I can get my pocket money.  It starts when we are kids.  We are trained not to think for ourselves.  Not to consider the best thing to do.  We are trained about what is right or wrong.  We stop seeing things for the greater good.  Because we are not facilitated to consider that.  We stay small.  We are trained to be selfish.

Then we grow up, and don’t speed our cars to avoid the camera trap.  Or we save up our money to buy the designer jeans so our friends will think we are cool.  And we drive past the beggar with judgement justifying our ignoring his plea.  Or we celebrate the supermodel, calling her a good role model for our kids.


Then we get fed information that keeping animals in captivity is wrong.  And we become activists so we can have our photograph taken next to a banner that identifies us as a goodie.  Or we campaign against a zoo, by pressing the like button on facebook at the same time as we eat our fast food burger(no thought to how hectic the burger is for the world).  We sign petitions without doing research.  We make uniformed rash arguments because our friends think the same way.  In essence –

We worry too much about what others think about us, and too little about what is really going on.


I am not saying that animals in captivity are ‘right’.  There are good zoos and aquariums and bad ones.  But here are some thoughts.

-          We have come so far in the captivity industry.  Welfare is improving daily.  And this is great, not only for the animals in our care, but also for the lessons it teaches us about their wild counterparts.

-          The ‘wild’ is in trouble.  Welfare in the wild is scary.  Animals are going extinct at a rapid rate.  We need captivity – to learn, to propagate, and in hope – to reintroduce animals back to the wild when the wild is ‘fixed’

-          The captive industry is hugely responsible for any empathy that people have with nature and the wild.  My children grew up in South Africa and have been fortunate to go out to see and spend quality time in the bush – and yet I know that they have great empathy with the ocean because of time spent in aquariums – where they were educated, and given an opportunity to get close and create connections to something beyond themselves.


If we phase out captivity – is there hope for nature?  I would love to believe this.  I fear, however that the result will be no animals in sight for the majority of people on our planet.  The documentaries will muddle dinosaurs and dolphins, dodos and giraffes.  Nobody will know what is real.  The remoteness of the critters will mean that nothing will be done to help the animals with a chance.  Virtual reality will take over.


I had a discussion with an educated cashier yesterday when I purchased some items at a hardware store.  I explained I did not wish for a plastic bag as it was unnecessary waste and ended up harming the world.  He said how?  I told him about animals – dolphins and turtles that die as a result of ingestion, and pollution from plastic and how it was in the fish we eat, and making us sick, and that plastic takes a long time to break down.  His retort – ‘That’s not my problem.  I don’t eat fish.  Plastic eventually will break down.’ 

Connection is everything.  When I have spent time observing a monitor and how it reacts to the world.  When I have looked into the eyes of a brindle bass.  Touched an eagle ray.  Watched a Queen Coris steal food from a Starfish. 

When I feel a part of this world, rather than the world owes me a favour, then I will begin to be a responsible citizen. 


Let’s stop shouting.  Let’s look closely at what needs doing.  No legislation will take the place of good heart.  If a zoo is bad, then let’s focus on that zoo.  Get it fixed or shut it down.  If an aquarium is good, lets get 100 000 kids to visit per month.  Change the kids and show them care.  If there is litter on the floor, pick it up.  Go for swims in the ocean, walks in the bush.  This is it!  No second chances.  We are part of something awesome!



"Do or do not; there is no try." Yoda



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