Admission Ticket to Health
Our country has gotten a bit extreme, don’t you think? We have become so ‘aware’ (I use this term loosely) and yet at times, have catapulted ourselves into an oblivion. In some areas of our lives, we have become so rigid that we have forgotten how to have fun. In other areas, we have strayed far away from our foundations, proclaiming that we are stifled by its moral code, ethics, and rules. Well today, as I sat across the table from a nearly 3-year-old, bright eyed, wide smiled little person telling story after story about her adventures in an often scrutinized place, I discovered the Unexpected Health caged up in all of us…at the zoo.
Now, today’s post might strike up some resistance, and I’m prepared for that. The place that houses caged wildness has been the topic of media mayhem many times. We heard about the tiger who killed a teenager; the whale who killed its trainer. On a less tragic note, I distinctly remember having gorilla poop flung at me through the cages of–you guessed it–a gorilla habitat. Not a good day to have worn white pants! Anyway, zoos force wild animals to live in small confines, endure taunting spectators, and come in close contact with humans…all experiences they wouldn’t typically have in their normal environment. I would guess that there is great unhealthiness in that respect. Animals are not meant to dwell in such arranged, predictable environments, right?
The answer is YES. Animals were not meant to live in such circumstances. But, the Unexpected Health in a zoo is that these predictable environments spark the curiosity of children…and getting the attention of our future generation, our future leaders, is healthy. Tonight I watched my niece tell me about all the animals she saw at the zoo today; the animals she pet and brushed; the animals who were “resting” (her words), playing with a ball, and swimming. It’s hard to imagine that a little person can have such a powerful experience and be able to articulate it…even if only by the widening of her eyes and her crooked, story-telling smile.
At times, when I hear about tragic stories of caged animals reacting, I find that good old soapbox with my name on it and I spout out my theories that zoos are wrong and animals should roam free. But the truth is, after tonight, I can see a glimmer of hope–of health–by the existence of zoos. My guess would be that nearly every zoologist, veterinarian, animal trainer, and animal researcher first got started, got their inspiration, from watching the lions sleeping on rocks, the polar bears swimming in their ponds, and the elephants chewing their cud. A zoo allows children to dream; to bring about awareness of animals from other continents; to instill a passion toward creating and sustaining health for animals in their future career paths.
The circle of life is truly that; as we may take away the freedom of zoo animals, we may also create the education platform for children to give back in the future. As we embody the healthFUL practice of ‘paying it forward,’ we can, on a local level, create health in circumstances and environments that may otherwise be seen as detrimental. The key is to keep that circular positivity in motion. So the next time you feel the sea saw effect of societal issues like zoos, focus less on whether zoos should be outlawed (which you may or may not have any control over) and more on creating a healthFUL educational experience during your next zoo outing. As our lenses widen, we can see a bigger picture…and an opportunity to sustain health. -Until tomorrow, Jaime
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