By David Grazian
Orangutans swing from Kevlar-lined hearth hoses. Giraffes dinner party on celebratory birthday brownies crowned with carrots rather than candles. Hi-tech dinosaur robots growl between metal bushes, whereas owls watch lively cartoons on outdated tv units. In American Zoo, sociologist David Grazian takes us on a safari in the course of the modern zoo, alive with its many contradictions and unusual 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 little toddlers, and the opposite human primates that make up the zoo's social international. He exhibits that during a massive shift clear of their unlucky pasts, American zoos at the present time 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 obstacles we frequently use to split tradition from nature, people from animals, and civilization from the wild. while, zoos deal with a desolate tract of competing priorities--animal care, schooling, medical study, and recreation--all whereas trying to function facilities for conservation within the wake of the present environmental and climate-change difficulty. the realm of the zoo displays how we undertaking our personal prejudices and wishes onto the animal nation, and make investments nature with that means and sentiment.
A revealing portrayal of comedian animals, extremely joyful kids, and feisty zookeepers, American Zoo is a amazing close-up exploration of a vintage cultural appeal.
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Extra resources for American Zoo: A Sociological Safari
Jaguars play with old sneakers Where the Wild Things Aren’t • 29 while woodchucks play inside old cartons of Woodchuck cider. Cheerios boxes stuffed with newspaper adorn an indoor enclosure featuring a green iguana, cotton-top tamarin, and red-footed tortoise. 37 Nature Making as Stagecraft Given the dilemmas and tensions inherent in creating naturalistic zoo environments, nature makers rely on specific strategies of stagecraft designed to overcome these challenges. One set of exhibit design strategies involves controlling the sight lines and visual experience of both animal and visitor alike through the manipulation of physical space.
At City Zoo, carnivore food bowls and trays always remained under aluminum foil, never to be shown to visitors—even when asked. At Metro Zoo, prey animals would sometimes be partially dismembered before being fed to exhibited animals on display. During the aforementioned episode in which keepers at Metro Zoo served a deer carcass to its gray wolves before visiting hours, a staff person explained that the deer’s head and limbs had been removed prior to feeding, lest zoo visitors “think of Bambi” should they arrive before the wolves finish devouring their meaty breakfast.
This can be seen in a variety of contemporary zoo exhibits that represent man-made settings where animals may dwell in real life (or not). The Philadelphia Zoo displays its Sumatran orangutans and western lowland gorillas in an emphatically non-naturalistic environment—a cleverly designed stage set intentionally created to look like a repurposed industrial site where apes climb on crane rails and multistory metal scaffolding. ) At KidZooU, the Philadelphia Zoo’s children’s pavil- 40 • Chapter 1 ion, a domestic rat exhibit simulates a scientific laboratory where zoo rodents perform the role of lab rats running along an obstacle course of ramps, rope ladders, running wheels, and plastic tanks full of pet litter.
American Zoo: A Sociological Safari by David Grazian