I love going to the zoo. This past week we took our Granddaughter, and had a wonderful time. We are fortunate to have a world class zoo here in Knoxville, Tennessee, and I understand and appreciate the important work that is accomplished there. Many species are brought back from the brink of extinction due to the diligent work of these dedicated professionals, and sometimes, in rare cases, reintroduced into the wild, a very worthy cause.
We walk through the grounds, take the kids to the petting zoo, eat lunch, watch the beautiful and exotic animals from a distance, and I take a few photos. As I shoot these pictures I believe I’m looking at the big picture, the composition, exposure, focus, and checking the aperture, I never truly see the animal till I get the photos home and load them into the computer.
As I download these shots and begin to examine them a feeling of sadness comes over me. I can’t explain it completely, the animals are healthy, they have lots of room, and I understand the great work that is being done there, but it is a sadness none the less. It has to be the eyes, they all seem to have a listless, staring into the distance gaze, as if they are looking at or for something we can’t see. I realize I am projecting a human characteristic on an animal driven by instinct, and I have never been to Africa, South America, or Australia to see if these animal have the same look in their eyes in the wild, but I doubt it. They are living in an unnatural environment, and the haunting look in their eyes is reflected in my 300 mm lens.
I guess the point to all this is we need to better manage our resources. These animals need to live and grow in a natural environment and “endangered species” is a phrase we should never hear. I will be posting a series of photos this week from the trip to the zoo, please take the time to examine them and let me know if you agree or disagree. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and as always comments are welcome.