Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, we can tell you stories about the faces and sounds our children have made while looking at, and interacting with, the wildlife located there. In particular the Shark Lagoon exhibit, where small sharks and rays swim around in shallow pools and children (okay adults too) are permitted to touch these playful creatures (I swear when the rays swim by they flip their fins at you in a gesture of goodwill).
Given my fond memories of this place, I was truly saddened to read about the brutal attack on two sharks and a ray last Tuesday. Michelle, a 3-foot-long, nurse shark, was one of the first sharks introduced to the exhibit back in 2002. At only 5 years-old, her life span of 30 years was tragically cut short. Also killed were a cow-nosed ray and a 2-foot-long, striped bamboo shark that was found in a bird exhibit. Each of the animals appeared to have been poked to death with plastic pipes.
I don't know, maybe it's me. But at times like this, where Americans are sacrificing their lives on a daily basis in far-away places like Iraq and Afghanistan, you would think that those of us here, in the relative safety of the United States, would somehow come to cherish life more, in all of its forms. Having said that, and being fully aware that nothing can adequately explain the maiming or killing of defenseless animals, I'm left with a hollowness inside me that yearns to understand why people can perpetrate such despicable and heinous acts.