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Replacing cages with streaming feeds of animals -- an air zoo.

Zoos arose when access to animals either did not happen at all, or required grueling travel. Theoretically, zoos brought the exotic creatures of the world home in fascination (less charitably, in domination). Mostly, they were sad places for animals and people alike. Cramped, concrete jungles, too often in urban environments.

Perhaps, zoos improved on taxidermy. The denizens of “natural history” museums teaching children, teaching us, that Big Life is glass eyed and moth eaten – as far from the true ethos of wildlife as it could be. If zoos improved on the shotgun schools of zoology, however, it was marginal. Nothing is itself in a cage. As the Toronto City council to its credit recently concluded before sending Thika, Toka and Iringa to a California sanctuary, elephants do not belong in Toronto.

Today we have every possible means of observing animals in their natural element or large open sanctuaries. The NPS's live webcam of brown bears salmon fishing at Katmai is a perfect and excellent example! As science museums have evolved to present what is new in new ways, so we should encourage zoos to do the same, by moving animals to legitimate open space sanctuaries and bringing the images at home.

Imagine streaming feeds of formerly caged animals in sanctuaries. Imagine an “air zoo" that would truly allow our children, would allow us, to appreciate what it is to be a tiger, a lion or an elephant. And would do it in ways zoos do not and simply cannot achieve – close up, resting and foraging, interacting with their companions, being themselves. It also would conform to our evolving sense of proper treatment and care of animals, as the Toronto City Council has proved with its pioneering decision. Finally, it would keep zoos out of the exotic animal trade, an increasingly problematic relationship that troubles more and more of us past distraction.

Zoos can evolve better and faster, and should.

  • Oct 28 2013: Unfortunately zoos are often the last and only barrier to extinction of some species. I remember seeing on the internet Benjamin the last maursupial wolf who is long dead. Several in the zoos if taken good care of by the keepers could have allowed preservation. Very old Tasmanians told of pet wolfs. Would this make a bad pet? More than that while the world has many sheep today. There are no Tasmanian Tigers.
    • Da Way

      • +1
      Oct 28 2013: how about adapting Elise's idea and have only 'sanctuary zoos' for saving near extinct animals. All others can be watched online.
      • Oct 29 2013: That would be a good idea if zoos were really that bad. I like zoos as long as the animals chosen can be humanely zooed.
        • Oct 29 2013: George, I will look hard, but I suspect that most zoos are urban or close, with space limitations that translate to confinement of animals who deserve better. Is there a good zoo? Perhaps, the San Diego Wild Animal Park a least deserves praise for its open space, integrated herbivores and suitable climate for some of the animals there. But, if 1 in a 100 is ok, shouldn't we break the mold?
      • Oct 29 2013: Awesome thought, particularly if the "sanctuary" part was real!
      • Nov 5 2013: Da Way, I looked back and realized that I hadn't properly responded. Thank you, again, as your thought seems just right to me. I'm even comfortable with more sanctuary zoos -- if we can get our Big Life to have reasonably large spaces, guided by a sanctuary mentality, e.g., no bull hooks or electric shocks, I'm there.

        Here's my short list of bad dynamics:

        (1) The zoo enclosure is a barred a cage of the sort circuses routinely use, a concrete hole in the ground, or glass cage in a casino.

        (2) A social animal is alone.

        (3) Any animal is chained.

        (4) Any animal is performing, hauled out for people to handle, or paraded around as an infant, whether its mom bellows in the next cage of not.

        There are others, but altering the above would be a major leap forward.

