Our field trip left me with many vivid images and made me reflect about my place in nature. The strongest of which would be the pacing animals in the zoo we visited. I know pacing can be used to relieve stress or to reflect anxiety. For example, when I am too stressed out from studying, I often need to walk around the room or go for a walk if I am lucky enough to go outside. Also, when I am making difficult decisions that create anxiety I often retrospectively realize I was pacing the whole time. This leads me to believe the pacing animals were not doing so out of enjoyment. They often would move in a straight line back and forth near the fence that kept them captive. This seems as if the animals would try to test the boundaries as if they were looking for a way out or a weak spot in the fence. While it is impossible to say what the animals were feeling exactly, one can make the assumption that since this behavior is not seen in the wild, it is due to the nature of being inclosed.
Another vivid image was the blind tiger that would have not been able to live in the wild. This image sparked an internal debate where I could not decide whether zoos were in fact morally evil. There is no doubt in my mind that this tiger would not be able to survive without living in captivity. It was easily spooked and would have been defenseless and unable to feed itself. However, was it living in agony? A constant state of confusion? There are arguments for both sides in this case, similar to the argument of euthanasia. Where does one draw the line? Are zoos, as Best would put it, human atrocities, or can we be more responsible, as Hancocks argues, by capturing entire habitats? I think if we as humans think we can make zoos more responsibly, it furthers the idea that we believe ourselves to be godlike and all knowing. This is a dangerous path to take as it has historically led to environmental degradation.
The third image that struck me was while we were at the rest stop on the first day. While outside one could see children and adults alike enjoying the fallen foliage and the view of the valley. This image showed the energy that humans can feel when connected to the outdoors. While this may not consist of what most people think of as wilderness it shows the power the outdoors can have on people even when tamed by humans. Some of our class mates joined in on the fun and could not resist rolling down the hill through the leaves.
The final image that struck me was seeing a bear during our hike. I was one of the few people close enough to the front of the hiking group to catch a glimpse of the small black bear running away from us. It wasn’t my first time seeing a bear or even the biggest bear I’ve seen, but there is always something sublime about seeing an animal like that. I always have the same feeling whether its seeing a large moose, seeing a shark, or anything else that could potentially be dangerous. First there is a chill that runs down my spine and usually I hold my breath, then I consciously slow calm down by focusing on my heart rate and controlling my breathing. This case was a little different because I really only saw the back of the bear and it didn’t seem like a threat, but the initial reaction still occurred. This bear sighting reminded me of the power of wilderness and the dangers as well as the pleasure that comes with it. I think the dangers of wilderness are partly responsible for our attempts to distance ourselves from nature. This definitely plays a role in the dualism between civilization and wilderness.
These images all add to the value of this trip. It was a good way to escape our daily routines at dickinson and get closer to nature, even though it would be difficult to say we truly experienced wilderness. Many of the experiences brought up conflicting feelings about nature and the way we control it. This feeling held especially true while visiting the zoo.