I have never been a fan of the zoo. It has always seemed a sad place for me. Yesterday, I was at loose ends and went looking for a photo op. I went to our local zoo. It is as good as any, I understand. I wandered for several hours and saw animals that seemed bored or putting on a show to interact with the species looking in through the wire fences/bars/glass barriers.
I got some decent photos, but at what price? The price of captivity for most of the animals seems obvious. But, what is the price we pay for this moment of viewing the exotic, far from their natural environments. The pensive Snow Leopard brought to mind this deep felt poem of Rilke. Rodin had told him to go out into
and observe. This was one of those moments for the young Rilke. Still holds for
those of us who are old. Paris
His gaze has from the passing of the bars
grown so tired that it holds nothing anymore.
It seems to him there are a thousand bars
and behind a thousand bars no world.
The supple pace of powerful soft strides,
turning in the very smallest circle,
is like a dance of strength around a center
in which a great will stands numbed.
Only sometimes the curtain of the pupils
soundlessly slides up ─ then an image enters,
slides through the limbs’ taut stillness
dives into the heart ─ and dies.
Rainer Maria Rilke
tr. by Edward Snow