    • Oct 29 2013: George, first, thank you for weighing in. I finally decided to post what I have been thinking about because I value this community's keen insight, yours included. That said, I wish that you were correct, and that zoos were designed as or functioned as genuine barriers to extinction. In fact, while the examples are too few to provide meaningful statistical analysis, I think the anecdotal history is that zoos have contributed to extinction in two ways: (1) poor husbandry and sharing; and (2) distortion of animal needs. Regarding #1, take your thylacine. Apex predator -- not so may of them by the 1930s, except in Tasmania. Yet, several (many?) were taken to zoos, and the last died there -- with no apparent real thought or effort to stopping its precipitous decline. Everybody was happy to have "gotten theirs." The same MO of "getting one" without regard to their needs or the future occurs with elephants today, where zoos persist in maintaining a single elephant for decades -- a terrible, lonely life for this herd herbivore. Compare the sanctuaries, whether PAWS or Tennessee, where space, herd life, comparatively reasonable temperatures and companionship are provided. Regarding #2, even if it were true that zoos are strongholds against extinction, we must ask: At what cost to what we're "saving?" If zoos are to have a mission of being the last stronghold against extinction, let's design them as animal-centric places designed to foster breeding and re-release into the wild. Let's give them what they deserve, as we try to save them, and lets give ourselves the ability to watch them -- by streaming feed -- on something that amounts to their actual habitat or a reasonable facsimile of that habitat.
      Let's decide, as a culture, what zoos are for and let's help them to get there. As a person committed to innovation (technology) and animals, my view is that zoos are a 18th century technology and have failed to deliver in any credible manner. Cheers.
      • Oct 30 2013: I am not sure the thylacines would have been treated now likeBenjamin was in 1930. Okay i like the Fort Worth zoo. The alligators and some birds seem as happy as anyplace. I still believe mold your zoos and chose your animals. Probablly a Brazilian river dolphin and certain others don't belong in zoos. Nothing about the treatment of certain great apes by men anyplace seem right.
        • Nov 1 2013: George, thank you. I agree about great apes, and I also tend to agree about alligators and birds, though I often think that is my failing -- that I have presumed too little of them. I have not been to Fort Worth's zoo, and when I survey zoos in my mind, I can muster some support for the San Diego WIld Animal Park, with its fairly large spaces for herbivores -- giraffe, rhino and elephants, particularly. So, in the end, I think we could easily meet in the middle: Lucy, a elephant alone and confined for decades in Edmonton, should go to a sanctuary where she has the benefit of companionship, space and a temperature climate. Edmonton should expect that they have a large streaming feed of her day-and-night at the zoo and also at home. In the end, I'm expecting that most of us will find that dynamic preferable in every single way. Cheers, and again thank you.
  • Nov 18 2013: Thank You, Elise, for starting this conversation! My first trip to a zoo as a child thoroughly depressed/distressed me. The thought of those small confines/jails still gives my stomach a churn.

    I love your idea of virtual zoo, it is an idea that has been cracklin in my mind for awhile now as well!!! I've been watching the Katmai bear cams for two years, it is simply amazing what I have learned about the bears, salmon, the AK peninsula ecosystem, the threats to same, even recognizing individual bears! Now add cams on bird nests, African watering holes, on and on. Now add live chats with Rangers and scientists w/q &a .. No tv for me--as someone else posted, real life out in the wild is WAY more interesting, and does, indeed, promote the desire to preserve what you are seeing. (but I never include cams at zoos or aquariums... just that same old depressive feeling)

    I just viewed the Ted talk (Lian Pin Koh) on using drones to help wild areas/species in many ways (anti-poaching/mapping/enviro conditions .. would make wonderful live streaming for guided "live treck" into vast, remote places. My live cam/live chat viewing/learning experience has been fantastic .. with Katmai Rangers Roy Wood/Mike Fitz giving chats, from Polar Bear International producing live video chats from the Tundra with scientists showcasing polar bears and sea ice formation, bird experts doing same. And btw, ALL of these events are huge hits in classrooms--kids really don't require as much tech as you think to get excited--the best toy in the world is still considered to be a cardboard box and/or a stick, and OMG, that glorious pile of dirt!

    Imagery has grand power. Couple that with factual information on what you are seeing, as well as the perceived threats to such, what each of can do, etc... very powerful, I think!

