I went to the Toronto Zoo
today. It was a crisp
day, so walk
ing around so much would have been miserable
if it weren't for the pavilion
s. Where else but the zoo
can you walk through a door
made of hanging strips of plastic
and instantly be
in the atmosphere
of another continent
? Being a skinny bastard
, I was glad for the constant changes in temperature
to keep me from feeling like an icicle
So I'm filing through these exhibits, walking past families and grinning at the kids scampering around my knees, noting the many diverse results of evolution around the world and the mocking slices of their home environment that they've been provided, and making all the regular cynical observations about our voyeuristic culture and what we must look like from the other side of the glass.
What stuck with me the most was the lion exhibit. They don't mind the weather, so they're outside almost all year. Their enclosure is surrounded by a tall barbed wire fence, set several metres back from the human walkway, which is also elevated by a couple of metres. There's a low wall for you to look over, and growing in a narrow channel along the outside of this wall is a nicely-trimmed hedge of thorny bushes.
The thorns are not there to stop animals from climbing out. That's what the barbed wire is for. They're there to keep people from climbing in.
That, more than anything, makes you wonder who the animals really are: the fact that the "CAUTION" signs (doubly marked "HATARI!") aren't enough. The fact that the zoo has to employ such subtle methods as planting organic razor wire just to protect people from themselves.
Maybe I'm not giving people enough credit, and the flora's just there to complement the exotic environment. But would you be surprised if they added things like that because they've learned about human nature the hard way?