ISC Echoes A gorilla in the guest room : theme of inhumane treatment towards animals


A Gorilla in the Guest Room

Question :  How does the story ‘A Gorilla in the Guest Room’ reflect the theme of inhumane treatment meted out animals ? Give example from the story to support your answer.

Answer : ‘A Gorilla in the Guest Room’ written by Gerald Durrell, throws light on the inhumane treatment meted out to animals. 
 Zoos a mere show place of Animals :

             The story tells about zoos which do not work towards the conservation of wildlife but act as a mere show place of animals. He says about the zoos ” must cease to be a mere show place of animals and start to contribute something towards the conservation of wildlife.”

Zoos do not provide humane conditions for animals to exist. Most zoo enclosures are very small, quite different from the natural habitats of  animals. Birds’ wings are clipped do that they cannot fly, aquatic animals often live in very small tanks which restrict their movements and many animals who live in large herds or family groups are kept alone or at most in pairs. 

Focus on Popular Animals : 

Zoos must be the place which provide animals protection against hunting and exploitation. They should keep all those animals which are endangered and at the verge of extinction. But zoo officials usually favour popular and and exotic varieties of animals, who draw crowds and publicity, rather than threatened or endangered species. This is what Gerald Durrell also witnessed in the story and hence obtaining a baby Gorilla, even for such high price as twelve hundred pounds was his top priority.

● Life in captivity :

The natural habitat of all these wild animals are the forest or jungle, where they move and survive freely

    It is very cruel to keep these free animals into captivation. They are confined and made prisoners. Captive animals are deprived of everything that is natural and important to them, and as a result, they get bored, and feel lonely and many of them suffer from a condition called zoochosis.
          The animals feel tortured in captivity. The caged space snatched their freedom and thus as Gerald mentioned a baby chimpanzee when ” reincarnated will naturally be filled with rage and will scream at the top of its voice.” 

● N’Pongo in his Man -made Environment :

Even though Gerald and his team took utmost care of N’Pongo, but he was a wild animal, he was born to live in a jungle. He was shifted in a zoo which provided hom an artificial environment, there he had to entertained the visitors. He was the darling of the zoo and every afternoon he would be brought out on to the lawn in front of his admirers. He would roll in the grass with bored expressions, or with a wicked gleam in his eyes. 

      N’ Pongo’s battle with its stomach infection drove Durrell to despair, almost to breaking point. He then realised that gorillas are jungle animals and uprooting them from their habitats was a cruel and un-natural act.

Jungle environment was the best buffer against infection and untimely death” this is learned by Durrell by a bitter experience. N’Pongo got well but his encounter with death saddened Durrell. From this crises Durrell concluded, keeping wild animals in artificial, man -made environment was against the Nature, it is cruel and unjust to wild animals. 

 Nandy’s anti -human behaviour :

Humans tend to be cruel to animals and this is also seen when Nandy the female gorilla was brought to the zoo.

       Just opposite to N’Pongo, Nandy was anti social. She did not trust or respect humans. She looked at human beings with frightened eyes that was possibly due to the cruel treatment she had received earlier by some so called human.

    The author narrates it as –
“right across the top of her skull was a scar which must have measured six or seven inches in length. Obviously when she was caught, some over enthusiastic and intrepid human being had given her a blow with a machete which had split her scalp like a razor slash.”

     The author further says about Nandy –

“She had such a woebegone, frightened face that one longed to be able to pick her up and comfort her , but she had been too deeply hurt”, and thus she needed time to trust humans.

    It took almost six months, for Gerald to gain her confidence.

  • Gerald’s zoo vs other zoos –

      Many other zoos acquire the animals only for exhibition. They make no efforts to provide them with a mate, which in turn make them morose and melancholy as Gerald personally observed in many zoos. On the other hand Gerald made all possible efforts to establish a zoo as a place which is not a mere show place of animals but contribute towards the conservation of wild life. He believed it is necessary to replace the common animals with rare and threatened species. Therefore when she got the call from an animal dealer offering a baby gorilla for twelve hundred pounds, he could not say no.  Obtaining a gorilla was his top priority. Despite his wife’s annoyance and lack of money, Gerald managed to arrange twelve hundred pounds so 5hat the baby gorilla could enter his zoo. 

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