After watching the beasts in their cages, diners at the zoo's restaurant can gnaw on the webbed toes of a hippopotamus, chew a kangaroo tail, nibble a deer's penis or slurp down a bowl of ant soup.Weird, indeed. But it's not just those wacky foreigners. Fish is standard fare in US aquarium restaurants. It's not quite so flagrant. Attention is not drawn to the match between exhibits and restaurant fare. But it's considered normal to first enjoy looking, then enjoy eating.
It's not entirely unnotable that US zoos have lots of mammals on the menu, if not the very same ones on display. We're just not supposed to see a conflict between marveling at okapis and zebras and then eating another ungulate, the cow. At our local sausage factory, you can enjoy the antics of piglets at the petting zoo on the premises, and then sample the sausages.
So you see, it's not just the Chinese.
I was pretty annoyed about this when I went to the new Academy of Sciences museum in San Francisco. They had a large global warming exhibit, including a sizeable section about meat and dairy consumption and its negative environmental effects. The exhibit urged people to consider drastically reducing their consumption of meat and dairy. That section was, literally, right next to the museum restaurant which only had one vegetarian (not vegan entree). I wouldn't even have complained if it was all sustainable seafood and maybe a single chicken dish, but there were several red meat options, lots of chicken, a little fish and one veg option. I mean, what a great opportunity to show people who don't think about these issues that there are delicious veg and vegan entrees that can be a real alternative for them. A real squandered opportunity - it made me feel like the whole exhibit was disingenuous if they weren't even going to make marginal steps to back up the exhortations with concrete action (and in SF no less).
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