We have all been to zoos and circuses, haven't we?
In school, picnics were the most anticipated event of the year, for the most of us. So, in class 4, our class teacher decided to take us to a circus nearby. I remember being ecstatic. This was the first time in my life that I was going to see so many lovely animals perform magical stunts.
It was my love for animals that took me to several zoos and animal circuses. Since I lived the better part of my childhood in the city, these were the only places where I got a chance to come up, close and personal with my favourite animals. When I look back, those are the memories I cherish the most.
However as I grew older, I began to ask questions.
“Why are they chained and caged?”— I remember asking one of my smartest classmates.
“Because they’ll eat you otherwise.”— she said confidently.
“Are they always chained and caged?”
“Yes. Of course! Otherwise they will eat everyone and there will be no circus.” — she squinted.
Slowly my fairytale turned into a nightmare. The animals I so loved and adored, were having the most awful time of their lives. My love for animals now made me hate the zoo.
It looked like someone had sucked the life out of those animals to look more like paintings hung on walls, within cement cages and steel-bars, that may offer a pretty sight and a thrilling experience to one but is ought to leave them with some sort of a sadness lingering around for days. That is how I felt.
Somehow, the idea of entertaining myself at the stake of keeping living beings in cages sounded absolutely atrocious to me.
As we grow older, we learn how to empathize with these animals.
As the years have passed by, all of us have grown up with these mixed feeling about zoos and circuses — awe, delight, empathy etc. As much as we had loved the idea of going to these spaces to witness animals from all across, we detested the captivity they were in, bereft of happiness that every living being deserves to feel.
Knowing everything I know now, I have vowed to never bring my future children to these places that represent fun for us and suffering for these poor creatures.
Just look around and you know what I am talking about. These animals are kept in captivity, in harsh conditions, just for our entertainment. Whether it is the 'World's saddest polar bear' in the malls of China, keeping whales and dolphins in tanks (talked tremendously about in 2013 documentary called Blackfish), or the life for an animal in a laboratory in deprivation, isolation, and misery. There are numerous cases like these and it is difficult to turn a blind eye to them.
It is now a known fact that captivity not only causes depression, frequent malnutrition, injuries from transport and the use of anesthetics and tranquilizers, incidences of both cannibalism and infanticide in animals but also, decreases their life-span drastically.
When did we become so cruel?
Even though we know that animals crave the exact things we crave for — freedom, companionship, family, love and peace — this culture of animal abuse continues to persist.
But are we going to let our kids suffer from the same skepticism that we have faced over the years?
It is very important for all of us to understand that kids need a reason to act upon something. We must henceforth, encourage our kids to witness the fierce environment that animals are made to live in. It is essential to give them a perspective on why something is wrong, in the hope that they’ll grow up to understand.
I would teach them the basic fact that every life matters and cruelty towards anyone, not just humans, is just the worst thing one can do as a human being. I will encourage them to participate in tours across various sanctuaries and see wildlife in its purest form. I will make them see life and understand why is wrong, wrong. I would teach them to love animals.
And, perhaps then, they will grow up in a generation who detest the idea of zoos and circuses, because they love animals.