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Photo Stories | Observing Captivity

Having recently shot wedding at a zoo I instantly got to thinking that my next Photo Story would involve a photo I took a couple of years back at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

As a kid I grew up on frequent trips to the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park. I think when you’re young you don’t really think about how strange zoos can be. They are just a place to go to see animals you read about in books or see on TV. As an adult I recognize the importance of zoological preservation and research. I think without zoos a lot of the species on the earth would be no more. On the flip side zoos to me feel like animal prisons, only the prisoners are on exhibit. Animals pace in their enclosures (at least they aren’t cages anymore), and people insensitively bombard them the camera flashes, and more noise than they’d ever be subjected to in the wild. The problem is complex… natural resources are continuously being depleted and encroached open by humanity. As a result animals get closer and closer to people in proximity. The land gets polluted. Certain species are poached. And sometimes the reality is that an animal may lead a safer life in a zoo than in the wild. It’s hard for me to visit a zoo anymore and not see sadness in the eyes of some of the creatures who seem so out of place and on display.

What does it for me in this shot is the expression on the little girl’s face as she watches the lion pacing back and forth. The rest of the crowd was banging on the glass wall trying to get his attention, yet the little girl is calm and looks at the lion as if she understands that this is not where he belongs.

Nikon D3 | Quantaray 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6
f/5.6 | 1/500s | 1250 ISO | Manual

Note: Quantaray 70-300mm (or “Q-Ray” as I affectionately title it) is about the slowest, lamest lens I’ve ever owned, but it’s nearly 100% plastic construction makes it pretty lightweight. I wouldn’t actually recommend it, but it’s always extra special to me when I manage to get something I like using it.

– Josh


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