Why do zoo animals just lie around?

finn-watching-elephant.jpgWe took a weekend vacation to Atlanta and took the boys to the Atlanta Zoo while we were there. My oldest seem pretty excited before we got there, asking “Are we going to the zoo now?” every 5 minutes. But then once we’re there, we’re telling him “See the elephants eating the grass?” And he says, “Yeah, let’s go on to something else.”

“See the zebra, isn’t that neat?”

“Yeah, let’s go see the alligators.”

I can’t blame him. Elephants eating grass is not that exciting. But I thought that for a 4-year-old seeing a real, live elephant for the first time, he’d be more impressed. Too, the animals were mostly lying around doing nothing, which seems to be the case at most zoos I’ve visited. I don’t know if it’s too hot for them, if the fake trees and rocks are just too boring or if that’s just how animals are, in the zoo or in their natural environment.

One theory is that animals don’t like being caged up in the zoo; they’d rather be in the wild. One gorilla put on a show that could be used to that point. Several gorillas were just standing around, doing nothing, when one runs up to the top of a rock, stands up tall and mighty, and then turns around and basically moons us all, to which everyone laughed. I don’t know if the gorilla was saying “You came to the zoo to see a show, I’ll give you a show,” or “This is what I think of being caged up in a zoo” or if he’d figured out (through conditioning) that if he ran up on the rock and turned around, the people would laugh?

Maybe all of the above.


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