The Clean Hippie

Seeking the sustainable life in New York City

The a-little-bit-hypocritical Bronx Zoo November 19, 2009

Filed under: Food,green angst — Alden @ 8:34 pm
Tags: , , ,

This post has been a long time coming. But here it is.

About a month ago Scott (the bf) and I took a day trip to the Bronx Zoo. We loved it. The cute little kids running around in Halloween outfits, the adorable cuddly-looking monkeys, and the informative bird exhibits were all great. I even enjoyed seeing the ornate architecture that spoke of a different era in the late 1800’s, when the zoo was built.

But something bothered me. I wasn’t surprised to see little placards at almost every exhibit which would describe the various ways humans degrade the habitats of animals and put them in danger. What did surprise me, after all this posturing about the dangers of pesticides, is what the zoo serves as food. When we went to grab a bite from the cafe, nothing there was organic. It was all standard, terrible fair: chicken tenders, french fries, hamburgers, hot dogs, and Big Gulp-size plastic ups of electric blue frozen drinks. What?

If people judge you by your actions, not by your words, well, I feel safe calling this a Bronx Zoo Fail. They can put up signs all day saying how bad pesticides are, but what kind of message does it send when they serve industrialized fried chicken composed of ill-treated animals and monoculture crops? Crops that discourage biodiversity and use those very pesticides the Bronx Zoo vilifies? It doesn’t say much.

In fact, even though I’m not a vegetarian, it smacks of bad taste to offer kids chicken sandwiches right after they were shuttled through a cute exhibit that does its best to educate kids about how cool live animals are. I wonder if parents, after they’re done pointing out the chickens in the farm exhibit to their toddlers, feel weird about plunking down a plate of tenders in front of them, covered in ketchup?

Of course, Scott and I only went to one little side cafe. Perhaps there are more options elsewhere. And I give the Bronx Zoo props for their eco-friendly composting restrooms at the entrance. But the next step should be to put their words into action, and educate children about the connection between what they eat, and the livelihoods of the animals the zoo works so hard to promote.

So go ahead, pay a visit to the zoo. Learn about the animals with which we share this earth. But bring your own food.


2 Responses to “The a-little-bit-hypocritical Bronx Zoo”

  1. Michelle Says:

    I know you wrote this a while ago but it’s still a big problem. I go the Bronx and Central Park zoos about twice a month and am occasionally forced to buy food there for my three-year old. I’m always appalled by the nachos, hot dogs and icees, not to mention the branded packaging that is incredibly wasteful. At an event at the zoo recently, Jeff Corwin opened his talk by commenting on what the kids were eating and then pimping his new show about the environment and food on food network. I agreed with him but at the same time thought, “What choice do people have? This junk is everywhere at the zoo, there are no alternatives and the kid is begging them for something else to eat.” I would like to start a campaign to get the WCS to change the food offerings at all their zoos, but have no idea how to get started. Maybe an NYC-based environmental group would have an interest in such an initiative?

    • Alden Says:

      Hi Michelle,

      You inspired me to send an email to the zoo about it. I included a link to the post and your comment. It’s no movement, but it’s a start!


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