REDDING, CA—Long considered among the nation’s premier zoos, northern California’s Redding Wildlife Park has continued to earn praise from visitors and industry observers alike for its progressive commitment to housing all of its animals in their natural destroyed habitats, sources reported this week.
The cutting-edge zoological park, which houses some 3,000 animals from more than 500 species within its grimy and litter-strewn enclosures, reportedly spends tens of millions of dollars each year to maintain a vast variety of polluted and decimated habitats that closely replicate living conditions in the outside world.
“Our zoo is dedicated to providing every one of our animals with surroundings that mimic their natural homes as closely as possible, which is why we’ve built dozens of modern habitats that contain the precise types of discarded plastic and styrofoam packaging, acidified water sources, and industrial byproducts they typically encounter in the wild,” zoo director Michael LaForge said of the facility’s trailblazing enclosures, which occupy more than 100 acres of largely drought-ravaged and eroded land abutting a chemical processing plant. “In the past year alone, we’ve spent over $20 million to systematically contaminate dozens of exhibits for our animals, from our freshwater pond tainted with hydraulic fracturing runoff to our temperate woodlands that we reduce in size every month through systematic deforestation.”
“The rainforest enclosure inhabited by our jaguars and howler monkeys, for example, is one of the most faithfully reproduced habitats in our park,” LaForge said while gesturing to an area of desiccated trees and scorched brown underbrush. “We are 100 percent committed to ensuring that these animals live exactly as they would if they were being constantly harassed and displaced by commercial farmers and loggers in the Amazon Basin.”
Employees said that since the first fetid, pesticide-laden exhibit was constructed in 2003, trustees have invested large sums of money in researching and developing the most realistic habitats, implementing solutions ranging from pumping smog into the air of the Indian elephant pen to introducing devastating invasive species such as cane toads and Burmese pythons into the park’s Caribbean and Everglades habitats. Sources confirmed that the zoo’s state-of-the-art polar bear exhibit features a million-gallon water tank with a single gradually receding platform in the middle, while its adjacent sea lion habitat includes a massive patch of floating refuse that includes the latest medical waste and old tires.
In each of the exhibits, staff said, the foul condition of the water and vegetation is closely monitored by dedicated teams of researchers who ensure that the animals remain constantly stressed and malnourished.
“One thing we’ll do with our Asiatic cats is deny them sustenance for extended periods of time so they can experience what it’s like to have their natural food source depleted by habitat loss,” said zoo official Joe Firer, noting that the park currently has all five of its Bengal tigers compete for a small portion of meat that other zoos would normally allot for one of the animals. “When they’re finally too weak to stand, we’ll throw in a few pieces of beef for them to viciously fight over, just like their cousins in the few remaining natural areas in south Asia that haven’t been fully eradicated by urbanization.”
“When you see the sallow, hopeless look in their eyes as they spend another fruitless day hunting for food, you know you’ve done your job,” Firer added. “Ensuring each animal is as miserable as it would be in the wild is our ultimate goal.”
Visitors to the wildlife park said that the staff’s commitment to environmental realism is particularly impressive considering the enormous challenge of emulating decades’ worth of ecological destruction, with sources noting that employees are constantly working to ensure the zoo’s animals are burdened with accurate levels of fertilizer runoff, noise pollution, and occasional poaching.
After seeing the ailing and distressed animals with their own eyes, many visitors reported feeling inspired to support the zoo’s mission.
“When I go to Redding, I’m always motivated to help out by making a donation of a plastic shopping bag or some old batteries that the staff can dump into the animals’ food and drinking water,” patron Joanna Mills told reporters, saying that she’s considered volunteering certain weekends to pitch in with the zoo’s simulated oil spills. “And whenever I’m near an outdoor enclosure, I always toss an empty water bottle right at the rhinos or the families of orangutans.”
“It’s not ideal for them to be taken out of their natural environments, so the least we can do is make them feel as threatened and encroached-upon as possible,” she added. “Then it’ll feel like home.”