If someone asked me what the most important thing in my life is, I would say freedom. It will be terrible and breathless to be captured in a narrow and gloomy place. Every time I think about that situation, it reminds me of my visit to the zoo. It is one of my unforgettable memories in my life.

At the age of seven, like other children, I was mischievous and naughty. I liked going to the zoo to see many animals and tease them as well. I was interested in looking at furious crocodiles and screaming monkeys. I used to throw small rocks at a bear, get sticks to beat big snakes in their cages though my parents advised me not to do so.

In that summer, I had a chance to go to Ho Chi Minh City where my aunt lived. Of course, I insisted that they took me to HCM City Zoological and Botanical garden -Thao Cam Vien because I knew I would see many interesting animals which I had seen in wildlife programs on television before. Subsequently, my parents agreed to take me there. Wow! What a huge zoo! There lived a lot of wildlife such as tigers, leopards, giraffes, etc.  I remembered taking many photos at the Zoological and Botanical garden. One thing I particularly liked was my ride on an elephant, which I had not ever done before. The instructor helped me to climb on his back and go around in everyone’s admiring eyes. I found that I was as strong and brave as Tarzan. I got off and went on but always I kept on thinking about the poor elephant. He looked so old and weak with two sorrowful eyes. He just walked very slowly while I was making him go faster. Then, I also recognized that the other elephants were alike.

“Dad, why are the elephants so tired and they are not as brave as the ones we saw on TV?”, I asked my father.

“You don’t know the reason?”, said my father.

“No, I don’t. I see here they are fed a lot. People also take after them carefully. Why do they look very sad?” asked I innocently.

“Let me tell you, son! All animals in the world have different places to live in. Camels live in the deserts whereas tigers live in the jungles. These are all natural habitats in which wild animals can do anything freely. It’s better for the animal to feed whatever they want rather than to eat food people feed them. Furthermore, they prefer to run everywhere they like other than inhabit in a narrow place like a prison. If you were them, you would also want to live in natural habitats, son?” said my father.

Listening to my father and looking around other cages, I found that they looked so sorrowful and homeless, but they might not have any chance to return to their natural homes. Thus, I wondered how wildlife here would be. Suddenly, I felt a little bit wet at my eyes. I asked my father to take me back the place where the elephant I had ridden on was. He was lying there and waiting for the next passengers to ride on. I ran into him and gave him a hug.

“I’m so sorry guy, I didn’t know how much sorrow you had to suffer!” said I regrettably.

I didn’t know whether he could understand me or not, but I found his eyes became warmer with happiness of being sympathized. I bought a sugar cane for him. He rolled his trunk to get the sugar cane and enjoyed it. Both the elephant and I felt happy because we somewhat understood each other’s emotion.

I went home without stopping thinking of what I had experienced that day. I regretted for my teasing the animals in the zoo before. They all wanted to live comfortably in their real homes, not in the artificial ones like the zoos. From that day on, I have still liked seeing animals but on TV where I can see them living with their families and species in nature with freedom.

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