Saturday, October 4, 2014
My mother had done the pre-lion build-up on the trip to Blackpool Tower Zoo.
"You'll see they even have a lion!"
I was, it had to be admitted, a little apprehensive about being in the same space as a real lion.
After all, he did have the means to rip me to pieces with his bare paws.
A six-year-old human would be no match for a real lion.
I was disappointed at the pitiful lethargy of the giant cat.
He was slumped in a cage.
He looked gloomily around, yawning with a glazed look of prolonged sensory deprivation.
All roaming was limited to uncomfortable shifting of cramped up limbs.
If he had been stuffed, with a roar on cassette loop, I might have been more impressed.
I was left with a sensation of intense sadness.
Yes this was much better.
The owners of the progressive zoo had imagined animal heaven.
Lions were free to roam.
Trees, long grass, contoured, landscaped, enclosure gave a quasi-naturalistic impression of 'wild-life'. (or at least a quasi-naturalistic environment in the Warwickshire countryside.)
The animals seemed much better kept, they could even stretch their legs, and bound around.
Hunting, of course, was unnecessary as the keepers kept all the animals healthy with carefully measured, scientifically designed diets.
Clever people, are scientists.
Breeding programs were a success.
In some enclosures, animals of different species were even mixed.
We could see zebra with zebu, and the odd antelope.
Marvellous how animals of such diverse species could manage to live in harmony for the tourists' greater pleasure.
Perhaps the animals were happy to make new exotic friends.
I am not sure if animals make friends.
We were mightily impressed at the great efforts made to educate children.
We learnt how the zoo was responsible for preserving endangered species.
Out in the wild in Africa, the locals were often inhumane poachers.
Thank God for the World Wild Life Fund!
The Panda was doing a marvellous job in the preservation of African biodiversity.
I would like to imagine that in the future our children will look at the enclosures in which past generations were kept as absurd anachrosnism.
They will be shocked at the controlled diets.
Out of Africa
I was brought up with stories of discovery, of adventurers.
There have been moments in my life when I have looked on at my peers with astonishment.
Whatever happened to grand narrative?
I was shocked that on finishing university, a large number of my fellow 'students' appeared to have their lives mapped out.
They had apparently been studying to get what was called 'a good job'.
What the hell was 'a good job'?
History degrees were apparently perfect preparation for young people to become accountants.
What the hell was an accountant?
I dreamt of adventure.
I met a 'successful' brand manager while working (playing) in Public Relations.
"I hate my job," he told me, "but it's too late now, with the mortgage and all."
He would never perhaps learn of his true nature.
He had become too dependent on his comfort.
He left me with a sensation of intense sadness.