The Zoo – Writing Prompt – December 14th 2014 – I Went To The Zoo Once


I went to the zoo once

It was a Tuesday, in September

Not too cold not to hot

An ideal day.

I wanted to see an elephant,

A giraffe

A rhinoceros

Its hide the thickest you will see.

The man at the gate said welcome

I took my ticket

Made my way to the monkey cage.

An ape looked seriously bored

Looked at me probably

Thought, man you look bored.

An Oranatang looked up from chewing

A pile of bamboo:

Casually dismissed me

Chewed some more.

The elephants stood still

Rocking from side to side

Their stress evident

I felt sorry such noble creatures

Should be so confined.

Then to my delight the rhinos

Magnificent grass eaters

Their leathery skins, inches thick

Grazed oblivious to me.

I felt insignificant.


I was insignificant the day the men came

Herded us into a corner

Roped mother

Shot father

Corralled me

Penned me

The lights went out.

I dreamed I was on the prairie

Grass knee deep

Family all round

We butted each other

Happy to be who we were.

Jolted awake

Concrete floor

Shouts incomprehensible

Nothing familiar

Just me





I went to the zoo once

It was a Wednesday in September

I found animals



Deprived of context




I felt depressed

Their future misery.

The pointless pointing

Bereft of understanding.

I wondered the reason

Just as entertainment?



The marmoset monkeys

In the safest of environments

Still anticipated attack

Living on edge

Forever vigilant.


I went to the zoo once

It was a Thursday in September

I thought

I can never again return

Each beast lives in a place far from here

Hughes read the Jaguar so well*

Yet we incarcerate them

Boast of our achievements

Man the thinking mammal.

So who are we kidding?


Written for:


In writing this poem I couldn’t help but remember these lines from Ted Hughes’ ‘The Jaguar’

* At a cage where the crowd stands, stares, mesmerized,
As a child at a dream, at a jaguar hurrying enraged
Through prison darkness after the drills of his eyes

On a short fierce fuse. Not in boredom—
The eye satisfied to be blind in fire,
By the bang of blood in the brain deaf the ear—
He spins from the bars, but there’s no cage to him

More than to the visionary his cell:
His stride is wildernesses of freedom:
The world rolls under the long thrust of his heel.
Over the cage floor the horizons come.

This entry was posted in MLM, Poetry and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The Zoo – Writing Prompt – December 14th 2014 – I Went To The Zoo Once

  1. Being held against our will, animals or human alike, a sorry state of affairs and so unnecessary. Watching animals pace in cages, zoo, circus or on show for tourists, not the way an animal should be treated or live.

  2. I agree with Jenny very powerful writing. The part about the elephants struck me especially. For some reason humans don’t think of other animals as sentient but I believe they are capable of much greater feeling and understanding than we give them, I absolutely believe they have souls. Whenever one of my animal companions has died they come to me in a dreams to say goodbye. I remember how afraid my dog Eli was to pass on because he was such a devoted protector and had such a strong bond to my mom. They always come before the die. I was away at college, right after my dream my mom called to tell me Eli had died. Though before she broke the news I told her I already knew because he came by to tell me.

  3. JackieP says:

    I dislike zoos, no matter how ‘advanced’. It’s unnatural for our animals to live in one. Your words were powerful in this Michael.

  4. Strong and powerful words. It is sad that animals meant to roam free are confined. Not only in zoos but in natural parks.

  5. Lyn says:

    I haven’t been to the zoo for forty years. I hate seeing the elephants swaying back and forth like they do in captivity.

Please feel free to comment, I appreciate your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s