Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Reflection from a Day at the Zoo

Yesterday I was able to visit the St. Louis Zoo for a few hours. I haven’t been to the St. Louis Zoo in a very long time (for those of you who don’t know, the St. Louis Zoo is free so if you ever get a chance to visit, do!). Penguins are some of my favorite creatures on Earth and a few years ago the zoo installed a new Penguin and Puffin House. For whatever reasons, I never made it to the zoo and didn’t get to see the Penguin exhibit until yesterday.

Anyway, I was walking around the zoo yesterday looking not just at the penguins, but all the animals. After having worked in the Science Center at Timber-lee last year I made it a point to spend extra time in the herpetarium (reptile house) and watching the prairie dogs. I also surprised myself by how much I enjoyed strolling through the insectarium.

As I made my way through the zoo I was reminded by how fragile the world we live in is. So many creatures are on the verge of extinction. For example, did you know that there are only about 450 Siberian tigers left alive in the wild? Siberian tigers are so few in number that there are no longer tigers left in Siberian and instead of being called Siberian tigers that species is now known as Amur tigers. It’s so tragic that such a noble, fascinating, and ferocious creature might be wiped off the Earth in the next few years. What is even more tragic is that they have been killed off for fur and teeth.

Walking through the zoo reminded me of a short trip I took last week to the Chicago suburbs. I had a couple of teaching interviews in the suburbs last week. I took advantage of the journey and visited and spent the night with a best friend that I haven’t seen in nearly two years. As I was driving from one town to the next I saw a sight that made me laugh and cry at the same time. I was driving along a highway and I passed a farm with a barn and silo and small field. Surrounding the farm on three sides were all of these cookie-cutter homes that are so expensive (about $200,000) that no one I know personally could ever afford to buy one. I laughed because that single farm looked so out of place, but I cried because if I ever drive on that road again, that farm will be gone and replaced by another subdivision of ugly cookie-cutter homes or a strip mall or convenience store.

People, come on! Do we really need another convenience store or strip mall? Do we really need any more department stores? Do we really need to be ripping up land and burning natural habitats just to try planting Westernized farms that aren’t going to grow properly because the way people farm in the Midwestern U.S. doesn’t work in South America and Asia (In case you’re unfamiliar with a rhetorical question the answer to all the three questions posed is no)?

We’re killing ourselves and we don’t even realize it. Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised. I mean, even though I don’t have the specifics, the Bible has given me a rough outline about how things will end. So much that I see around me affirms that. I guess that I was just shocked by how far we’ve fallen and that we are much closer to the end than I imagined.

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