    Nat'l Parks/Preserves are a wonderful safe way to interact directly and fill all your senses... hire a guide to really get far out, get the most out of it.
    • Nov 19 2013: Mary, thanks so much -- I truly love your suggestion on the use of drones, and think it is imminently doable. I will watch Lian Pin Koh, as also reach out the folks to have aggregated satellite time, as that too could be used to protect and watch, particularly for large-scale migrations. My fondest hope is that Mr. Attenborough or a comparable person with a demonstrated love for animals will help us communicate the joy and wonder they represent, and the importance of safeguarding them.

      I also agree that streaming feeds must be from the wild or genuine sanctuaries where the animal's behavior is reflecting of the wild or accounts for the limitations they may have experienced, e.g., raptors who've lost wings and still have space to move around, but can manage hopping, not flying.

      I didn't grow up with TV, and don't watch. But, I do find myself gripped by webcams, and you are evidence (as are the many folks who are dedicated August and September Katmai watchers) that we are not alone. So, with Anthony's help, I think we have a plan and a future that can change a long cultural tradition of tolerating and even fostering abuse in the name of education and entertainment.
  • Nov 18 2013: I think the only justification for a zoo these days is that the better ones do try to ensure the survival of endangered species, probably the word zoo should be dropped and substituted for species survival centers. While we are at it we could drop the name animal and refer to them as other beings.
    • Nov 18 2013: Agreed, Anthony, on all counts, particularly the use of the word "beings." It is not only correct, but right.
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    Nov 14 2013: Elise, I agree with you.
    Not only do I agree that it is unnecessary to cage animals in order to show them to people, but it doesn't provide the right image of the animal anyway because being caged, it never will show the authentic behavior it would have in freedom.
    Today, access to information is so easy that it is actually easier to find information about some exotic critter on the internet than in a zoo.
    • Nov 16 2013: Thanks so much for speaking up, Harold -- you've got my point exactly: If we want to experience animals, we have to find a better way than cages. They deserve it, and so do we.
  • Nov 6 2013: Maybe we need to do away with the term "zoo" and create a new form, like "Interspecies Park." For animals that have proven to be well-socialized to humans, the real deal could be there for all, kids & grownups, to enjoy. If space permits, wild creatures could range (thinking of San Diego's WildAnimal Park.) Interactive exhibits & lots of great green space to walk about. Living in San Francisco, I spent many hours at the SF Zoo when my kid was a toddler, and the joy was the walk through the African Safari; the sadness the big cat enclosures, even before the tragic events that unfurled there. I'm also conflicted about the state of the rescued big birds on display. These raptors were injured and would not survive in the wild--but is being tethered to a stand on display any better end? Let it be noted that kids love playing in the park at the zoo--climbing on the camel statue, etc. The park aspect is huge--kids love zoos because they get to run around, see animals, ride the train, hang out with their loved ones, etc. It's an asset to any city, especially one with minimal green space. I love the diversity of the visitors that use the SF zoo. Inappropriately housed animals are not required.

    I believe the SF zoo, and others, are open to change, but they are strapped for funds. How can we support the zoos, the animals in them, and get them to move into a more humane direction?
    • Nov 6 2013: I appreciate and respect your views, Margaret, and they've got me thinking. I wonder if we took away the kids' play sets and game areas, whether our children might not take a breath, look around, and -- as my child did -- pronounce the panther "sad," as she paced her enclosure to distraction. I wonder if we removed the Disney-model distraction and stopped treating among the most remarkable life on earth as nothing more than moving wallpaper behind the snow cone dispenser, most of our children would intuit and point out that most zoos are weird or sad. You've pinpointed it with the birds of prey! These animals have been injured, and must be confined, but they deserve better than a tether -- just as you say. And I think they can have it. Around the world, in sanctuaries, thoughtful people with little money make a positive difference for animals. They don't design, as you rightly point out, a "safari" for folks walking through without regard to the beings locked in there ... so, I'm not inclined to give them money, although I am inclined to take any necessary steps to help them think more creatively about a new paradigm. And, of course, I'm inclined to replace as quickly as possible the head of the AZA with someone who actually cares about animals, not entertainment. The absence of leadership resonates. Cheers, and thanks so much.
  • Nov 5 2013: I like the actual presence of animals. If I am going to take the effort to go to a zoo, I want there to be real animals. I can look up videos of animals whenever I like from home. It's just not the same.
    • Nov 6 2013: Ok, I get that you want proximity. But, I assume that you don't like to be in the presence of animals that are being mistreated or unreasonably confined to deliver on your proximity, so that your reference to heritage breeds means that you're willing to give up proximity where the cost is too high for the animal?

