[Brad]: my ambivalence towards zoos always reaches its peak around the Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla).
Yes, I know they are critically endangered in the wild. I know they are subject to illegal hunting and that their habitat is being diminished at a faster rate than that of almost any other large mammal. I know they average a 35 year lifespan in the wild and a 50 year lifespan in captivity. I know that the good people of Taronga are among the greatest Gorilla experts in the world, and that the round-the-clock monitoring and medical attention these animals receive is second to none. I know they are safer and physically healthier than they could ever be in the wild.
But something about seeing these animals in captivity, and the world of sadness behind their eyes, just tugs at the heartstrings.
It’s crucial that there should be captive populations of Gorillas. But it shouldn’t be. It’s only crucial because of us.
I know that direct eye contact with a Gorilla is not a good idea – they perceive this as a threat and a challenge. But even if it were OK, I don’t think that as a Human I could look these creatures in the eye anyway.