FREE IN A ZOO VERSUS CAPTIVE IN THE WILD?

“Hail Jail!”Says Chuma in the book Across the Bridge by Mwangi Gicheru; my personal favorite.

“The house for all…” he continues, “the only house where a government minister and a pickpocket dine together and discuss matters on equal terms.”

He expresses his love for jail as it is the only place where equality is exercised regardless of social class. To him, the free world is full of hate, greed, struggles for power, assassinations and social injustices.

I agree with Chuma.  Most people dread the thought of captivity. They even fight to be free or rebel against their captors.

On the contrary, others will do anything to get back to the incarcerated environment where they are safe from the dangers of the free world.

Well, these are people. They will plead incessantly to be free. Free to love, hate, and move, eat, drink, act and think. But they will wander hopelessly until they are completely lost. Then they will look for a way to enslave themselves in religion, drugs, responsibilities and relationships.

Now, before I strike a wrong nerve, let me pose this question. Why do we encage our wildlife?

Luckily, the camping experience in Laikipia County exposed us to an encounter with wildlife both behind cages and roaming in the wild. Nature Club arranged for its members to visit Mpala Research Centre and the Ol Jogi Conservancy.

I am not one to judge. Actually I do judge, but like every other terrible person out there I judge internally and never tell. When it comes to the caging of wildlife, I thought that there could be a rational explanation to justify it. A reason that is good enough to justify why we compromise the freedom of animals out in the world and deem them better behind cages.

At the Ol Jogi conservancy, due to some unforeseen circumstances, we had to see the animals in cages. One of the students asked why. One of the major reasons was because some of these are problem animals. These are animals that get into the homesteads and feed on the livestock or destroy crops thus causing great damages.

Another major reason that justifies this is the need to protect threatened and endangered species. In the wild, many species especially those that can easily wander from the game parks are in danger of poaching. Threatened species are well fed (I believe) and protected. It is not as exhilarating for them but… Well, tough luck! Sometimes things have to be done even if we don’t like them. It’s called tough love.

I watched a few people turn pale when they saw the elephants bound in chains. When the rest of us were being thoroughly entertained and taking selfies by the dancing elephant, others kept their distance and lamented.  Once again, tough luck! Despite the elephant’s possible anguish, the joy it brought to some was somewhat a justification for the caging of animals.

Injured animals are also kept in cages as they are treated, fed and protected from poachers since this is the time that they are most vulnerable. Therefore, as much as we feel that encaging animals is wrong, it still acts as an opportunity to protect both the humans(from problem animals) and animals(from poachers). It is not really a win-win situation but rather a glass-empty/glass-full situation. Like any other terrible situation in life and being the fake optimists we are, we should choose to turn all our lemons into lemonade.

Now I can’t for the life of me understand why people incessantly make noise concerning this issue. Yes, they claim that they conserve animals and yet will not resist the aroma of a nicely baked chicken. Tell me, you conservationists…Why is it okay to rear cows and eat them and wrong to domesticate a buffalo and roast it? Why is it wrong to domesticate a cheetah for company but okay to domesticate a cat for company? Hmm? If it is really justice we are seeking, shouldn’t we seek it for all animals?

I am almost running out of the novelty bull roll and before you ask me to reimburse the time you have used to read this article, consider my stand on caging of animals. IT IS NOT RIGHT!   IT IS RIGHT! My point is conservationists really expect you to put your foot down when it comes to such matters whereas many things are neither black nor white. What I am really against is the human-induced suffering that these animals have to endure in these zoos. However, if the wild animal is happy being domesticated… who are we to take that away from it? On the other hand, if an animal is rehabilitated, cured or not threatened, it is necessary that it is released back into the wild.

(Image: http://www.pexels.com)

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