Something unexpected happened to me in Warsaw Zoo today. Instead of enjoying myself seeing all the animals I felt really sad. Why? Because they came across through my camera lens as being full of emotion, sensitivity and immense intelligence. I connected with them and their pain in the same way I would if I looked upon a human face in pain. It was the same pain of consciousness and existence, a pain of being a place they would rather not be.
Each animal is rendered unique here and you can see its personality shine through. I am aware that I may be anthropomorphising them. However, animals I believe and science bears out, are closer to us than we think. We should recall that many primates including chimps and bonobos share over 97% of the same DNA as us. That means their musculature, physiology and we could deduce – their psychology is like a primal version of our own. If we allow ourselves to feel their emotions closely, we are coming closer to what it means to be fully human and fully animal at the same time.
Ironically, we decided on Warsaw Zoo for our first day in the city because we were so tired and jet-lagged. Other options for a day out in the city include POLIN, the Jewish History Museum and the Warsaw Uprising Museum. Both of these sounded incredibly intense and emotionally demanding. And yet, going to the Zoo was also surprisingly heart-wrrenching too. On the bright side, we did get some lovely shots and videos in. And although freezing, the sun was shining.
Although it was cheery and great to see the animals, the enclosures were not clean or large enough and the animals. And for the most part, they were not cared for as well as they could be. It was like some kind of throw-back to Communist times. Although the animals, as you would expect were absolutely beautiful and a delight to capture. It all felt rather selfish, as though I was viewing them and enjoying them from a privileged place by virtue of me being born a homo sapien and not one of them.
But Warsaw is trying, and going from literally zero and being completely destroyed during WWII and then suffering under communism to becoming an economic powerhouse surely means some growing pains, stretch marks and old wounds needing to be healed. This is borne out by the most vulnerable members of society, the animals.
Anyway after that massive emo moan-fest…here are some terrific photos of some lovely, rare and exotic beasties.
Onwards now to more historical attractions in Warsaw