Our view of zoos is incomplete. We do with zoos what we do with our own cultures. The evolution of human cities is at about the same level as the evolution of zoos.
For zoos to evolve further a deeper understanding of animals is required. And for that to happen we need a deeper understanding of what it is to be human. Science and scientific research is a powerful tool for understanding many things, but alone it falls short. Beyond science and the old religions of separation, a change is needed in the way we recognize and relate to ourselves and the world.
Life in all of its forms precedes (or is prior to) science, religion and philosophy, as well as all ideas and theories conjured by humans. Life is senior to those things.
Animals and nature must be recognized as spiritual first, and physiological second. Humans also.
When this really happens zoos and animal parks will become great botanical-zoological temples of spiritual contemplation – secular (non-religious) Temples of the Real. They will not be associated with any of the man-made religions of Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism or anything else. They will be founded on the animals’ direct participation in universal Divine Awareness. In addition to their practical responsibilities zoo-keepers will become “priests of the Real”, supporting the spiritual contemplation of each animal and group of animals as a fundamental part of their job. And zoos will also begin serving a deeper understanding and awareness among all who visit them.
Each city zoo will be transformed in support of the animals’ natural spiritual contemplation. Zoos will be designed differently, taking this understanding into account. Zoos will be regarded and valued as sacred places for all beings to enjoy, protect and love, and be enriched by. A new kind of intelligence will appear in zoos toward the animals they care for as well as the visitors who come to learn and be transformed. And the modern ‘zoo culture’ will develop a more broadly informed perspective for effective conservation and environmental projects worldwide.
It is time for the worlds’ zoos to come up to their evolutionary potential. For hundreds of years the model of zoos has changed little. There have been improvements but still within the same basic model, repeated variously all over the world, sometimes reasonably well, often terribly. It’s an old and deeply limited model.
I want to see zoos the world over start to change. They should continue with all the good science available but they must develop more heart, and more wisdom-intelligence. They must become Temples to the Real, Temples to Life itself.
And I want to see zoo-keepers, along with grounds-keepers, indeed all the staff at every level, become “Priests of the Real”. They will have to start meditating, creating time to meditate with, and alongside, the animals, to study about the animals’ spiritual lives, and to serve the creatures in their care from a higher, more connected, point of view.
Without this development zoos will remain limited, stunted, mere entertainment venues, redundant in their true potential to elevate and inform the very process of Life on Earth.
Todays’ zoos do not know who they are taking care of, who they are serving, and it is time to really find out.