I’m ambivalent about zoos. I feel sorry for the caged animals, while recognizing that a well-run zoo contributes to species preservation. Perhaps the biggest benefit a good zoo provides is education about biodiversity, and these lessons are targeted to just the audience who can make a difference: children.
It seems that San Francisco Zoo makes such a difference more often than not, particularly in recent years which have seen significant investment in enclosure size and design. I recall visiting done years ago, and seeing a Grizzly relegated to a space hardly larger than my front yard – this was a pitiful state for a large animal with a large natural range.
No such sadness accompanied our visit yesterday. The bears had large spaces, the meerkats plenty of ground along with a good vantage point for guarding their terrain, and evidence of improvements either in progress or already completed abounded.
One delightful surprise for me was visiting the farm animals section of the children’s zoo. Though having visited the zoo numerous times, I’d never wandered into this section, and I quite enjoyed the opportunity to interact respectfully with domesticated livestock. I was pleased that there were no cows about, too – I harbor a terror of those large, lumbering creatures!
The weather was perfect San Francisco: fogged-in coast and appropriate for a heavy sweater or light jacket. The beach, a short hop from the zoo parking lot, looked tempting and not for the first time did I wish to have a pied-a-terre right across the street.