I think most people begin their forays into wildlife photography by visiting zoos and safari parks, I know I did. Most of us have one within an hour or so of home and lets be honest, we can’t all afford, make the time or even physically get to the jungles of India to photograph tigers in the wild. These locations provide animals that are inaccessible to the majority of us, putting them at close distances, so why not use them as photographic subjects?
Throughout my travels I have eagerly sought out zoos to view local wildlife that I know I won’t get the chance of seeing in the short time of my visit. I have photographed hundreds of animals and I used to use them in my portfolios, however now I do not. My reasons are numerous, but the underlying factor is that they are not wild animals. You can never truly encounter wild behaviour in a zoo.
I made this decision after a trip to Asia when I began to feel uncomfortable seeing animals enclosed. I then discovered the work of a photographer who has become an inspiration to me, Britta Jaschinski and my decision became a whole lot easier to deal with.
So if I do display an image of a captive animal it will be one of a few certain situations:
- Part of a conservation project where the animal is undergoing rehabilitation or is beyond it due to human activities – loss of habitat/exploitation etc.
- Domesticated animal such as livestock in a landscape
- To demonstrate the unnecessary captivity of an animal in a so called “attraction”.
There are many local subjects to practice on: seagulls; ducks; pigeons are all ridiculously accessible in most parks and recreation areas, and can make cracking and challenging targets!
Taken at The Cuc Phuong Endangered Primate Rescue Center in Vietnam.