Today is the first day my knee doesn’t hurt since I turned it a week and four days ago. I’m having trouble identifying exactly how good it feels because my entire left leg is sore from walking with such a pronounced limp. Calf and thigh are both have sharp muscle strain pain. In addition to that, my knee is super tired still. It hasn’t been bent much for all this time, so movement is taking some reacclimating. I haven’t tried to see what I can do – how far it can bend and how much weight it can take – for fear of sending myself back to square one, but signs are good.
Signs are especially good considering that I went to the zoo with my niece and friends on Monday. I walked with an exaggerated limp and wasn’t near my typical levels of excitement and energy, but I didn’t collapse at any point. I was wearing a brace that forced the limp since it can’t be easily bent, but even so my leg was tired from the start. It’s not as bad as coming off a few months laid up, as I’ve experienced with previous injuries, but it’s surprising how much a week destroys your fitness. I’ve walked and biked almost constantly for the last 7 years (and played sports before that). I haven’t been down for this long in all those years. Try to keep your head still for an entire day and see how much your neck hurts.
Even without a leg, I forced out some activity. Since I’m not in pain today, I think it was a good idea. The zoo was fun but my niece is only 10 months old so her interest varied dramatically. Being a holiday, the zoo was uncomfortably crowded. (The reason we went on a holiday is long and boring, but suffice to say it was forced.) It was difficult to get close to the exhibits and we needed to if we expected a baby to find the zoo interesting. The few of the more obvious animals – the chimps, elephants and alligators – kept her attention pretty well. But when the animals were hard to see, she didn’t search them out and looked at other things, like the water or people passing by. Assuming she could process all these things, she might have thought a zoo is a place to watch a bunch of weird people congregate. A little unfortunate but she seemed to enjoy the trip, regardless of how many animals she saw.
While at the zoo, my friend and I started talking about displaying animals in such a way. It’s important to note that zoos vary in quality, and when I talk about good or bad aspects, I expect there to be some standard level of care. Dismal upkeep and straight out abuse are obviously bad. But in more subtle aspects, I wonder how to feel about zoos. On one hand, it is nearly impossible to match the type of life an animal would experience in the wild. Zoos may do their best to increase enrichment, it’s never going to get there. That’s a shame but it doesn’t necessarily mean the conditions are horrible. Most people have seen Black Fish or have heard about it, but it’s rarely so simple as this is wholly bad and that is wholly good. Many zoos are highly concerned with conservation and science. There are reintroduction attempts. There is rehabilitation. There is breeding. There is public education. And there is science. Frans de Waal, for example, is one of the most respected primatologists in the world and he worked at a zoo for ages when he was writing some of his great papers. Important research is done there. Not just for curiosities sake either. Learning animal behavior can help conservation efforts by focusing on what specifically would help the animals the most.
Zoos also allow the general public, including me, to see these animals in person. Any social psychologists out there know how important it is to interact with what otherwise would be an abstract. The world beyond us hard to make more than a theory. Seeing the animals up close makes them more real than TV could ever hope to do.
Sometimes the animals look sad while wandering around their enclosures and it makes me question the existence of zoos. But I really don’t know how much of that are my attempts to anthropomorphize these animals and how much is real.
This is where some research would have helped, but we were walking around a zoo which isn’t the time to pull up scholar.google
Had some Simba moments so she could get above the crowds.