7000 kilometers from their tropical jungle home, it begins to snow. Huddled next to the cold brick wall, two unnaturally dark eyes peer out from underneath a thinning fur coat. Where the wall meets the glass is the only place out of the wind and frost, but it means closer to the indifferent eyes and the endless tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tapping, that becomes the metronome for the rocking. Rocking, back and forth, back and forth, that only stops when replaced by pacing. Pacing with frustration. Pacing at boredom. Pacing to distract from the tapping. Tap, tap, tap. A quick glance through the glass, to meet the apathetic gaze of onlookers with a silent plea for freedom. A glance around the frosty brick enclosure looking in vain for a way out. Then to sit back down in despair. Rocking. Back, forth, back, forth, back, forth. All day. Every day.
Humans have been capturing animals for millennia, either for entertainment, or as an assertion of dominance. From the Samaritans in ancient Mesopotamia 4,000 years ago, to Aztecs in the Americas. Even to Alexander the Great was said to look after a great menagerie of monkeys and bears. The modern zoo emerged in the 19th century designed to educate visitors and impart a connection to wild animals, but it is only recently we have begun to feel empathy towards the captives.
The argument that zoos provide us with educational merit, is fast becoming less and less acceptable. Locked behind bars, worlds away from their natural climate, animals display emotions of despair, depression, anxiety and loss. Far from their liberated kin who are free to roam, and free to live.
Zoos therefore face us with an obvious irony. Fascinated by their wild and wonderful qualities, humans have worshipped and feared animals since the dawn of time, yet it is this exotic nature that is stripped away once caged. It is within this paradox, the futile and cruel reality of animals in captivity becomes blatant.
With 175 million people visiting zoos annually - able to come and go as they please - Zoocation is a response to how we use animals for entertainment and decoration, highlighting zoos as an example of man’s need to conquer and divide. Incarcerated indefinitely, forever waiting and watching. Forever pacing. Forever separated.