Exposure: 30 sec.
June 18, 2003, windy, Two Guns, AZ
How mysterious were the words, "Mountain Lions", painted in bold print on the side of a crumbling stone building that was miles from anywhere. In the background, across a small gorge, we could see several other buildings, also stone, also crumbling, obviously built by the same hands. One of them was like a great stone castle. This place stood alone and still in a flat desert basin, at the end of a freeway offramp called Two Guns.
I walked closer to explore rooms that were empty and open to the sky. I walked down a grand stone staircase that gave way to a view of the magnificent gorge, breaking up the muted desert land with its green ribbon of life. I gazed at the gorge for a long time, wondering at the mystery of this place, at both the natural and the human enterprise that has resided here. At last I turned back around and examined the building again.
Then I saw the cages. A whole row of them stood facing the wilds of the gorge. It took me some time to get over my initial reaction. I didn't feel repulsed, necessarily, or horrified. I just felt sick in my stomach. I didn't like the thought of animals kept locked up on the doorstep of their natural homes.
Steve had a good perspective on the whole thing. "Someone tried to trap the power of nature here", he said, "to keep it locked up and put it on display. But that endeavor can only meet with temporary success, and now, nature has taken back this place."
It was true, nature had taken it back. There was a large cottonwood tree growing up through one of the rooms, and all the animals that wandered through here were free to come and go as they pleased. It was nature that created the animals as they are, and nature too that gave man the tools of vision and creation. It was nature that gave a certain man the idea of building a zoo as a roadside attraction, and that made people curious enough to stop here, to catch a glimpse of the wild.