      This point about the cost to the animal is non-trivial -- whether a confined animal is itself is the essential question. Here, because of her experience raising hundreds or orphaned African elephants, I must come back to Dame Sheldrick: What you are seeing in a zoo is not an elephant, what you are seeing is a tragedy. The image, https://www.facebook.com/ElephantActivism/posts/508781739210935, communicates everything that is immediately recognizable to any sentient being: Despair. Note, the image is not a "bar cage," but it is not enough for her either.

      Now, trade that image for sanctuaries, whether PAWS, http://www.pawsweb.org/, or Tennessee, or any other credible, committed sanctuary, where you know the animals are contented, healthy, well cared for and maintain some facsimile of ELEPHANT.

      And, I must ask again, what do you choose: You demand for preference or their solace? Seen in that light, video is not second best, it is OPTIMAL, because it is ELEPHANT.

      Cheers, and thanks again.
      • Nov 6 2013: When the cost is too high to the animal, I can do without seeing that animal. However, I would rather have no exhibit at all than a video. Instead, I'd make a special trip to a proper sanctuary, once in a great while. Video is too inadequate.
  • Nov 4 2013: Remote digital sensors aren't quite the same as physical proximity, even with the best efforts of current technology.

    Honestly, zoo animals don't have to be miserable. Most of them enjoy a much easier life than their wild counterparts--regular meals they don't have to work for, veterinary care, nothing trying to eat them...

    Traditional zoos also do a great deal to protect the environment in the indirect sense that they help make people (especially the young) care more for animals and nature in general. It makes for much better PR than having the animals brutally kill each other in front of a camera, which is pretty much what they do in their natural state (minus the camera).
    • Nov 5 2013: Nadav, I appreciate your thoughts. You make three points, each of which I will address each.

      First, you argue that zoo animals don't have to be miserable. I don't disagree that they need not be, but only that too often they are. Take the example of Lucy, an elephant alone and confined in Edmonton for decades. She is a herd animal who requires companionship and movement and outdoor access for her health and wellbeing. She has none of it. Thus, her existence is no "easier" than yours would be, if we put you in an 8x8 room alone, but fed and managed your health care for three decades. That, in fact, would be called prison, and solitary confinement, and you would fail emotionally and physically. For these reasons, your argument resonates poorly, and my suggestion of a video instead of Lucy's intolerable conditions -- which are all too common -- remains my choice.

      Second, you argue that children learn to "care more for animals and nature in general." I would like to see the research, but most children do not learn the right thing from the wrong example. Seeing animals who are wretched perpetuates the notion that it is acceptable to keep them in a wretched condition, in the same way that seeing slavery taught most children in the south in 1820 that that horrible institution was acceptable, when it clearly is not.

      Third, you argue that the young should not see animals "brutally" kill. Perhaps, extreme animal TV has altered your sense of animals. Herbivores are just that, and rarely do anything that a child could not see, and almost never "kill each other." Big cats have far richer lives than you give them credit for, and it is a life children typically like to see.

      Finally, you suggest remote digital sensors aren't the same as physical proximity. Again, I agree. But physical proximity at the animal's expense is inhumane. And, compared to inhumane treatment, most of us will choose video.

      May I ask your age?
      • Nov 5 2013: My age is 21, if you must know. I'm not entirely sure why its relevant, but there you go.

        I'll address the points by number:
        1. This is more of a problem of specifics than fundamentals. The answer to miserable zoo animals is minimal sufficient conditions they should be kept under by law, not eradicating the process completely.

