Monday, March 22, 2010

Hogle Zoo Visit

We are excited for a fun day of homeschooling! I don’t know why they call it homeschool, since we are rarely home. Today we are headed for Hogle Zoo. Going here always makes me a little nervous. Zoo officials got a little upset at me in August, 2005, when I published an article in ICAN’s eNews about the cesarean their orangutan had. I’ll post it here, just for fun. The update on this story is that Eve and Araca are living and playing together.

Essay: Eve and Araca
Early May in Utah usually brings a few warm days and this year was no exception. We
enjoyed a day trip to the zoo during this warm respite. Hogle Zoo isn’t my favorite zoo, but the kids enjoy seeing the animals. Two weeks later – on Mother’s Day- Eve, a
female Orangutan, had a cesarean to deliver her baby, Araca. When I first heard the news, I thought, “What else would you expect to happen? You have an animal on the
endangered species list, pregnant. What zoo keeper is going to ‘risk’ that pregnancy
and baby by sitting on her hands and not doing anything? And ‘anything’ is enough to
slow an animal’s labor progress.” There were many articles in the following weeks about
the baby’s arrival. Strangely enough, I wasn’t upset by any of them, until I happened to
hear a radio ‘interview’ with one of the zoo staff. The zoo keeper described the baby’s
day, being cared for by the staff, fed formula from a bottle and being held by staff in
furry vests. The radio host joked with her about the care of the baby, asking how the
staff avoided ‘getting messed on’. The zoo employee said, “We don’t diaper the baby,
we want to do everything natural with this little orangutan.” Suddenly, I was so angry I
couldn’t see straight. Here is Eve, whose birth was denied her by staff, who now rejects
her own baby. Here is a baby, whose mother doesn’t recognize or claim her, being fed
formula from humans, being held by humans in furry vests and being shown off
between the hours of 10 a.m. until 11 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. until 3 p.m. daily, and
they have the nerve to claim they are doing everything natural because the baby
doesn’t have a diaper on!
I don’t know the details of Eve’s birth of her daughter. When called, the Zoo will not
give out any details. When asked questions like, “How did staff know Eve was in labor?
How long was she in labor? Was baby in distress at birth?”- no answer is given. You and
I most likely will never get the answers to these questions or to the ultimate one they
lead to, “Was the cesarean really necessary?”
In the end, it might matter if we knew and it might not. What I do know is that there is
a mother who does not know her baby and a baby who does not know her mother.
They did not get to bond after a natural birth. The baby never breast feed. The baby
has not learned to cuddle with her mother and, in turn, may not mother her own babies
naturally. Generations have been affected by this cesarean, in a species that does not
have generations to give to the nervous human.
A quick note: Hogle Zoo itself admits the cesarean is the reason Eve does not recognize
her baby. Here is a blurb from their website:
Baby Orangutan
The baby, born Mother’s Day weekend by cesarean section, is slowly
being introduced to her mom. Because of the cesarean birth, Eve does not
yet recognize the baby as hers. The staff is doing slow introductions, in an
off exhibit area, to help mother and daughter bond.

1 comment:

  1. That was very interesting Pam! Like I was saying earlier today, I wish they'd let you know more about the health of their animals. Like if the zebra's really did die? I'm glad The mother and daughter at least play together now. But I am still saddened by the thought of what they missed out on :(