HAVANA TIMES — How much does it cost to maintain a zoo? That’s what I wondered when after a visit to the Havana Zoo on 26th Street, I had a chance to see several stars of the post-Jurassic era at the capital’s Metropolitan Park.
The life-sized electro-mechanical dinosaurs there at the Metro Park have surprised everyone who has come to see them over the past few months. As the creatures move, blink and roar, those events are recorded by the cameras of children and adults alike.
During the tour of the park, I stepped back millions of years and, at the same time, had time to think about the future.
I first questioned the usefulness of zoos a long time ago. Some people refer to the educational pretext for continue keeping them around, but reality is quite different.
At least here at the 26th Street facility there’s hardly any information about the animals “on exhibit.” There’s nothing about the food they require, their habits or their personal histories.
The visit to the little dirty chimpanzee cages doesn’t say anything to us about their habitual behavior when not in captivity.
On the other hand, the exhibition of 34 dinosaurs also has several informational boards, and a chart that traces the story of the evolution of life on earth and the various theories about the extinction of the dinosaurs.
If they can create robotic imitations of creatures extinct for millions of years, why can’t they do the same with those who still share the planet with us? If technological progress makes possible the filming and production of magnificent videos about these animals in their natural habitat, what’s the use of zoos?
Couldn’t they convert the space that is occupied on 26th Street with, for example, a true educational center with giant screens projecting these same materials, in addition to providing some life-sized recreations of specimens of various species?
I don’t know how much the country spends in maintaining this agony called the zoo, but I think my idea wouldn’t be so expensive.
This is why I like this current exhibit (which will run through September). Not only have they reconstructed a part of our evolutionary history, but it also shows that it’s unnecessary to imprison animals to enjoy them.
However, among the many mechanical lizards, it was refreshing to have contact with a mere flesh and blood kitten that wandered between the legs of the Tyrannosaurus Rex. How could I not rejoice in her purr? This was a free animal.
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