animals in Myanmar - captive, free and working

One day in Yangon I went to the zoo. I had read the online reviews which were dismal.
So I wasn't looking forward to it, but determinedly went anyway in a spirit of investigation.



 When it was first established in British colonial times, Rangoon Zoo was probably a shining jewel in Queen Victoria's crown. The day I went I saw shabby, rundown accomodation for animals, and a motley collection of fauna, languishing in the humid air.

The hippo lay in its pitifully small pond.



Sun bears, I read, tend to live alone. Here, though, there were several in a cage. These bears looked unbearably sad.



Other, luckier bears, had a whole enclosure and a moat, but they didn't look any happier for this.



The herd of deer didn't seem so sad. Maybe temperamentally they are more resilient than the larger mammals. Or maybe as a human it's harder to imagine how they must feel.



The elephants were in chains on a concrete floor.



There was a white tiger there but I didn't go to see it. I'd seen enough.

I met a monk who wanted to practice his English. I expressed my concerns about the state of health of many of the animals in the zoo, and wondered if they were ever cared for by vets.  The monk didn't seem too bothered by this. He told me he loved animals and every day fed the street dogs that hung around the monastery.

Later in Bagan, 600 kms north of Yangon, I noticed dogs in many of the temples, sheltering from the intense heat - even though it wasn't yet summer. I thought of the animals in the zoo, and how these dogs led free and independent lives.



Another class of animals are working animals. A cow walks around in a circle pulling a grindstone that turns peanuts into peanut oil.  Cows and buffalo pull carts.




At the end of the day the sun sets over the Irrawaddy River.



Comments

  1. I think blogger ate my comment again.
    I mourn that for many animals (too many) a zoo is the only place where they or their species will survive. Some zoos have improved dramatically. Some have not.
    And some free animals lead a miserable hand to mouth existence. Dogs in India leap to mind.
    And some working animals too.
    Have you seen this story about importing rhinos to Australia as a conservation measure? And our track record on introduced species isn't precisely stellar.

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    1. I hadn't heard of that rhino story. Not clear whether it's tongue in cheek, I think. It is depressing, but unless habitat is preserved, which seems very hard to do, the choice will be extinction like the dodo, or looking at them in zoos.

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    2. Recently read that most of the rhino that were moved to Zimbabwe didn't survive.
      And we are captive breeding canned lions to export as 'tiger' bones.

      Having to counter that with good stories about nature returning to Knysna after the awful fire. The bits of hope in the darkness.

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    3. I suppose we must cling to the glimmers in the dark.

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  2. It is really sad that places like that still exist. Our attitude towards our fellow creatures is oftentimes pretty awful. I can understand why you quickly concluded you had had enough. And thanks for bringing us a report from Myanmar, certainly not a country we see featured frequently in blogs.

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    1. A few years ago I wrote a couple of posts about Myanmar: Searching for nature in Yangon parts 1 and 2: slowgardener.blogspot.com/2013/08/searching-for-nature-in-yangon-part-one.html and slowgardener.blogspot.com/2013/09/searching-for-nature-in-yangon-part-two.html. I guess I could have called this part 3.

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  3. Even here, where zoos, or at least the largest public zoos, pride themselves on the treatment of their animals, I find it hard to enjoy them anymore. Of course the flip side of that is the degree to which so many animals in the wild are endangered by vicious poachers and trophy hunters.

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    1. We have a wonderful acquarium here and I used to go. But they have sharks, and after I compared them with their behaviour in the wild, I can't bear to go.

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  4. A sad post Catmint. Even though our zoos here have improved immensly, I don't visit anymore.

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    1. It is a sad post, Pauline. I should try to think of a happy post next time for balance. I need some rose coloured glasses, I think.

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  5. Super interesting.
    I loved meeting you.
    janicce.

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    1. Thank you so much, Janicce, lovely to meet you too.

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  6. The conditions those poor animals have to suffer is disgraceful. I understand your need to go and see for yourself. My daughter and grandson have just returned today from Poland where they visited Auschwitz.

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    1. I was prepared to visit the zoo in Yangon, but I couldn't bear to visit that former concentration camp. My husband's grandparents were murdered there. I know lots of people do go though, hopefully your daughter and grandson found it a rewarding experience.

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  7. My heart breaks for the animals kept in this way across the world.
    I respect the fact you went and brought this situation to our attention.
    Thank you.
    We all have a voice. I hope people will use it, to make sure over time, zoos will be a thing of the past.

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    1. I must say I feel ambivalent about this. I think maybe some zoos are responsible and humane to the animals, but when I compare their conditions to those in the wild I feel sad for them. On the other hand, we keep destroying their habitat so soon they will only be in zoos and unable to exist in the wild.

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