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 full of 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 what a far cry they are from the ones these animals 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 it 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 fuzzy thoughts about lovely humanised animals, and all-animal-knowing keepers, and architect-designed-zoo-palaces, and to-die-for views (literally).
...but meanwhile we really 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.