Nowhere to Go – by Daemienne Sheehan (Footprint writer and Travel writer)
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As a travel writer, I’ve been on fantastic adventures – swimming in undersea caves, climbing Mount Fuji at dawn, meeting sadhus at the world’s largest communal gathering. But I can’t say that the animals I’ve seen along the way have had the same freedom as me.
I will never forget a baby leopard I once saw down a jumble of streets in Toyko that was filled with bars and restaurants. It was the sort of metropolitan, sophisticated zone that 20 and 30-somethings liked to frequent on the prowl for something new and outlandish.
As a lure, in the front window of the establishment, some restaurant owners had caged a leopard in a small glass case. The case was only big enough to turn around in and the creature did this repeatedly with a deranged, twist, banging its head on the glass every time it turned. I don’t think that I have ever witnessed such a distraught animal. It had clearly lost its mind, trying to escape.
Did people care? Not a bit of it. As I stood there eavesdropping on the clients, all I could hear was “Isn’t he cute? Let’s get a picture. I’ll stand next to the cage.”
Inside the restaurant, customers could fish for rare species that were cooked and prepared for eating. It was a profoundly depressing scene, which, I suspected, must have appealed to a spoiled clientele with a casual disregard for the pain of creatures other than themselves. So why were there so many customers and from all over the world?
Next time, have a good look at what’s on offer and ask yourself, is it really for you?