When animals are in the zoo, the zookeepers throw them birthday parties. They usually make “cakes” which are these pans of ice with veggies and fruits frozen inside. I think it’s a strange and sweet thing to do. I mean these animals were born in the zoo. The keepers have a clearer and more complete record of the animals birth and life than some human parents do. They’re also congratulating themselves for just keeping the animal alive through another year. Which is no small feat in itself I’m sure.
When the public sees these parties, especially children, it’s almost, I think, like a way to relate ourselves to the animal.
Humans, I think, when we see animals in the zoo, kind of view them as animatronics, like they’re not really alive, or that they’ve been programmed to entertain. When the animals are sleeping there’s always some doofus who bangs on the glass divider and yells “Hey you!! Wake up! hehe, Do something” So the birthday party is the acknowledgment of LIFE that yes indeed this being is ALIVE. It had a beginning, and it is mortal, so one day it will end. I think it’s safe to say that humans need to make associations using our own set of symbolism and ceremony in order to relate to the natural world, and give value to other creatures. Maybe the zoo keepers think about that when they set out the “cakes”, maybe they don’t, either way, it’s something for me to think about.