It is no secret that I love animals but what I found quite confronting today was the petting zoo at the street festival I was helping out at. Before today I had always loved the petting zoos and would spend much time with the animals. Mu children following in my footsteps also love the petting zoos and will take every opportunity to cuddle a rabbit, or stroke a duck, or feed a baby goat or chicken.
Today though I actually had to help with the setting up of a petting zoo so I got a behind the scenes if you like view of what it really looks like , before the people arrive and see the animals frolicking around surrounded by happy children eager for a pat while parents watch on or take happy snap shots.
Today I got to see these beautiful animals in a way I wish I hadn’t. Cramped in tiny cages. Stacked on top of each others. Dirty and squashed and hungry, without clean water. It really was very heartbreaking and has ruined petting zoos for me forever.
I tried to justify in my head that petting zoos are a great way to introduce animals to children, that they are a positive experience, but after today I no longer see them like this I’m afraid. I know that people would argue that Zoo’s are very similar and they may very well be right. I have never had a behind the scene experience at a Zoo. I hope for the animals sake that they are nothing like what I saw today.