I went to a zoo a few months ago when it was still warm out. I'm opposed to zoos in a general sense, because it seems kind of douchebaggy to lock up a bunch of animals, many of them relatively intelligent, for the amusement of a bunch of mouth-breathing members of the general public. For this reason, I haven't been to a zoo in years. That, and I really don't like the general public, and tend to hate being surrounded by people who are almost inevitably a bunch of intolerable idiots.
For most of our walk around the zoo, I was pleasantly surprised. There were things that pissed me off, like assholes in the butterfly room touching the butterflies (it damages their fragile wings), and the small enclosures for animals smart enough to hate being locked up, but I enjoyed being able to see all sorts of critters up close. I was particularly fond of the reptiles, because they're too stupid to really hate their lack of freedom so much, and they're just completely awesome, like scaly science fiction monsters, here to devour your face clean off of your skull.
Everything was going relatively well, until we got to the tiger enclosure. That's when I got really pissed off.
We were watching the tigers going about their business when a family strolled up to the fence near where we were standing. The morbidly overweight matriarch of the clan began clapping and yelling at a tiger who was sitting down, facing away from us.
"Hey!" she yelled, clapping her hands. "Hey! Hey, tiger!"
I wanted to yell at her. I wanted to say, "Hey, you ugly bitch, this beautiful creature could and would eat your whole goddamn family if it wasn't imprisoned for your amusement." I wanted to tell her how disgusted I was with her. I wanted to lock her up in a cage and make her do tricks to entertain me.
I wanted to push her into the fucking cage and watch her get eaten in front of her horrified family.
I generally like animals, but I very often dislike people. Seeing an amazing animal trapped in a small space while a free-roaming, slack-jawed jackass yelled at it was an ugly contrast. For the rest of the day, I was in a pissy mood, thinking about how what I had witnessed happens all day long, every single day that the zoo is open. It seemed so totally unnecessary. What good is served by locking up a tiger so some assholes can look at it? Most of those jerks would be just as happy sitting at home eating McDonald's while watching TV commercials and rooting for their favorite American Idol contestant.
When I heard recently that some dickheads got attacked by a tiger for taunting it at a zoo, I can't say I had any sympathy for them at all. In fact, I wished that all three had been killed by the tiger instead of just one of them. They euthanized the tiger, so if you're keeping track of kills at home, the score is 1-1; everybody loses. At least she was able to maul the two that she didn't kill.
I imagine a scant few of the loudmouthed cretins who taunt animals at zoos would dare taunt a human prisoner safely locked behind correctional bars, even though any tiger can kill a person more quickly than all but the most powerful of humans. Perhaps it is the fact that these animals are locked up specifically for human amusement that emboldens people to act like shit-flinging monkeys.
There are currently more tigers in captivity in the United States than there are tigers in the wild. Sadly, this means that zoos might play a crucial role in their survival at all. For this reason I support the occasional eating of human visitors by zoo animals. If people realize the penalty for taunting a creature might be death or a severe mauling, people might be more hesitant to behave like the kind of assholes who deserve to be killed by tigers. The tiger who escaped apparently could have escaped at any time, but never felt the need to go attack people until it reached its breaking point. If there's any lesson at all to be learned from this brutal attack, it's that tiger enclosures should all be like the one at the San Francisco zoo: inescapable until the tigers have had enough of you and your fucking bullshit.