By David Grazian
Orangutans swing from Kevlar-lined fireplace hoses. Giraffes banquet on celebratory birthday tarts 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 Hi-tech dinosaur robots growl between metal bushes, whereas owls watch lively cartoons on outdated tv units.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 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 tots, and the opposite human primates that make up the zoo's social international. He exhibits that during a huge shift clear of their unlucky pasts, American zoos this day emphasize naturalistic shows 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 often use to split tradition from nature, people from animals, and civilization from the wild. even as, zoos deal with a barren region of competing priorities--animal care, schooling, clinical examine, and recreation--all whereas trying to function facilities for conservation within the wake of the present environmental and climate-change quandary. the realm of the zoo displays how we undertaking our personal prejudices and wishes onto the animal nation, and make investments nature with which means and sentiment.
A revealing portrayal of comedian animals, thrilled young children, and feisty zookeepers, American Zoo is a striking close-up exploration of a vintage cultural appeal.
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Additional resources for American Zoo: A Sociological Safari
In the grassland habitats of Metro Zoo, spectators feel the majesty of massive elk that peer down at them from the top of their steeply sloped enclosure. The San Diego Zoo’s Lost Forest immersive exhibit requires visitors to gaze up at Malayan tigers perched at terrific heights. ”41 As Catherine Brinkley, an international zoo consultant with doctoral degrees in veterinary medicine and city planning, explained to me during a walk through the Philadelphia Zoo, zoos ought to keep “the people on a lower level than the animals.
Exactly as Mother Nature intended. . Bug holes. Fungus, moss and decay. Twisted, knobby, contorted and distorted trunks and limbs. Faithful reproductions for hands- on discovery, but are they realistic enough to convince the animals at the zoo? Absolutely, but don’t tell any of them. They’ve been living comfortably among NatureMaker Steel Art trees for years. Look closely and you’ll see painstakingly-sculpted impressions of real bark with all its natural anomalies. Step back and sense the grandeur of the tree’s presence.
The viewer then sees the zoo’s animal enclosures and expertly planted cactus gardens as part of a continuum with the surrounding desert environment itself. 39 The ASDM accomplishes this feat of staged authenticity by attending to the production of nature at every level of crafted exhibition. First, the zoo displays only a limited number of animals (about 230), all native to the southwestern corner of the United States, if not the Sonoran Desert proper. This means not only that the exhibits resemble similar habitats, but also that there is little to no dissonance among exhibits—as there is at the Philadelphia Zoo, which displays Arctic polar bears within view of African giraffes and white rhinos.
American Zoo: A Sociological Safari by David Grazian