Last December I got some pretty nice shots of some Sumatran tigers at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. They live in a fairly large, almost jungle-like enclosure but have to put up with great numbers of humans gawking at them every day as they lurk and pace:
The Folsom Zoo Sanctuary is much smaller; the animals’ quarters are well designed but far less elaborate than those at the Safari Park. These tigers have been rescued from some heartbreaking situations, including illegal trade. They certainly are not tame, but maybe they’re a little more habituated to human contact.
When I visited the Folsom Zoo with my mom last Tuesday morning, we saw only one tiger. Rather than pacing, it seemed to be relaxed and reasonably content.
It’s always difficult for me to see wild animals, especially the big cats, living inside cages, no matter how comfy the enclosures might be. In a perfect world, these animals would healthy and free, stalking the jungle, rarely if ever seen by humans. But sadly, we don’t live in that world. We live in a world where tigers are mistreated and killed and traded as commodities, and sometimes the next best thing we can do is to keep them safe in an artificial environment.
In situations like this, I hope these magnificent animals somehow understand that we truly care about their well-being, and I hope there is at least some measure of contentment in their lives.