I have fond memories of coming through the gates at the Oklahoma City Zoo. As we entered, there was the monolith that was Monkey Island. This attraction’s day has long since passed but has made way for so much more. After a little time away, I recently had an opportunity to visit again.
The zoo was always a summer attraction in my memory. It was pleasing to see all the activity on a relatively warm, February afternoon. This was a fun, busy day for many of the animals. There were plenty of people there to enjoy it all. From frogs and flamingos to an orangutan hiding under a flannel blanket, there was a discovery around every corner. Given the size and scope of the Oklahoma City Zoo, it is also a wonderful place to get in some walking!
What Purpose Do Zoos Serve?
I have mixed feelings about zoos. On one hand, they give us a place to see the kind of “wild animals” we otherwise only read about or see on television. It is a wonderful, sensory learning experience. On the other, these magnificent creatures are held captive, away from their native domains, victims of constant gawking. Presented properly, there is a wonderful midpoint between these extremes and I believe the Oklahoma City Zoo walks that fine line well.
As a photographer, I much prefer to see my animals in their native habitat. Whale watching in the Gulf of Maine. Bald eagles and grizzly bears in Alaska. The bison and reintroduced wolves of Yellowstone. There are so many amazing animals to see and, yet, so few that thrive in this modern world. The zoo as a platform for educating the next generation is a luxury. I hope that, some day, it will be a thing of the past. For the present, though, we must do our best to make sure we can preserve a better future for our neighbors on this marvelous rock we call Earth.