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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Touring the Denver Zoo

The other day I had a discussion with a friend about zoos when I told him that I was going to go to a free day offered by the Denver Zoo, which so happened to be today.
My friend believes that zoos are inhumane and essentially take the animal out of the animal. They become reliant on humans to feed them and lose any sort of animal instinct that they had in the wild.
I, on the other hand, believe that zoos help protect animals and promote species and conservation awareness. Through zoos people may learn about animals and their importance in the world and thus help protect their natural habitat.
To my friend’s point, I did see some animals today that seemed to have lost it a bit in their captivity, namely a pair of pacing cheetahs. These two cheetahs walked up and down this fence line, instantly turning around when they hit the end to go back the other way.
I only stopped a brief moment to watch these two since it really was quite sad to see. It reminded me of the crazy polar bear that used to just bob from side-to-side at the Como Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota because he too probably lost it a bit being locked in a cage all his life.
But, on the other hand, I took note of several parents reading the posted signs to their little kids to educate them on the different animals. I also noticed several different school groups carrying around notebooks and writing down different facts on the animals, surely for a quiz or a paper down the road. I also, and I think more importantly for the present moment anyway, not necessarily the future, picked up on some conversations parents were having about the animals and how they found a certain point interesting at different exhibits. The one I picked up on the most was at the bear exhibit.
As I was watching the bears I heard a handful of different adults say, in surprise, that it was interesting that the the two bear species on hand, Asiatic (right) and Grizzly, were largely vegeterian and would only really eat meat if it was easily or already killed.
I too was surprised to read it and found it quite interesting.
While I understand, and can appreciate my friend’s perspective on this, I still believe, after my visit to the zoo today, that they do do more good than harm. Some animals may suffer, and some may grow up, having been born at the zoo, like the baby snow leopard to the left, never knowing learning about their true animal instincts, but I believe that it does largely help raise conservation interests, particularly with people that may not have the opportunity to travel to far away countries to witness animals in their true and natural habitat.
At the risk of sounding unappreciative of my visit today, I’d say that my one true problem with zoos, and cultural facilities, like museums, in general is that they’re not typically free to the public. Today was a special free day at the zoo, but general admission can run as high as $12.
I personally believe that there should be a cultural tax for all metro area residents so that different places like the zoo, art museum and history museum are free and open to the public. That way everyone can afford to go and learn about the world around us at anytime.
And I say metro area residents since someone in the far southwest corner of the state wouldn’t necessarily see it fair to pay the same tax when it’s not something readily accessible for them. But, in turn, they would pay a local cultural tax for their different museums.
This way, when they came to Denver, any museum they visited would be free, just as it would be free for any Denver resident to visit their museums when they were in that area.
I know this is all a pipe dream, and that no one would really ever go for such a tax, but it’s something I’m a believer in and believe that it could, speaking long term, improve our knowledge of the world around us.
Here’s to learning and dreaming.

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  1. A Preview of the Denver Zoo’s New Elephant Passage | Jason's Travels - April 19, 2012

    […] what did you think?” one of the Denver Zoo’s public relations people asked me. That was a loaded question, in a way, after I had just […]

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