Anne Berry is used to being behind glass – her camera lens, that is. For her project titled “Behind Glass,” both she and her subjects, primates at zoos, were looking at each other through glass.
“They’re looking at us like we’re looking at them,” Berry said.
Her title not only means the obvious, that the animals are behind enclosure windows, but also draws a metaphor to how humans separate themselves from nature. People like to observe the natural world but want to segregate wild animals in contained preservations or zoos.
“I want people to say, what are we doing to the habitats?” Berry said.
Although she shot the images on a digital camera, she converted them to black and white for a nostalgic effect and captured the dirt and deformities of the enclosure windows.
“I want people to feel some melancholy and empathy” when looking at the images, she said.
Berry has photographed animals out of captivity before, and she said surprisingly, these creatures often seemed more stressed than those in zoos.
She went to South Africa and photographed baboons for another project, and she said the baboons didn’t have enough space within the preservations. The troops would need to move to different areas to find mates in order to not have inbred children and would travel through Cape Town to reach the other wild areas.
Baboons and other animals would normally ignore people, but tourists feed them so they associate people with food. They will then enter people’s houses and grab food from their counters, or thinking people have food in their bags, attack people with back packs, Berry said.
She thinks people should not be surprised when the animals come into unlocked homes to grab food visible from the outside.
“You can’t just put them in a big preserve because they can’t move, so you have to be able to live with them,” she said.
She visited zoos all over the globe and said, with some exceptions, they are usually progressive and mimic what the animals need. They have private spaces to hide from gawking humans.
“Even if it looks like a small space, they’re less stressed,” she said.
Of course she would like to see the animals in the wild with the resources and space to thrive, but she would rather see them provided for in a zoo than stressed in small, fragmented preserves.
Zoos also try to raise awareness and send money to preserve the native environments of the animals in their care.
Berry hopes to partner with a conservation and publish the images to raise money for the organization.
- Lauren Russell, CNN