Every once in a while I receive an email asking me how I feel about the zoo, you know, being vegan and all. Well, I'm not sure how a *vegan* is *supposed* to feel about the zoo, but personally, I think zoos are not only fantastic, but also, incredibly beneficial. I've always been a huge animal lover, always. I originally choose to make a jump into vegetarianism (at the age of 12-14) because of my sympathy and love for animals. And yeah, I'll admit, that's not really the reason I stay vegan now... I stay on this path more for health and environmental reasons, but that original jump and my concern for animals still remains. Learning about these animals and their so different, but important lives shaped so much of who I am today. Growing up I spent hours reading books about animals... fictional novels, educational collectable booklets (anyone remember zoo books?), or any other reading material I could find. And while I think reading is so incredibly important, nothing will compare to seeing an eight ton elephant standing only a few feet in front of you. Sadly, most of us will never see these animals in their natural habitat, but a zoo? It's the next best thing. Sometimes it can be difficult to appreciate and care for an idea or image... but a tangible being, that is right in front of you? That's when a connection and understanding can really be made. I was once told I wasn't vegan because I go to the zoo. And to that I answered: no one is 100% vegan and I'm not expecting to be. I think it would be near impossible, unless you're living off the grid. I mean, am I expected not to sit on my friends couch, because it's leather? Or in my friend's car, because they my have leather seats? Not trim back trees or bushes in my yard because they may be a temporary home for a small animal? Not wash my dog because I'm going to kill fleas? Even sugar, that thing that we all consume almost on a daily basis? Not vegan (it's filtered through animal bone-char). It's crazy when we look around us, and realize how involved we are in the lives of so many other entities... and how they are involved in ours. This (sometimes difficult) coexisting we do, it's not going to change, but if we look at the bigger pictures and are making every conscious effort to not only care for, but learn more about every living thing around us, then what we're doing is a-okay. Maybe some vegans don't believe in zoos, maybe most don't, I honestly have no idea, but I truly believe that Marlowe's interest, love, and compassion for animals will only be enhanced by our zoo trips.
We visit our local zoo about three times a week. It is our park. It is our playground. And it is our learning tool. It is a our nice, quiet, shaded, happy place after daycare. But! About two weeks ago we made a bigger trip down to the Miami zoo (since Marlowe had been asking almost daily for elephants and giraffes). She loved every single second. And spent the rest of the day pulling leaves from trees saying "I feed riraffes!""riraffes kiss me!" I can't wait to take her back.
If you'd like to see more pictures from our bigger zoo trip... click the link, they'll be after the cut :)
ps. an old post: a tiny marlowe at lion country safari.