Every first week of the month, I go to the Winking Lizard to get the “glass of the month” – a drink special that comes in glassware you get to keep. Well, because the restaurant is called The Winking Lizard, I also always get to watch the lizard on display. In the Northfield branch, this lizard is named Sir Nordi and he lives in a small glass room with a few branches, fake leaves, and mulch.
I guess the Winking Lizard iguanas never bothered me too much when I compared them to Miss Hasegawa of Rector (now Mrs. MacLean of Vancouver)’s little window cage for 5th grade science when we would watch Sir Newton scroll up and down his window branch. (What’s up with the knight names, anyway?) But Sir Newton had a great life. He only spent certain times in that window. He was constantly interacting with students, and most of us had the privilege of bringing him home (except for me – I was saddled with the white mouse collection one spring break, but I never won the honors of housing Sir Newton). In other words, Sir Newton was caged, but he was loved and he got a lot of time to roam around.
Sir Nordi on the other hand…. he lives a much sadder life. Rarely do people realize he is an iguana. Most people just ignore him, or maybe press their faces to the glass and tap on the window. Sir Nordi looks lethargic most of the time, but, if you stick around during the right hours, you will see how often he scratches at the glass panes like he knows he’s caged and he just wants to get out.
I used to think that animals were satisfied in cages that represented their natural habitats. But when I see Sir Nordi, I realize this is not the case. Sir Nordi really hates his little Northfield, Ohio prison. He hates watching kids and adults alike poke at him, seeing daily life pass by, never doing more than walking the same branch and scratching the same pane of his little prison. Sir Nordi isn’t happy. Maybe he knows he’s safe from harm and always has food, but that kind of assurance doesn’t replace natural freedom. The little attention he gets at night when someone cleans his cage and feeds him isn’t nearly enough to be happy.
This is why I hate zoos.