“Under such conditions of diplomatic peace, all animals are content and we can relax and have a look at each other.”
– Yann Martel, Life of Pi
On weekends in summertime, the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. is a parade of marching humanity pushing strollers and licking ice cream. Oh and there’s animals. Nearly 1,800 of them. But what do they think of us sightseeing their territory? Did the cheetah rolls its eyes at the woman with the spotted blouse? Are the giant pandas concerned about the ubiquity of their plushy likeness? Do the alpacas resent being so close to the parking lot?
I’m not a zoologist. The point of this project is not to rehash the debate over whether wild animals are happy in safe, ensconced spaces, or if they should all be released to fend for their own. The question is, if our own anxious masses are the real zoo, then who’s looking at who?