Friday, July 15, 2016

When a Day at the Zoo Turns into a Horror Show

It started as a great idea.  I had no clue that my great idea would backfire and affect me for months - not in a positive way!

When I was a little girl, a highlight of my summer was a trip to the Detroit Zoo.  In later years my opinion of zoos did change as it began to bother me to see the animals caged rather than running free.  I realize that many of the animals in zoos are born in captivity and some have been rescued and given a new lease on life.

I certainly am not one who will rant and rave about this issue. I merely understand both sides.  But, I will probably never visit a zoo.  Ever.  Again.  I do realize that zoos have improved over the years and cages have been replaced with enclosed areas where the animals can roam freely but it still does not come close to what it should be and that is disturbing.

My husband and I have rescued over 30 dogs which made this subject close to my heart. 

Our children and grandchildren have grown up in rural areas so it was not unusual to see a bear wandering down the street and at times, arriving on your deck looking for garbage.

I heard about a "Game Farm" within three hours driving distance and imagined it would be a real treat for our grandchildren to see wild animals in their "natural" habitat.   The date was set.  It would be an adventure.  We loaded up three cars with everything we could possibly need.  Our lunch, umbrellas, granola bars for snacking on, sunscreen, bottled water, and some Frisbees to play with after lunch.

We were excited - young and old. 

Arriving at the farm, I was surprised the rates were as high as they were, especially since we said it would be our treat.  It was $25 per person, no matter what age.  Ouch!!

From viewing the first enclosure, I wanted to throw up.  This cannot be!  Surely the zoo keepers missed this area this morning. But as we continued it did not improve.  In fact, as we got further into the game farm, it seemed the neglect was even more pronounced.

In all of the many enclosures, I did not see one with fresh water.  I questioned one of the workers who was walking by and they said, "It's okay.  In the wild, they do not get fresh water either."  And he laughed.  I withheld the instinct to slap him.  The water looked beyond disgusting and you could SMELL it.

There were three leopards so close to the fence I could easily have reached my hand in to pet them.  They were sleeping.  On closer observation, it looked like they were dying. They were completely listless.  Their eyes were sad and lifeless.  Their fur had skin eruptions that were not healthy.  

At some of the enclosures, I had to bite my tongue to keep from crying and had a difficult time explaining to my grandchildren why the animals looked sick and very sad.

The toys the monkeys were given to play with were garbage cans. Each of the enclosures was DIRTY.  Garbage and debris everywhere.

Many of the areas seemed empty but you could hear that the animals were there - somewhere.  In hiding.  There are absolutely no words to describe how disgusting and upsetting this entire experience turned out to be, and I was determined to do something about it.  


As wonderful as it was to spend the day with family, my head was spinning with thoughts on how I was going to bring this mistreatment of animals to justice.

Each time I talked to an official who I thought would be able to help me, I was met with an attitude of "It is a private facility and there is nothing we can do."

I sent the Game Farm a letter.  I talked to the local radio network and the newspapers. The response was that "Yes, we are aware of it but they are privately owned and managed."

That was a couple years ago and when I received the following words for a blogging challenge called Use Your Words  the memories poured in when I saw the word ZOO. The other words were zoo ~ Frisbee ~ umbrella ~ granola ~ bear.

After this prompting, I went to their website and read the reviews.  I had hoped they were shut down but apparently they are still operating the same.  When you read the following reviews, try to contain your emotions:

"All animal activists should rescue any remaining animal at this game farm to a much better place. Six of us went on a very cold January day and paid a premium for entry. All dilapidated enclosures were empty and very old. The size of enclosures was small, inadequate and inappropriate. The arctic fox and the bald eagle made us all sad. Most of the cages were empty. Do not support and please SOMEONE PLEASE rescue the animals."

"This place is old and weird and smells. Animals are always dying there prematurely and it has been notoriously crappy since it has opened. Overpriced and filled with sad animals. Would never return."

"The animals had ZERO enrichment. They seemed depressed and bored. Read about NUMEROUS questionable deaths, shady situations, & controversies."

The responses to each and every negative and there were hundreds, was the same:

"We are a privately run facility - we receive no government funding.  We are sorry you feel our prices are too high."

NOT ONCE did they address the condition of the grounds or the animals.  The untimely deaths are apparently covered up.

What would you do?  I've exhausted my resources.

Take a peek at the other bloggers in this challenge to see how they Used Their Words. The monthly challenges are always fun and can push you out of your comfort zone as well. The words for this blogging prompt were submitted by When I Grow Up

Baking In A Tornado
Southern Belle Charm
Not That Sarah Michelle
Spatulas on Parade
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy
My Brain on Kids
The Bergham Chronicles


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