A Zoo of a Day

Carol A. Hand


Photo: Lake Superior Zoo – August 25, 2014

After breakfast and bus rides we went to the zoo
to visit the animals on a windy spring day
We talked of other visits and discovered something new
clutching your red teddy bear as you led the way

Other children ran and yelled, tapping glass and poking cages
as we spoke quietly and read each plaque
I’m grateful you respect animals – perhaps it’s because of different ages
You are kinder and gentler and always want to come back

We visited the graveyard of the animals killed two years ago
When the zoo was under water and the seals swam away
to see if the polar bear’s back – you so wanted to know
but her area was still empty when we visited today

I know that being around animals is something you see as fun
Please forgive me – I really don’t mean to spoil it,
but seeing animals in cages where they’re unable to run
alone, living on concrete, doesn’t please me one bit


Photo: Lake Superior Zoo – August 25, 2014

We spent time talking when we went to the zoo
and visited with the snapping turtle in a cage bounded by glass
alone in a basement corner, in a world of concrete with nothing to do
Still the turtle was fed and housed but how slowly its day must pass

without any plants to hide in, without another living creature
so we stayed for a while, and it seemed to understand
that you wanted it to know that it was now the zoo’s star feature
When we left, we decided to learn more about it and help it if we can

You asked to watch a movie before you went to bed
about a baby sloth that was taken from its home
to sell as a pet – she was rescued and healed, housed and fed
and released when she was ready to live on her own.

As you were sleeping peacefully in your new bed
the neighbors built a fire and like the children at the zoo
didn’t stop to think of others – only pleasure in their head
they watched as flames leapt skyway, burning embers too.

With red flag warnings in effect- fire danger was quite clear
yet they added more wood and watched the blaze
only feet from where you lay – my beloved Ava dear
the fire department came – an urgent warning about the zoo of our days.

ava at the zoo 2014

Photo: Ava – Lake Superior Zoo August 25, 2014

It makes me worry about the future that we all face
when momentary amusement is a more important thing
when kindness toward animals and people takes second place
I sincerely hope enough of us will soon be awakening.


14 thoughts on “A Zoo of a Day

  1. Carol, you must surely know I love your poem. I love that it brings the reality, nay, the plight of these animals to bear with such grace and sincerity of heart. Please, forgive me that I bring this up. While I disapprove of zoos, the lives of its captives cannot compare to those who are confined in places where admission is forbid.

    Peace to you and yours; and thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I so appreciate your comments Peter. I was thinking about you as I wrote this. You are correct in pointing out the suffering of the captives on factory farms that remains invisible in the media.

      (Peter, please excuse my delayed reply – I’ve begun spending my mornings working on my book, Rescuing children…, and some days, recording my “fieldnotes” for the Neighborhood Project I described in an earlier post (The street where I live). I began the project yesterday with the neighborhood elementary school and needed to write up my observations while the details were still clear in my mind. I plan to visit the high school tomorrow and meet with an agency that is working with Native youth on Friday. It’s actually been very interesting to me thus far, but it does mean that keeping up with comments will be a little slower.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No worries, Carol. I know the demands of life well enough. I did figure you’d get around to it when able. Good luck with your Neighborhood Project and your book. I do look forward to hearing more about them as they progress.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. No, this was new to me. So wonderful the video, to see the baby reunited with its mother. It shows that all mommas love their babies. And it is a good way to close my day. Chi miigwetch, Carol.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. i felt this wonderfully creative expression
    of compassion for animals
    during a joyful & curious family outing, Carol;
    along with excusable anxiety
    regarding the future.
    may zoo’s memory
    continue shining in
    heart’s memory
    without excessive heat 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We went to Lake Superior when I was a child, but I don’t know if the zoo was there because if it was, we didn’t go. Know you’re busy but your poem, with some illustration would be a wonderful children’s book. You’d might want to make it a project for some of the youth in the neighborhood. And the fire, well, that just makes me take a loud sigh and say thanks for the fire department.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the thoughtful feedback and good ideas, Skywalker! Maybe I’ll see if my granddaughter wants to help illustrate and edit :-).

      Yes, the fire is another matter… All I can do is write out the frustration so I can forgive and refocus on constructive things I can do in the neighborhood…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Amen! You know, Carol, I have two little grandboys and I know they would like to someday visit a zoo, but I don’t know if I can take them (though I certainly took my children and thought nothing of it). It just seems like a prison for animals to me now. Yes, the animals are fed and sheltered, but the psychological stress they go through must be terrifying. It terrifies me. Anyhow, thank you for sharing your experience and your concerns. Ava is a precious little being.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing similar thoughts about zoos, Susan. Zoos leave me ambivalent. I wonder if death is preferable to a cage, or what other solutions there are for protecting species from extinction because of overdevelopment and pollution.

      As always, I am grateful for your kind and thoughtful comments 🙂


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