        2. Without zoos, they'd simply have much less exposure to animals. Lack of exposure leads to apathy, and apathy leads to a lowering it down the priority ladder. You could say other exposures may be more productive, I suppose, but that's a complicated question to answer.

        3. Actually, I have no trouble with children seeing animal violence--I never was one for overly sheltering them. I'm just saying zoos make for better PR is all. Also remember that what you see in national geographic is heavily edited for a reason; the violence is usually very toned down. Nature is much more brutal than we often like to think.

        4. Pretty much already answered for in 1.
        • Nov 5 2013: Thanks. My interest in your age relates to what I have observed about circuses. Setting aside questions of education, generations older than I am -- 48 -- seem to consider them a legitimate and enticing form of entertainment, whereas younger generations are far more circumspect about circuses, in part because of the perception that performing animals is wrong. We don't have street organ players and monkeys anymore either ...

          1. Conceptually, I don't necessarily disagree. But, practically, it hasn't occurred, and won't. Dame Sheldrick, who has raised more poaching-orphaned elephants than all US zoos combined, shows and says it best: https://scontent-a-iad.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/1175075_510118445733920_213924860_n.jpg?dl=1 So, this may be where I'm practical.

          2. As importantly, I think we agree that seeing an animal confined its not "exposure" in a positive sense. You're willing to retain the less positive dynamic. I'm not, but instead pressing for change -- hence, this conversation. I'll allow that this may be where you're more practical, but I'm darn certain that children who get to wake up seeing tigers wake up, check in on tigers as they eat while they're eating, and watch tigers play as they do, will feel an affinity that transends the purported limitations of video and species differences.

          Thanks, again, for taking the time.
  • Nov 1 2013: Which animals do you want to let out first? The gazelle so it can be torn apart by a lion and then scavenged by hyenas and vultures? Or the lion, who can get a minor injury in a fight and die of an infection or get a slight flu and die of dehydration? Nature is not a forest grove populated by elves and fairies where anthropomorphic rabbits and wolves work together undermining the plans of villainous corporate loggers.

    Nature is filled with diseases and danger and even murder and mayhem. A sprained ankle to a human or animal in civilization is a minor injury and inconvenience. In nature it is a death sentence to be carried out by starvation or being torn apart by a predator. The same killer whale that entertains at Sea World in wild would in nature be drowning baby whales and ripping flesh of them while they are still alive. Guess what, they are called killer whales for a reason. Dolphins rape, weasels kill for shits and giggles, squirrels cannibalize other squirrels and seagulls are gay. People are animals, and the things we do, animals do.

    And that goes both way. Humans live in houses that are tiny compared to their “natural habitat” and eat all sorts of “unnatural foods”, for instance most of us don’t eat tube grubs or raw chimpanzee meat and instead eat bizarre things like rice and corn and wheat. We also starve to death less, live longer and actually use less land per capita than our “natural” ancestors. Guess what is also true for animals in the zoo?

    Zoos can be cruel, so can human cities. Zoos can be great, so can human cities. But please spare me a vision of an idealized natural world. It is not inherently better to live in nature than it is to live in a zoo (or a city for humans).
    • Nov 1 2013: Well, I'm not too surprised that someone who calls himself "The Right Honorable Sasquatch" should set up a false argument, then pretend to knock it down, and call it a victory. I have not suggested free release, nor do I believe that is possible. What I do believe, as you apparently concede, is that zoos can be cruel. When the balance tips, and most zoos are cruel to most animals, particularly Big Life (eg, lions, tigers, rhinos and hippos) confined in small cages and herd animals isolated (eg, elephants). then moving them to better sanctuaries where space is not a premium (out of cities and to PAWS or Tennessee in the case of elephants) is what's right for them and, with appropriate video equipment, what is right for us as well.

