This heartbreaking image shows delighted zoo visitors, with cameras in hand, jostling behind a glass panel as they point and gawk at the orangutan on the other side.
Many have smiles plastered on their faces, but the subject of their attention is clearly not sharing the sentiment. Instead, the Sumatran orangutan sits curled up on top of a rock, with its arms wrapped around its body in a solitary and protective pose.
It may all be part of the fun for the tourists visiting the Moscow Zoo, but their amusement comes at the expense of the great ape stuck inside.
Chris Draper, program manager for captive wild animals at the Born Free Foundation in the UK, told animal rights website The Dodo: “The picture presents a striking contrast between the zoo visitors and the orangutan: a moment’s interest and comedy for the visitors and a lifetime’s captivity for the orangutan.”
In the wild, Sumatran orangutans seek safety in trees and rarely venture onto the ground. But that’s not something that’s always possible in captivity, where they may have no refuge from the prying eyes of humans.
“Here we see a situation where endless streams of visitors may file past at eye level with this intelligent and sensitive ape,” Draper said.
The rights of orangutans held in captivity is an issue that has been thrust into the spotlight following a world-first legal decision last December, where an Argentine court ruled that an orangutan called Sandra was entitled to the same basic rights as humans.
It found that she was being subjected to unjust confinement at the Buenos Aires Zoo, where she has lived for two decades. Animal rights groups hope the legal battle that is still going on following the ruling will eventually see her set free.
The judge is expected to decide within the next few months whether Sandra will be better off in a zoo or a sanctuary.
Source: New York Post