Rant and Rave

Percival Bananas: The Zoo Rant

by Tom Magliozzi

Picture this. You suddenly find yourself on the Planet of the Apes. Aside from the fact that you have to associate with Charlton Heston, life is not all that bad. Sure, you have to forage for food and live in a cave. And you can't access cartalk.com or watch "Cybill." But the apes pretty much leave you alone--although a few do think it's fun to shoot at you with guns. Then Percival Bananas--one of those tree-hugging apes with more money than brains--gets the following brilliant idea. "How about we capture a few of the 'people' and put them in cages so the kiddies can see what they look like? We'll treat them pretty well. You know, try to build a 'natural habitat' for them. Feed them every day. Even put a few males together with females and see what happens."

They get YOU.

Are you royally ticked off or what? Is it fun sitting there in the cage day after day? Is it fun having all those snotty-nosed little ape-brats passing by the cage day after day--tossing peanuts (and rocks and Twinkie wrappers) at you? Do you miss your friends? Your family? Are the days endless? Does life suck or what?

OK. You can wake up now and come back to the Planet of the People. You know--the more intelligent, more sensitive, more compassionate species.

Have you taken your kids to the zoo lately?

Why do we have zoos? You can try to rationalize this idea seven ways from Tuesday, but zoos are an incredibly cruel and abusive way to treat animals. And for what? So we can see what a panda looks like? You want to see a panda, go to China. You don't want to see a panda enough to go to China? Fine. Don't go. You won't miss the panda and the panda won't miss you. Proponents may argue that the animals are "better off" in the zoo than in their natural habitats. Percival Bananas probably said that, too. How did YOU like it? Did he ask you? Others may argue that they're saving certain species from extinction. Did the species ask them to do that? Oh, I forgot. We're so much smarter than they that we know what's best for them. Percival Bananas thought that, too.

Whose idea was this, anyway? I'll tell you whose idea it was: Rich people. It's true. Zoos date back to the ruling classes of China (according to my encyclopedia), who thought it would be "entertaining" to keep the animals.

Who the hell do we think we are? Leave the animals alone.

Every time you take your kids to the zoo, you're helping to support this cruelty. Plus, you're taking the chance that certain primates are going to fling their feces at you through the bars. And you know what? I don't blame them. Don't support the zoo. It ain't nice.

That's my opinion.

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