Page of

The Parallax Zoo

The Parallax Zoo

(p.370) Chapter Thirty The Parallax Zoo
The Ark and Beyond
Ben A. Minteer
University of Chicago Press

The relationship between zoos and the wild is complex and often contradictory. The controlled and curated character of their existence means that zoo animals are not fully “wild,” at least compared to their counterparts in nature. Emerging trends in zoo design emphasizing greater exhibit naturalism, however, have reduced (at least aesthetically) some of the distance between the zoo and the wild. This chapter reflects on the search for wildness and naturalism in zoological parks by examining the plan for “Zootopia,” an expansion of Denmark’s Givskud Zoo. Zootopia’s innovative “cage-free” design promises to minimize the separation between people and zoo animals, offering a heightened sense of environmental immersion and wildness in the contrived setting of a zoological park. Yet as zoos seek to become significantly more naturalistic and more park-like they will confront a number of thorny questions, including whether the attempt to get closer to wild conditions only underscores the biological and philosophical gulf between zoos and "real" nature. Past examples of failed attempts to meld the wild and the zoo, such as the largely forgotten animal menagerie at Yosemite National Park in the early twentieth century, remind us of the difficulty of this challenge.

Keywords:   wildness, Yosemite National Park, Zootopia, Givskud Zoo, naturalism, zoo design, immersion

Sign In

Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy and Legal Notice