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2012-05-06 Zoo’s Safari Park Again

Cattle Egret
Wild Cattle Egret nesting at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Escondido, California.

Knowing the annual pass for the zoo I bought to gain access to the nesting colonies of egrets and Ibis was due to expire soon, I made three visits to both the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park in May and June 2012. While the creatures in their collections are often amazing, I still feel uncomfortable with the concept of caged animals. “Caged” might not be the most ideal term in this case. The San Diego Zoo pioneered the practice of cageless exhibits. Moated enclosures were conceived by Harry Milton Wegeforth when planning to create a zoo to house the many exotic animals abandoned by the exhibitors following the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. It wasn’t until 1922 the first cageless exhibit the world had ever seen (for African Lions) was opened. While this was a huge advance against the cruelty of prior caged exhibits, a cageless enclosure is still a cage. The joy nature photography provides me comes mostly from the environment I’m in, and a park crowded with tourists cannot deliver that experience for me.

Cattle Egrets on nests were the only wild captures for me on this visit to the Safari Park. Captive subjects include Elegant Crested Tinamou, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, African Lion, Mantled Guereza, Lesser Flamingo, Cheetah, White-faced Whistling Duck.

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