Sunday brought us sunshine and a little trip out to Blackpool to celebrate a family birthday. After a few deliberations about our destination we plumped on Blackpool Zoo, figuring that warm days will soon be few and far between. Upon arrival we were greeted by this sizable fellow, a giant tortoise basking in the sunshine. He was so still he resembled stone, until a languid blink of the eye revealed he was real.
One of the highlights of the trip was watching the big cats feed. The zoo tries to replicate the animals’ conditions in the wild. The male tiger used his powerful jaws to pull a hessian sack of meat chained to a log around his enclosure, as if he were dragging his kill away from other predators. We saw a spectacular scare tactic elicited by a lion as he dived for the meat hunted out by a lioness, he emitted a deep roar and pounced.
Rather more refined in their eating habits were the giraffes. The elegant animals stalked about their enclosure quietly munching on grass.
‘I love the giraffes,’ said my son, ‘They’re so peaceful just like you mum.’
It was a pleasure to see so many animals and learn about them as we went. The message we got throughout the visit was one of conservation and raising awareness of issues the animals face in the wild. Whilst I agree that it is better to see animals living wild, rather than captivity, some if not all of the animals here do not know any different. And for some it is a better life than the one they had before, like the elephant who was once in a circus and still displays behaviours related to his experiences there.
What was more distressing was to learn that there are more tigers kept as pets in the USA, than there are living in the wild across the world. Tigers are hunted for their bones which are still used in oriental medicine. The Sri Lankan elephant is under threat from deforestation and humans, as they hunt the animal for it’s ivory.
So if Blackpool Zoo can educate people, raise awareness and money for causes helping to fight preserve wildlife across the globe, then that can only be a good thing.