      So, kindly lose the silly handle, disclose your identity and, like a genuine thinking person, engage in the real debate in a forthright manner. Otherwise, you do TED and me a disservice.
  • Nov 24 2013: Have you ever been split in your own opinions? Please know as i express the following thoughts, part of me is opposed to the thought... But i am curious to the response.
    I dislike zoos. Even the spacious ones. The animals just aren't themselves there. I think they should all be banned. What about the work they do to keep some animals from extinction you may ask? Well, perhaps we just need to let them go! They are on the verge of extinction for a reason... HUMANS. That reason is not going away, far from it. Is the loss of tigers for example what we need to REALLY wake up to ourselves? Are we just going to keep raping this planet whilst knowing someone out there is keeping a handful of each species alive? So simplify, would letting a few iconic creatures go extinct be a lesser evil?
    • Nov 24 2013: Darren, I have real thoughts here. In June 1947 (Fortune), Bernard De Voto said: “It is imperative to maintain portions of the wilderness untouched so that a tree will rot where it falls, a waterfall will pour its curve without generating electricity, a trumpeter swan may float on uncontaminated water - and moderns may at least see what their ancestors knew in their nerves and blood.” Portions? Untouched? Ancestors?

      Even today, conservation seems to be about turning back the clock – setting aside designated wilderness areas, and leaving the animals to fend for themselves there. Better looking zoos. Preserving a few pristine areas devalues the rest of the planet – that is, where most of us and most wildlife actually live. And lets us off the hook. By relegating big life to a few out-of-the-way spots, rather than committing to better manage our relationships with animals in the rest of the whole messy world, we don’t figure out how to accommodate wildlife in our daily lives, e.g., we drive over them, because they get in the way.

      We must better accommodate wildlife – in every sense of the word. To stop driving over them, to stop driving them from our backyards, to stop objecting when they share our gardens or trash, because we’re overfed, and much of what we don’t eat is pretty good bear, coyote, etc., food. To ignore the old rules on not feeding or touching the animals. So, hands together for everyone who ignores the Audubon’s prohibition on bird feeders, leaves open a trash can and shares a garage with a swallow or bat. You’re this generation’s De Voto.

      The next step is to make sure that we radio tag and drop food for polar bears, track tagged lions and tiger by satellite, aand with drones, to make sure that they aren’t killed by poachers, and give everybody who wants one a good recipe for fox slop. It may be the only way we don’t end up surveying Philip K. Dick’s electric sheep on the back lawn.
      • Nov 24 2013: Humans will never be able to live with predators in our backyards. The moment someone's child gets hurt, it's game over for wildlife. There is only one solution i can see... Its simple, its not over thought & it can be done. We need to stop populating this planet. That is was what my comment preluded too. We cannot share the same space. We either decide to be happy with six billion humans and let the rest of the planet be... Or we just keep populating until there's nothing left. Simple.
        • Nov 24 2013: Nonsense. Many of us live with predators in our back yards, and most of our children never get hurt. You sound like a white flight guy in 1962, spreading and championing fear. Try a white hood too.
  • Nov 22 2013: Back to the name thing ..

    choosing a TLD is changing currently ..search engines are using different methods to carry out their processes. It is no longer so important to have .com or net..

    some popular creative choices have emerged..

    such as .tv another one is .me

    and couldn't resist

    unzoo.me as a suggestion

    I know you are not keen on tv but a few people still use it ..

    so unzoo.tv is also possible .tv is the nation of tuvalu as I am sure you know and it helps their economy.

    .me is Montenegro they are of course a bit more expensive than other domains.

    although you would probably want .org also..and .info and it is a simple matter to redirect to them either way or all redirecting to one or 2 places..

    depending on budget many buy up as many different variations as possible for brand protection ..and could be useful if planning to have a variety of different media leading towards the webcams.
    • Nov 24 2013: So sorry for the delayed response, a very busy end of the week at work and home. So, first, I think UNZoo.me has to be right, although I think we keep UNZoo.tv as a back-up plan. I would like .org and .info as well, but I believe that may be more difficult -- I'm running that down now. I'll ask my marvelous team at work to take this on, and report back directly. As Mary is right, and we lose the TED forum on Monday, I'll come up with a different forum plan. My email is elisengbzoli@gmail.com.
      • Nov 24 2013: LOVE!!!-- UNZoo.me --that is just perfect!!! And all the others, but this one is just too cool, and could not be more direct to the point.

