By David Grazian
Orangutans swing from Kevlar-lined fireplace hoses. Giraffes ceremonial dinner on celebratory birthday tarts crowned with carrots rather than candles. Hi-tech dinosaur robots growl between metal bushes, whereas owls watch lively cartoons on previous tv units. In American Zoo, sociologist David Grazian takes us on a safari throughout the modern zoo, alive with its many contradictions and weird wonders.
Trading in his tweed jacket for a zoo uniform and 2 muddy paintings boots, Grazian introduces us to zookeepers and animal rights activists, mom and dad and children, and the opposite human primates that make up the zoo's social international. He indicates that during an enormous shift clear of their unlucky pasts, American zoos this present day emphasize naturalistic indicates teeming with lush and immersive landscapes, breeding courses for endangered animals, and enrichment actions for his or her captive creatures. In doing so, zoos blur the imaginary limitations we frequently use to split tradition from nature, people from animals, and civilization from the wild. while, zoos deal with a wasteland of competing priorities--animal care, schooling, medical learn, and recreation--all whereas trying to function facilities for conservation within the wake of the present environmental and climate-change obstacle. the area of the zoo displays how we venture our personal prejudices and wishes onto the animal nation, and make investments nature with that means and sentiment.
A revealing portrayal of comedian animals, thrilled kids, and feisty zookeepers, American Zoo is a extraordinary close-up exploration of a vintage cultural appeal.
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Extra info for American Zoo: A Sociological Safari
Gray wolves and peregrine falcons reside in its Northlands exhibit alongside Alaskan hardwoods such as black spruce, lowbush blueberry, and paper birch. Handy nameplates help visitors identify the different botanical species growing in each enclosure by the shape of their leaves, needles, and flowers. Meanwhile, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson Where the Wild Things Aren’t • 25 takes this a step further by exhibiting only local plants, animals, minerals, and fossils indigenous to the Sonoran Desert region of the Southwest.
That sounds logical until you stop to think that “nature” in a zoo is nothing like nature in the real world. Real nature means predators or prey, disease, hunger, and danger. “Zoo nature” doesn’t have any of those things except disease, and a sick zoo animal gets immediate attention from a veterinarian. The result is that some zoos have spent a lot of money building fancy enclosures that appear natural to people, but are just as boring and painful for the animals as a barren concrete cage. I remember one tiger exhibit that looked really pretty with lots of rocks molded from concrete.
For example, zoos often struggle with the question of how much information about animal mating habits and their sexual practices ought to be explained to small children and preteens. Of course, when zoo animals copulate or simulate intercourse in public view, there is often little that can be done to stop them in flagrante delicto, regardless of who may be watching. Indeed, sometimes nature simply calls, just like when goats or sheep urinate on unlucky children or their parents during visits to petting barnyards in family-oriented zoo areas.