Remy Haber: Through the Looking Glass


Photography and Text by Remy Haber


As a child, the zoo meant a world apart from my own. It meant a daylong adventure punctuated by cotton candy smiles paused only when my shoelaces clumsily came untied.  I was so tiny, and the world felt so big, not least of all because of the two-ton elephant or the two-story giraffe.



When I visited the Philadelphia Zoo recently, it was my first time at such a place in over ten years. I was surely one of the oldest visitors, and, oddly, still one of the smallest (I stand at a whopping five feet tall).  But the zoo felt less imposing than it did ten years earlier.  As I dodged ecstatic toddlers left and right, it felt less grandiose, but more weighty.



Perhaps this has something to do with the wealth of wildlife activism to which I’ve been exposed as I’ve grown older. Animals are often mistreated within the gilded, illustrious zoo walls. But it’s more than that, perhaps my own nostalgia on the passing of time.







The zoo, as a place where emotions converge on one another, is best portrayed through portraits of the animals upon which we gaze. I sought to confront the viewer with both the perfections and imperfections of the subjects, perhaps at some points uncomfortably so.  The range of colors, perspectives, and shapes present in this collection are redolent of what the zoo has the power to evoke: joy, wistfulness, passion, and indignation.  Not in the standard zoo form, where animals are set back a ways from us, court jesters validated by the spectator’s gaze.  Rather, in such closeness that, perhaps only for a second, the animals are watching us.


Photography and Text by Remy Haber, Copyright 2016.


About The Author: Remy Haber is a senior majoring in History at the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2016. To read additional articles by Remy Haber, go here:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *