For my International Affairs Scholars service requirement, I attended the Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo. As I’m from Toledo, I have gone to the Lights before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo with my friends for several years now. That was why I was ecstatic to go on this trip with my fellow scholars. What made this event a service project was that we were able to get in by bringing five canned goods. Going in, I wasn’t sure whether or not we would be volunteering in some way at the Zoo, or simply enjoying the lights. It turns out we were just there to enjoy the lights, which was really fun, however I wish there was more of a service component. I planned on doing the mural as well, but I had something that day and didn’t make it.
Exploring the zoo was extremely fun. We saw all sorts of animals. Our first stop was the polar bears. I left the zoo a tad disappointed, because all we saw at the exhibit was these statues in the darkness. Upon writing this post, I realized that these statues were actually the polar bears when somebody pointed it out to me. Funny how life works. A similar experience happened when we passed by the bison. We thought they were rocks. The elephant exhibit was very interesting. I learned from a zookeeper that one of the elephant’s tusks were lower than the other tusk because he rests his trunk on that tusk. Also, there was another female who we didn’t get a chance to see because she was pregnant. However, my favorite exhibit of all was the Australian exhibit because I got to see the wombats.
I feel as though the lights turned out to be more of a social event. I was able to connect more to other International Affairs Scholars people. Living on the third floor of Smith-Steeb Hall, I haven’t had the chance to connect with many other IA people, who mainly live on the eighth floor. The friends that I do have in IA, I met in shared classes. After exploring the lights at the zoo, we headed to Olive Garden instead of taking the bus home. I had never actually been to Olive Garden, so it truly was an experience.
I will say, that though I had a fantastic time with my fellow IA Scholars, visiting the zoo wasn’t as fun for me as when I was little. Through out the night, in the back of my mind was the fact that all these animals were in captivity. I understand that zoos nowadays are used more for educational purposes and research, rather than simply entertainment, but it still was a problem for me. Tying this adventure into international affairs, I got the chance to stay with a host family in China the summer before my junior year of high school. While I was there, I visited an aquarium. There wasn’t enough space for any of the animals and it was really disheartening. I also got to visit a market place where they sold animals. The most adorable puppies were shoved into tiny crates that only had metal barring for bottoms. It was interesting to see how animal’s rights are perceived differently among nations. I am in no way saying that these problems don’t exist in the U.S. Animal abuse exists worldwide, and though it is not a major concern among the great politicians of the world, it definitely is an international issue.