Photo Essay

Beautiful Creatures


I have mixed emotions about zoos. On the one hand, they give people like me – without the means to travel to the sometimes exotic locations to see these animals in their natural habitats – the opportunity to get close and learn about these wonderful animals. On the other hand, I cannot help but feel sad and somewhat outraged by the captivity of these beautiful creatures.

They look at me with their big brown eyes and it is as if they are pleading with me to release them. Many of these animals are kept in areas that are microscopic compared to their natural surroundings. Yes, some of these animals are saved from extinction and provided with excellent care. Many are born in captivity and know no other world.

I enjoy being able to reach out and touch giraffes and camels and to marvel at the beauty of the wild tigers and lions. I would never be able to encounter these animals up close in the wild. For that, I am grateful to the zoo.

When I study the faces of the monkeys confined in cages, I feel nothing but shame for supporting their captive lives by visiting the zoo. They can look so soulful and sad behind their barriers that one cannot help but feel sorry for their predicament.

But then I think of the joy they bring to many, especially children. The zoo does provide education and awareness to the public. They take in injured animals and nurse them back to health. But there is still a large part of me that wants to see them released to roam wild in their natural habitat, although most may have never experienced another habitat than what they know of the zoo.

Regardless of where I stand about zoos, I admire and respect the animals within. They are truly amazing creatures and I so appreciate the opportunity to see them up close and record their beauty on digital format.

I have visited the two Virginia zoos that are close to me in Norfolk and Richmond. The photos here are from those two locations and are some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy them.

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4 responses

  • Heather Mellon

    Heather Mellon gave props (24 Nov 2010):

    What a remarkable series of photos!! Beautiful, yet heartwrenching too.. I so agree with your sentiments. Very well done! Voted.

  • William Garvey

    William Garvey said (27 Nov 2012):

    Nice story and photos. I feel sad for the animals too, but am glad to get so close to something I would most likely never see in the wild.

  • Peter Tompkins

    Peter Tompkins said (17 Jan 2013):

    Thanks for sharing this with me. As you know from my pics I was overcome with sadness when I looked into the eyes of a tiger. I felt shame when I saw the trainers making other tigers chase after a stuffed bear and jump into a pool of water. I actually in a sick way wanted to see the tiger jump on the trainer and take a big bite. But then they would have to put the tiger down for just being a tiger.

  • Donna Mullins

    Donna Mullins (Deleted) gave props (26 Feb 2013):

    Outstanding essay with wonderful photos! I agree with your words and your love for these awesome animals. Voted!

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