At the end of August, I was fortunate enough to be welcomed on a trip to the Masaai Mara in Kenya through Langara International Service Trips (LIST). This trip was special for a variety of reasons. We were the first students from Langara to make the trip, as well as the first college or university from Canada to go on a Me to We service trip. On a more personal note, Kenya has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember, and I had been looking for ways to give back after completing my diploma at Langara.
This trip changed the way I want to travel. While I still think I’ll go on fun trips with friends who want to live the tourist life, I can’t see myself enjoying them as much as I did when I was immersing myself in a new culture and learning about the lives of people there.
I know a lot of people are against zoos. I also know that a lot of photographers are against photographing animals in zoos.
I’m not particularly opposed to either.
That doesn’t mean that I support all zoos. There are some plain awful ones out there. But zoos that do more work for conservation and restoration than charities are out there. Zoos that fiercely love their animals. Zoos that know that the animals they keep are ambassadors for their species and that if people can’t see how wonderful these animals are, they might not be as inclined to protect them.
I’m not opposed to photographing them because it also allows me to share these animals with people, and I get a chance to take photos of animals I may never get to photograph in the wild, whether that’s because I won’t be able to visit their homelands or they won’t be around when I do is still to be determined.
The Woodland Park Zoo meets all my criteria for a good zoo. Nothing I saw there suggested mistreatment of the animals in any way. The habitats were beautiful and large. And the animals seemed so happy — particularly the otters, who were having a grand time chasing each other in a circle around the habitat.