Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Not-Wild-Enough America?

WEST YELLOWSTONE, MONT.—Among the many sights I've seen at Yellowstone National Park in the past two days have been those of wild animals prancing around in what I guess one could call their natural habitats. To wit:

A bison... elk...
...and a couple of moose

Don't get me wrong; I've been as gratified by the sight of these animals—creatures I certainly don't usually see in my neck of the central New Jersey woods—as much as the next guy. Still...a part of me, while fully taking part in the gawking and photographing of these creatures, thought back to Ric O'Barry, the impassioned dolphin trainer who, in the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove (2009), believed that Flipper was smiling on the outside but crying on the inside while in captivity. Not that these particular creatures my family and I glimpsed were literally smiling, mind you (just look at the photos)...but I couldn't help but wonder if these animals were at least somewhat conscious of their place in Yellowstone National Park as essentially objects of show for us vacationing human beings. Do any of these creatures cry inside as we snap snap snap our cameras, giving them the kind of attention similar to the way paparazzi photographers give celebrities?

Or am I simply thinking like some kind of extremist in the PETA-as-depicted-by-South Park mode?

I have to admit, though: seeing these creatures up close was still pretty cool. I mean, look how close a shot I got of that bison! Awesome, ain't it?

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