Av had an event in Little Rock which turned out to be fun. We had supper one night at Big Orange — we all really liked it — the atmosphere was cool (it teetered on trying too hard but still stayed on this side of it)
Av had a hamburger, which they’re known for, and said it was great. I had the pimento cheese app for my entree and it was similarly good.
We stayed at the Marriott SpringHill Suites Little Rock West which was fine. We were only in Little Rock for one night and weren’t going to spend much time there, so we just stayed stayed at a hotel close to what we were going to be doing.
Trying to figure out what the more interesting hotels are in LR. The old Peabody is now the LR Marriott. There’s something called the Burgundy Hotel, and they have other big ones like Doubletree and Embassy, but I think *the* hotel is the Capital Hotel (which has Molton Brown toiletries, always a good sign). Will have to give it a try when we’re staying for more than just a few hours.
The Heritage Farm section just opened this spring with petting zoo
On our way out, we passed by an elephant doing some tricks. I don’t know if tricks is the right word here. He (or she) didn’t want to do whatever this person wanted. A zookeeper was telling a small group of people about the elephant and history, etc. When the talk was done, I mentioned to her that I was so happy that the Ringling Brothers had decided to retire their elephant show from the circus.
I sort-of expected we would agree and keep walking. But that didn’t happen. In fact, she was shocked that I thought it was a good thing.
Did I know how well the circus animals were being cared for? Was I aware that they live a beautiful life just by virtue of being Ringling elephants? That they have a huge sanctuary for elephants when they’re not on the road? Did I know that Ringing elephants didn’t do anything in the circus they didn’t do in nature?
She rattled off these questions without pause for my opportunity to answer so fast, I got the idea this perhaps wasn’t the first time she had to educate someone on the topic.
No, I don’t think that elephants were only doing in the circus what they do in nature. I wasn’t prepared to get out my phone and show her pics of Ringling elephants doing this and this and this, which probably elephants are not doing of their own will in their free time. Or how traveling from place to place, then being directed by someone with a stick in their hands to perform just can’t possibly be the way elephants are supposed to live their lives. I wasn’t interested in being confrontational. So I thanked her in a super nice way for telling me about their treatment and we left.
Maybe Ringling does have a paradise awaiting these elephants now, but I am still very glad that they will not be performing.
I’m not an authority, and there’s so much I still need to learn about this subject, but I think zoos have to be reinventing themselves — doing all service, conservation for example, for animals rather than just displaying a menagerie for entertainment. Teaching people how to best care for their animals at home: cats, dogs, etc — and being good caretakers of farm animals and the like.
Perhaps an explanation of why animals are at the zoo in the first place is a good idea. Breeding animals which are going extinct? Rescued an injured animal who can never be released back into the wild? Rehabilitating? Research that is going to benefit the world?
This essay on the history and future of zoos is very thoughtful, and includes the term “charismatic megafauna”.
My charismatic megafauna: