The Zoo and Mankind’s Influence on the Animal Kingdom

I have mixed emotions about zoos.  On one side I think it’s great that people have the ability to see strange and exotic animals without traveling all over the world, but I also think that the artificial biomes these animals call home are usually on the pathetic side.  What if your entire universe consisted of your bedroom, and one of the walls was transparent so that creatures outside of your universe can stand and stare at you going crazy?

The Schonbrunn Zoo in Vienna has taken another route in showcasing its animals.  Some of the artificial habitats include remnants of mankind’s effects on the environment, including oil derricks, train tracks, pollution, and a stylish red sedan parked partially submerged next to the hippos.  These displays are a deliberate attempt to raise people’s consciousness on how we, the citizens of this planet, are affecting the environment.  It definitely makes you think, and for that I applaud them.  Maybe this isn’t appropriate for every single display, because we as humans have an incredible power to ignore a message if it’s shoved down our throats everywhere we turn.

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One thought on “The Zoo and Mankind’s Influence on the Animal Kingdom

  1. Mile High Pixie

    Interesting. When I was in undergrad, I took a class on environment and behavior that was ultimately about zoo exhibit design. We discussed the changes to the way zoo exhibits are designed in the past thirty or so years, such as providing critter-appropriate and geographically-accurate landforms and plants, providing the proper amount of fight-or-flight distance for the creatures, and even providing them places to hide occasionally from the public. One of the things we discussed in class was how putting negative things in an exhibit made people not want to go to the exhibit, like showing the effects of deforestation in an exhibit about forest-dwelling birds. This was in the 1990s, though, before Al Gore and his drowning polar bears, but I still have to wonder about what if anything they’re going to accomplish by throwing humankind’s negative effects on wildlife in the faces of Americans.

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