Anonymous Postcard: Claim Detail

Claim No.: 028520090102

The Elephants in the Oakland Zoo

I've recently become a member of the Oakland Zoo. I've got some mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, my young daughter will understand that we are not alone on this planet, that other animals are not just the stuff of picture books. And I also get the part about conservation efforts and the important place zoos have in trying to save a number of species from extinction.

But let's be honest about this, okay? Y'all are in cages. All of you. Gazelles and Tigers and Chimpanzees. In cages and presented to us as, well, a kind of entertainment. Like the merry-go-round rides nearby. So here's what I want to say to you: I think you're astounding. You are, each of you, unbelievably beautiful. I have been aware of the existence of elephants for over 40 years now, and I'm still shocked by what I see when I see you. And, though you may feel yourself to be many miles from your rightful home; though you have been taken from your own families so that my family, together, can be in your presence; though your savanna is artificial and small and separated from every other animal by insurmountable walls and electrified fences; though your daily routines are regulated and your privacy is violated; though my words are rendered meaningless by the profound indignity that is your manmade shrinking habitat and your manmade forced exile -- still I want to say this:

Thank you.

It is small, yes. But that's all I have right now.

Mailed: 2009-04-24

All images copyright Tucker Nichols