Last summer I remember visiting the zoo, it was exciting to take my daughter who had started recognizing animals and much as it was exciting to see all these animals in the same quarters, a part of me was sad for the animals. Being that I have seen most of these animals in there natural habitats, I couldn’t help but feel that they were out of place.
The back drop was a lash green landscape, the animals look clean and well groomed and the atmosphere is picture perfect. Everything seems perfect, they have professionals and trained experts around them, taking care of them, ensuring they are provided for the best care. So why did I have this nagging sad feeling.
To me the animals looked misplaced, the Lions in there natural habitat are surrounded by savanna landscapes that they are able to blend into and camouflage to enable them to hunt, flamingos in Lake Nakuru are surrounded by hot springs and muddy looking waters, that make people always wonder how they survive in that harsh environment, the sea of pink you see when you are approaching the lake quickly becomes an image of flamingos standing on one leg with muddy, dirty feathers. At the zoo they were sparkling clean pink.
So do they have it better at the zoo, they look cleaner, they are provided with food, shelter, vet care. So I kept pushing that nagging sadness I felt away, because the professionals say they are well cared for and are provided with first class health care.
I didn’t know what the feeling was, Until I watched a documentary by Morgan Spurlock, about animals in the zoo. He featured various animals including gorillas, elephants and various other animals at the zoo.
The documentary starts with gorillas in their cages where they approach to be fed. They come into the cages to sleep and for feedings and go out to the field for the day. The gorillas were on various medication since they all had health issues. They had heart problems. When the Veterinary, who took care of them was interviewed, she explained how they kept a close eye on the gorillas hearts because it seems like the hearts were bigger and they had blood pressure issues. When asked about gorillas in the wild, in the Congo forest of Africa that she had studied she explained how they did not have similar health problems. The reason could be the diet and also the animals peace of mind. In other words, they are home-sick.
All the animals in the zoo seemed to have a host of problems that were related to them not being in their natural habitats, elephants developed arthritis because in their natural habitat they walk for miles and miles on end.
African elephants in the wild live more than three times as long as those kept in zoos. Even Asian elephants working in timber camps live longer than those born in zoos. 40% of lion cubs die before one month of age. In the wild, only 30% of cubs are thought to die before they are six months old and at least a third of those deaths are due to factors which are absent in zoos, like predation.
So it would seem like the solution for these animals would be to set them free in their natural habitats, for them to have a longer, healthier, happier life. But unfortunately due to the conditions they are provided for at the zoo, they are incapable of surviving in the wild.
These is evidence that home-sickness is real. For people who migrate away from home, they all have similar problems as the animals.
From the outside they may appear to be doing better, they live in a better looking environment where the infrastructure is better and systems work but inside they carry a heavy heart, that feels out of place. Multiple health issues also occur because the food, climate, environment is all different. But for most migrants they get so accustomed to the new environment/comforts that they cant be able to adjust and move back to their natural habitats.