How many times have you seen a sign stating do not feed the animals ? How many of you ignore the sign and sneak some food the animals way anyway ? Before you move on, this is not another lecture on why we shouldn’t feed wild animals, well not completely anyway. I’ll be the first one to put my hand up and say yes I sometimes do feed wild animals, I love it and have had some of my fondest encounters with animals whilst feeding them. Here’s me ignoring the most direct sign ever at Washington Square in New York City feeding the pigeons with one of the regular locals who does the same.
|Bad Stu @ the Zoo|
Here’s a squirrel who manged to grab a cherry or six from me whilst on a recent trip to the States – and I have several other photos of me feeding all sorts of animal on my travels. I’m certainly not in the position to lecture you on not feeding wild animals.
Of course I don’t condone my actions, because there are real reasons why we shouldn’t feed wild animals. Health concerns for both animals and the humans that feed them is probably the number one reason. Feeding nuts to squirrels actually causes the squirrels to loose fur and an example last year of the plague found in squirrels in a National Park near Los Angeles is a good enough reason to keep your fingers right away.
Dependence on humans is another major reason why we should not feed animals. Can you imagine if bears, cougars or dingoes and crocodiles decided it would be easier to wander into our cities to grab an easy meal? Of course some do, but parks and wildlife organizations all over the world employ tactics to minimise this.
|Down Town Vancouver across from Granville Island|
So how can we get a fun animal feeding encounter? Zoos can provide fantastic opportunities for you to feed some of the most unique animals found on earth. I have already written about children’s or petting zoos that can be found at most good zoos, but zoos also have specific programs which allow visitors to feed and interact with animals for an extra charge or sometimes even for free.
It’s really important to remember that unless specifically stated, please do not feed any of the animals at the zoo. Zoo animals have strictly controlled diets and food from visitors can make that animal sick and in some cases kill them. But don’t be afraid to ask the helpers at your local zoo how you might be able to get a feeding experience on your next visit – it really does enhance your zoo visit and it’s a safe way to have such an encounter.
|Disneys Animal Kingdom|