The Circus

Trip Start Jul 30, 2010
Trip End May 29, 2011

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Where I stayed
Zoo Negara

Flag of Malaysia  ,
Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Remember this, — that there is a proper dignity and proportion to be observed in the performance of every act of life."  Marcus Aurelius, in Meditations

Photo-Op day. Let's treat Tsunami (a 6yr old Orang-utan) like a circus act. Let’s force her to sit on a stool and be prodded and slapped until she looks obligingly at the camera for a snapshot with
the volunteers. Let us strip her of her dignity.

Claire was visibly upset and we both spoke to Mas (the WOX facilitator) about how wrong, how demeaning and how sad we thought this pointless activity was. But the others on the project wanted their photo-op of them with an orang-utan; for one it seemed her primary motivation
for doing the project, that an topping up her tan on a beach if she could find one

On a more positive note we gave the food puzzle device we’d built to Tsunami – all the others are too big and strong and would have easily broken it – to see if she could figure it out.

She played with for a while; she showed intense concentration and interest in it for a couple of hours before eventually breaking it. 
Oh well, at least we tried and we did provide one of the apes with a distraction for a while.
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Denis on

It just goes to show that, no matter where you go in the world, you can always find idiots!

rudders on

Yeah, I know. Still disappointing tho'. The organisers of the project have said they'll take on board our comments and that they hope to to stop the photo-op and we've given them a good argument to do so.

The feedback we got from WOS was:

"I am in a way quite pleased to read your opinions of the "photo shoot" -I am quite convinced many volunteers come in the hope of the moment they can post a profile picture on facebook of them arm in arm with an orangutan. Quite often, it is just total ignorance on their part, and who am I to be the prophet of doom all the time? I just keep my mouth shut and let them have their moment (and enjoy the rare occasions when a volunteer quietly declines the offer and stands to the side).

I am however going to take your description of the "event" into the office tomorrow and share it with my colleagues. I think the photo ops really have to stop now."

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