I found myself in a bit of an ethical and emotional pickle whilst formulating this blog post and my latest video.
You see, as a vegan, I feel very aware that I may be judged negatively for the experience I’m about to share with you.
But I’ve just got to square my shoulders and bear that, if it does come to that.
See, in January, when my British boyfriend visited me here in Australia, we took a trip an hour and a half up the highway to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, so I could introduce him to some of Australia’s most famous native animals.
Here’s where the kicker comes in: I’m aware that many vegans are divided on the issue of animal captivity – obviously most vegans are against zoos, but the line becomes blurred when you most further along the ‘animal captivity’ line ethically.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is often being mistaken as a “zoo”, but it’s actually quite different.
The Sanctuary operates on a basis of wildlife education, conservation, rehabilitation and research.
From their website:
The sanctuary was established in 1947 by beekeeper and flower grower Alex Griffiths, who began feeding the region’s wild lorikeets to prevent them from ravaging his prized blooms. The feeding of the colourful lorikeets soon developed from a local curiosity to a popular tourist attraction.
In 1976, the sanctuary was donated to the National Trust of Queensland. The National Trust of Queensland is a like-minded organization dedicated to preserving the state’s natural and cultural heritage. The Trust continues to operate the sanctuary on a not-for-profit basis, with all revenue reinvested back into the park, in conservation-based research, caring for sick and injured wildlife and public education.
Within the Sanctuary is the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, which admits over 8,000 native animals each year.
Every dollar you spend at the Sanctuary goes towards funding the hospital – and you can even visit the hospital whilst you’re at the sanctuary and actually see the veterinary staff working on sick or injured animals. Pretty cool.
The animals within the sanctuary are, as far as I have been informed, animals that have been rehabilitated after injury or illness but are not able to return to the wild.
So here you are able to get up close and personal with native animals of Australia, without the intrusiveness or “performance” of a zoo or circus.
And I feel OK with that. If you disagree, that’s OK too, but I did a lot of talking with other vegans on the issue before posting this blog and found I definitely wasn’t alone in my sentiments about CWS.
In fact, the majority of vegans I came across while researching the issue support the idea of sanctuary, as I do.
So there you go. Controversy (hopefully) avoided.
One thing I must not neglect to point out though, is that you can pay to hold and have your photo taken with a koala at CWS.
Dan and I did not partake in that particular activity.
Yes, they are sleepy, chill animals, and extremely cuddly – and I believe the Sanctuary has a policy where the koala is switched out regularly so it doesn’t have to undergo hours of photoshoots per day – but the idea of paying to let an animal be passed around for show for hours still doesn’t sit right with me.
All in all, I approve of the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and the work they do, and I feel happy knowing that the money I spent there went towards helping injured and sick wildlife.
That thought really put a smile on my face.
And I had a really awesome day with my boyfriend, helping introduce him to the native animals of my country. So there’s that too.