The young girl sitting in the basement of the Natural History Museum had the quiet face of the models for Coco Chanel’s Mademoiselle perfume. But she was dressed in a peculiarly unbecoming short-sleeved green shirt, and she was holding a black and white iguana on her lap.
Yet what drew the most attention was a series of nasty fresh scarlet scratches on her arm, from her wrist upwards. A child of perhaps three pointed to the scratches. The young girl smiled and said the kangaroo did it.
Ever since I saw an angry crazy cheetah walking round and round in circles in a cage in Darabad Natural History Museum in the north of Tehran, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that keeping wild animals in zoos and cages is wrong and reprehensible. We only do it because we can, and we can make money off of it. Any other arguments about science and studying them are weak add-ons, self-serving justifications provided after the fact of captivity has taken place. I watched Jack, the Angry and Lonely Kangaroo hop listlessly through wood shavings scattered on the floor of the basement, occasionally kicking out his angled back legs, and I thought nothing in the world can convince me that he is happier and better off here, in a segmented-off section of the basement of a dingy small museum, surrounded by a seemingly hysterical crowd of people who were insanely snapping photos of him. For them, he was a mild diversion and relief from the crushing boredom of the weekend. For him, thus was exile from his fellow-kangaroos and his homeland. This is cruel.