Seen it in the wild

I went on a short road trip this weekend and spent some time at the zoo. I have a love/hate relationships with zoos. I love having the opportunity to see wild animals close up. If you’re like me and create nature art, they are great places to find artistic inspiration. For example this Sandhills Crane (see photo) doesn’t breed, winter or migrate where I live. If I drove 5 hours inland, I “might” be able to see one as it migrated between locations. However, a short visit to the zoo gave me an opportunity to see and photograph one close up.

As someone who went to school to earn a Masters degree in Wildlife Biology, I appreciate zoos for their opportunity to study animal populations. Many zoos, like the Smithsonian in Washington DC, offer captive breeding programs to help re-establish wild populations. Humans have created so much habitat loss in this world, that it is important for biologists to study and learn how to re-populate areas with native plant and animal species. I totally understand and appreciate all the education and conservation benefits of a zoo.

Yet, I feel a deep sadness when I see this photo and remember all the great species I saw contained in their human-made enclosures. I anthropomorphize my human emotions when I look at their faces. What are they thinking with all these human faces staring back at them? This photo of the crane was the best one I was able to take this weekend. If I render this photo into fabric, I’ll carry these emotions with me, but I’d rather have seen it in the wild.

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