By Mike Germain
Last week I was offered four free admission tickets to an upcoming event at the DCU Convention Center for myself, my girlfriend, her son and my son.
The event is a sort of travelling carnival, complete with kiddie rides, refreshments, raffles and, of course, the obligatory kiddie zoo.
The zoo was listed as complete with a bull, camel rides, monkeys, and a petting zoo, etc.
Ah, Yes! The annual travelling zoo and carnival is making its way back to these parts!
Because the offer of the free tickets was thoughtful and made with all good intentions, I accepted the tickets and thanked my friend. But we didn’t go. The tickets brought back memories …
Three years ago I had a very similar experience. I came across tickets to this very same event with pretty much the same advertising : “kiddie rides, petting zoo, camel rides, live animals” etc. I thought to myself, this may be a great way to spend some quality time with my girlfriend and her 4-year-old son.
So off we went for the afternoon to the so-called carnival and traveling zoo. Upon arrival, my girlfriend’s son sprinted through the doors! His first experience was some sort of bull, the biggest bull you can imagine, lying in a pile of hay enclosed by a metal fence. The area that this bull was in was barely large enough for him to stand up and turn around. Our four year old was cognizant enough about the situation to ask me: “Is the cow OK? He can’t get much exercise!”
The cage the bull (cow) was kept in to transport when not on display was just as compact as this fencing area – if not smaller.
Next we moved on to the area that had some monkeys. They were displayed in another small cage, and the number of monkeys housed in it seemed substantial to me.
I saw the look on our once excited four year old become very confused. He asked us: “Why can’t the monkeys move?”
This definitely tempered our enthusiasm for the day.
At that point I looked around and saw what seemed to be similar situations at most of the other exhibits: Animals caged or housed in enclosures that seemed much too small for their size or housing too many animals.
My girlfriend’s son was visibly upset and we decided it would be best to just leave.
He thought the animals were “unhappy.”
I love animals of all different kinds, and I love to watch them in their natural environment. I’m not a follower of PETA and quite frankly I think they go a bit too far. However, this experience opened my eyes to the traveling zoo culture, and it certainly made me more sympathetic to the plight of these animals.
I urge others not to attend this event.
If you want to satisfy your love for animals in their natural environment and enjoy the beauty of their existence, I suggest tuning into The Animal Planet on cable network.
Michael (Mike) Germain is a former Worcester City Councilor, a Worcester small biz owner, supporter of the Worcester Friendly House, kids ice hockey teams and other Worcester youth sports teams. He owns a very large parrot!