Saturday, February 21, 2009

Zoos and Bigfoot

I have mixed feelings about zoos. On the one hand, they offer a unique opportunity to study and observe animals to better protect their populations. On the other hand, the similarities between zoos and jails cannot be ignored. Many of the animals don't seem to mind, or even be aware of, their own captivity. Other animals seem to be very aware of it, and some have even taken to behaviors that seem to indicate depression. I have seen gorillas in the Los Angeles Zoo vomiting into their hands, licking it up, and vomiting into their hands again. I returned more than a year later and witnessed the same behavior. I'm no zoologist, but that seems like an unhealthy behavior, both physically and emotionally.

Trying to stay focused on the positive aspects of zoos, I recently visited the Oregon Zoo in Portland, Oregon. My goal was to obtain thermal imaging video of the various primates on display for comparison to a hypothetical future thermal video of a bigfoot.

Knowing that the Oregon Zoo does not have gorillas, I was hoping to film the orangutans, of which the facility has three, a male and two females. Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for these apes, the exhibit is undergoing renovations. The orangutans are currently being held in an enclosure that is behind glass, and thermal imagers cannot see through glass.

Even though my plans were foiled by the glass walls, they did afford me a good opportunity to observe the young male orangutan, Kutai, up close. Thinking of sasquatches all the while, it struck me how wide Kutai's shoulders were, especially when a sasquatch's shoulders might be a full foot or two wider than this tropical cousin's. His hair was coarse and long, almost matted in areas, which brought to mind similar descriptions from eyewitness accounts of bigfoots.

At one point, Kutai was walking around his enclosure and approached the glass wall from where various families and I were watching. He picked up a piece of cardboard that was lying in the enclosure, and covered his face with it as he walked away from us. The crowd laughed and anthropomorphized his behavior by saying that he was playing peek-a-boo. Personally, I think he didn't like us looking at him, and I don't blame him. Certainly orangutans, shy and arguably the most intelligent of the tropical apes, like a little privacy.

My hopes of filming apes were not totally dashed that day. Even though the chimpanzees were also behind glass, probably to keep them warm in this temperate climate, the sun broke through at one point and they were allowed into their outside enclosure to enjoy the weather. That is when I obtained the following footage, which is also posted on my website, in the "Research" section.

There were a few surprises awaiting me at various locations. While observing the polar bears (seen below with the helmet of its most recent victim), I looked down and saw giant human-like footprints on the floor. They showed no claw marks and were over 16 inches long. Unfortunately, they were a graphic depiction of the carbon footprint of industrialized nations.

Near the penguin exhibit, I ran across an interesting sculpture. It seemingly depicted a man telling stories to a young girl, surrounded by various animals native to the Pacific Northwest. The animals included wolves, bears, cougars, and a large upright ape looking over the shoulders of the man, apparently listening to the tale. Besides humans, there is only one large ape-like species in the Pacific Northwest...

One of my greatest concerns is that my bigfoot research could play a role in the eventual captivity of a sasquatch in a zoo. I have a very hard time seeing the other great apes in captivity, knowing that they are not very different than us in more ways than most people like to admit. Knowing that the world's largest currently-recognized ape, the mountain gorilla, does not survive in captivity, I have doubts that a bigfoot would fare much better.

Certainly to have any chance of success, the enclosure would have to be beyond the size and scope of most current exhibits. How could it be ensured that the sasquatch would not escape and endanger itself and others? Juveniles, as well as larger bigfoots, have been observed climbing trees and rock faces, so the enclosure probably could not be outside with an open sky. It is my opinion that the sasquatch intelligence is far greater than even that of the orangutan, and the Oregon Zoo's website comments about the challenge of making the orang enclosure "Kutai-proof". How does one make a cage "bigfoot-proof"?

Whereas I hope to one day glimpse a sasquatch in the wild, I hope that I never see one in captivity. I believe this would be morally wrong, and akin to keeping individuals from isolated and "primitive" human tribes on display. Zoos are a type of prison designed for the well-being of animal species, and less so for the individual animals themselves, though most modern zoos are a far cry from their inhumane predecessors. I hope that the long-term study of sasquatches happens on rural homesteads that experience repeat visitations by these magnificent apes.

I hope, when the time comes, humans will respect the 'squatch, and keep them out of zoos.

1 comment:

  1. I have issues with people wanting to capture one of these creatures.

    1. I dont think you could keep one in captivity very long because how this animal lives and its way of life I dont see that happening.

    2. Some people believe this animal can become invisible which I cant say is true personally because I havent witnessed it. I dont rule anything out with this animal though.
    I read about an Indian tribe that believed it could turn into any animal at will.

    3. Its wild now and it enjoys being in the wild so I say let it be.