It doesn't matter how 'state-of-the-art' new pens are or how passionate the keepers are, zoos are cruel.
Yes the views are spectacular...
...but look back over your shoulder and you see cramped cages with animals who ought to be in jungles or mountains...
- not Mosman.
It is impossible to mask their misery.
The mood is one of overwhelming despair and it envelopes the hillside. You cannot fail to appreciate how boring their lives are and how they are such a far cry from the ones they ought to be leading.
Essentially their lives are puctuated by food - yes, I know you could say the same about us, but even their food moments have been questionably uninformed.
They cannot forage or hunt for themsleves, nor can they choose their mates, nor their social groups. nor even the odd time out moment that some animals crave.
And when you're thinking all of this and remembering what you've read, you can't help wondering about the whole operations of zoos en masse - why?
Yes the spiel is convincing - conservation, rescue, breeding...who can agrue about any of these plans?
But then pesky little questions start popping into your head.
What are we conserving them for?
What home exactly will these 'zoologically-saved-animals-down-the-track' be going home to one day?
Given the extensive levels of deforestation and loss of habitat is this an utterly loopy insurance policy?
Why are we breeding so much?
Is zoo breeding an industry in itself?
Isn't trading of elephants and tigers just plain wrong?
Is it done purely for crowd-pulling purposes and our thirst for entertainement?
And where do the traded animals come from?
A database? A zoo-broker? The wild?
...and if zoos walk the talk and do everything they're cracked up to do, why is the state of the world's biodiversity in a worse position now than it's ever been before?
I'm not convinced that the Captive Animal Industry does anything in terms of conservation...
I would love to believe that but I can't...those animals are miserable, clipped, imprisoned...they're freaks and we're encouraged to 'ooh' and 'aaah' and then go home and think warm and fuzzy thoughts about the lovely humanised animals, and all-animal-knowing keepers, and their architect-designed-zoo-palaces, and to-die-for views (literally).
...but meanwhile we know that just across the harbour a snow leopard paces her endless figure of 8 and an elephant rocks sideways as her baby watches on and a giraffe stares listlessly across the harbour to the Opera House, far removed from the Himmalayas, far removed from a rainforest in Kerala, far removed from a savannah in the sub-Saharan region of Africa.
Content of my email sent to Australian Research Council May 7, 2013.
Dear Ms Howard,
Please could you provide me with the following information:
Details of all Australian Research Council grants that have been given to various academic institutions for bicycle helmet studies over the past 25 years.
If there are certain administrative processes that I need to perform to facilitate my access to this information, I would be grateful if you could let me know.
Thank you for your assistance and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
------------------------------------------------------------------- (to date, not a peep from the Australian Research Council which in my opinion is particularly poor form given the public resources they have at their finger tips - even just a reply email to say 'thanks we'll be in touch soon' would have been fine)
To expand a little on yesterday's tweet, BN2 was waiting at the King Street intersection on Elizabeth Street when this 'clop clop clopping' noise came rapidly up behind her! Suddenly a high-heel-wearing woman using the pavement appeared alongside and started to scream at her:
'Look at you...you're not wearing a helmet!!!!! And look at you in your heels...you're not even dressed for cycling!!!!!!! Look at you!!!!'
'I'm sorry, who are you?' said BN2
'I'm a lawyer and a human rights advocate, and you should be wearing a helmet!'
'Thank you for concern; it has been duly noted.'
With the lights still red and a posse of other pedestrians pooled in this little corner of Sydney, there followed an awkward silence until finally BN2 got her green light and self-identified lawyer got her green man...
Oh dear ...that love of nanny, so very very Australian!!!
It has taken 8 days to locate an inner tube in Scone!!!!! ...sigh... which basically meant a reshuffle of this week's engagements, then too much time near a kitchen, a dangerous spot of baking...and now full slice tins...not good
But finally yesterday at lunchtime, one was located 26 km away in nearby town of Muswellbrook, taken to the tennis club in Aberdeen during the late afternoon, and then brought home to me last night. It'll be back inside the tyre later on today and then I'll be on my bike in a jiffy hotfooting it off to town with a 'to do' list as long as my arm!
Note to self: when next in Sydney, stock up big time on inner tubes!!!
- never am I going to be without a cupboard full again
Dr Dinh has had a letter published in this week's Medical Journal of Australia (MJA 198  - 6 May 2013), which he then reports on in his article on The Conversation subsequently syndicated to the Brisbane Times...
Nothing he says extinguishes the fact that cycling here has yet to be made 'irresistible' as it has in the Netherlands (currently still a helmet- free country - don't do it, guys!!!), Denmark and Germany .
Somewhat weirdly though, I felt pretty chuffed when I noticed that he'd hyperlinked me in his article at 'publicised court cases'...clearly we (anti-helmet law campaigners) are getting under his and his colleagues' helmet promoting skin.
Oh...but it's so tiresome playing these little games - and expensive...
...ah...now that reminds me to get a wriggle on and submit my freedom of information request to the Australian Research Council (ARC) for details of all ARC grants provided to various academic institutions for bicycle helmet studies over the past 25 years...so...