If you know me and we're friends on Facebook, you've probably already noticed my most recent photo album devoted to my field trip to the bear zoo. If not, let me enlighten you. Each month, the school wants us to take the children on a field trip. We plan it in advance at one of our after school meetings by making suggestions and taking a vote. One of the Korean teachers, Eun Ah, had suggested going to this fresh hell of a zoo. After having seen the Zhongshan Zoo when Jeremy and I first moved here, I didn't have high hopes for this place. The Zhongshan Zoo was the most horrible thing I'd ever seen.
At the Zhongshan Zoo, you are treated to a menagerie of the malnourished and mistreated animals kept in habitats or cages far to small for their needs. Each animal made me sadder and sadder until we got to the grizzly bear. This big and beautiful creature was stuck in a small cage where China's stupidly ignorant masses would gleefully attempt to feed it cigarette butts and candy. That was when I broke down and I cried. I never wanted to see that zoo again. In fact, when my parents came to visit last year, they'd mentioned they would be interested in seeing the zoo. Until I told them about this experience. My parents despise animal cruelty just as I do. Now with this visit to the bear zoo, I am quite sure they will be happiest not seeing it.
I wish I could unsee what I have seen.
At our meeting, I pleaded for us to go somewhere else on our field trip. Eun Ah assured us the bear zoo was fine and that it wasn't like the Zhongshan Zoo. Either she's never been to the Zhongshan Zoo or her idea of properly treating animals is vastly different from mine. In any event, I braced myself for the trip, knowing I'd have to put a smile on my face for my students.
So, join me on a tour of the most depressing place ever. And just so you know, I sent some of these photos along with an email over to PETA. If you live in China too, please write them about how desperately this country needs to be educated on proper treatment of animals. It infuriates me how people here are regarding this issue but I have to try to remember that these folks were not educated in this way and that a large number of the population never went beyond middle school. See, kids? Stay in school!
Despite how truly awful this mess of a zoo was, I took the opportunity to explain to my students why I did not like the park once we'd returned to school. I know at least one of them listened to me because his mom had written me a lovely note thanking me for teaching her son that animals deserve to be treated with love and respect, and that her son wanted to help the bears.
And now, you. I've already contacted PETA about this situation. You can help these bears and other animals by writing to them too (click here to visit PETA's website). Anyway, I know this was a bit depressing but I had to share it because maybe something can be done to change things here. And to make up for all the sadness, I will end with a super-cute picture of Raelynn: