Except I don't actually love the zoo. I have guilt about it, in fact. I love to watch the animals (from far away) but I hate the idea of the cramped quarters. I understand the idea that a zoo environment is safe for them (keeping them from predators and diseases and starvation and all that) but could an animal enjoy enforced safety any more than a person could? How would a tiger know he's being protected inside his chain-linked enclosure if he was born there? Could he appreciate a hunk of meat tossed in six out of seven days if he's never had to hunt? Something inside me thinks that creature was made to run and hide and hunt and slink and defy natural death.
So a zoo is artificial, but does that make it bad? My writing is just as artificial. These are not real people in real situations. I create the reflection of real life, just like the elephant house creates the reflection of Africa in Salt Lake City. I put my characters on a page and have them do tricks, just like the gorillas do a show for carrots and cantaloupe. What's the difference?
Maybe there is no difference, and maybe that's why sometimes I feel guilt about writing, too. Is someone really paying for this?
But, on the other hand, my kids love the zoo. They love the animals. They love the stink, and the adventure, and the interaction. And I'm willing to pay for that.