A few weeks ago I took my son, Kai, to the London Wetland Centre (a wildlife centre in West London) to make up for not going to France. We’ve wanted to go here for a long time and checked out the website before going to see what was on offer; we were especially keen to see the otters. When we got to there we were hugely disappointed. The first birds we saw (barnacle and red-breasted geese) were huddled under a tree, unable to go very far due to the small area they were confined to. I didn’t realise that many of the birds there have their wings clipped( until one of the other visitors mentioned it) which made watching them very uncomfortable for me.
There is a selection of wild birds(not the above) that can be observed from the hides with and without binoculars. It was a pleasure to watch the wild birds, knowing that they can come and go at will, which is sort of the whole point of watching wildlife.
The most disappointing part of the visit was seeing the otters in their small enclosure surrounded by a pool of stagnant water. It was absolutely heartbreaking watching them running around as the crowds built up at feeding time, barking and yelping because they knew it was time for food( okay they could have been barking for another reason). The keeper informed us that the otters were raised in captivity and this was for their own protection, due to a decline in numbers. But I don’t feel this justifies keeping these magnificent creatures in captivity. Wouldn’t it be better to invest all our efforts to deal with the man-made causes of their decline including their loss of habitat( currently the main cause of a reduction in their numbers), poaching, their use in food and medicine, etc.
I moaned quite a bit during the day, so Kai says. I was still very upset about not being able to go to France and this could well have made things worse. But I was very unhappy with certain aspects of the centre and it was important that my feelings had a productive outlet. So I resolved to contact the London Wetland Centre and offer some feedback from our visit when I returned home. I emailed them during the week and look forward to their response, if it comes. It is important that Kai see’s that I have the courage to speak out and stand up for my beliefs, then hopefully he will learn to do the same. It’s easy to moan and complain about things we do not like, but it takes real courage to take action. When those who are experiencing injustice are not in a position to speak out for themselves, it becomes the duty of those who can to honour the call.
Picture 1 credit: Taymaz Valley