        Elise/others, please put mine in your address book, or gmail/yahoo/etc will spam me out, because it is domain based, i guess.... mew@marywilber.com
        • Nov 24 2013: Awesome, thank you so much! Of course, KUDOS go to Anthony for his help here.
  • Nov 20 2013: The more I think about it the more I think the bots would be very suitable, the site can be designed to be only usable via the pathways leading to webcams ..avoiding other types of less meaningful interaction.

    If not in 3D how else do people envisage this project? ..a website.?.standard or social network style ?..or an app ?

    or perhaps using a combination of media..under one logo ..so that the 3D would be just one avenue..to the same selected wilderness areas .
    • Nov 20 2013: I like the mix of possibilities, but with the main drive always leading to LIVE...

      Again, not a techie, so the format choices are mysterious to me, but it seems a website with some interactive (but personally prefer to do without the open, unmoderated chat thing) capabilities for live learning sessions, q & a type stuff... lots of available and embedded information... maybe even some moderated discussions such as this style on aspects of what is being seen... live sessions developed specifically for various age ranges in their classrooms...

      also, the phone app thing... how to accommodate, live streaming is a lot of bandwidth... also trending, most new internet users coming online are on phones and pads rather than computers...

      Lots of ways to go, for sure ;-) Elise, you have a full plate of possibilities!!! In my experience, defining the Mission Statement can make so much of this clear, and is one of the most interesting and challenging processes I have ever been a part of!
    • Nov 21 2013: My thought is an integrated portal, where we develop links to all of the good stuff out there, donate webcams to advance our link diversity/opportunities, and engage all credible organizations to do the same. Organization is key, and we will daily post the best few minutes of footage, really drawing folks to us. People can provide commentary at certain times, but 24 hour real time is too much to ask for human beings; bots can provide some reasonably valuable insights on a 24-hour basis.
      • Nov 22 2013: ok, now i get it clearer! I think i lost track amongst all the ideas, lol!
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    Nov 20 2013: Hi Elise,
    I found this site with lots of live streams. Most are from zoos, but nevertheless I think it gives an idea what can be done.
    I also was surprised to find lots of animal live cams on the internet.
    Maybe you can create something like a central platform for all these solitary streams. I could imagine that this could be interesting for the person who provides the stream because he can expect a larger audience and for you because you can use a stream that already exists.
    What I see however, is often a poor image quality. For your purpose I think it should be high quality.
    Another issue that comes to mind is that in a zoo, the animal is always present and mostly visible. But in nature, that's not necessarily the case, so a particular live stream might just look like a still photo if nothing is moving around.
    People in general look for instant gratification and don't want to wait perhaps hours until something pops up in the stream.
    So I think, whatever you are going to do, videos and taped live comes should also be part of the overall experience.
    • Nov 20 2013: So, this is incredibly important:

      (1) Image quality must be A+. I've liked the image quality of the National Park Service feeds, particularly as Mary has mentioned of the Katmai bears (in late summer and early autumn, pre-hibernation). There's an imbedded cost there, as there are also obligations to get authorizations for placing webcams, that must be addressed. My working theory is a grant for webcams at our NPs and donated to preserves/sanctuaries worldwide.

      (2) Purists may want the hours waiting, but I think we'll also have to provide condensed versions of live feeds, i.e., videos, so that folks who want a bit more consistent access get it. The NPS folks also do this very well, but it will mean that we need editing techs to upload condensed versions daily.

      (3) Animal life is seasonal. Moms and bears den up. So, there will be a seasonality to what we do. I like that because it's communicates reality. But, we must not oversell.

      (4) Under no circumstances do we do the zoo videos/webcams, e.g., pandacam at the national zoo. No tight confines, fake space or attributes.

      • Nov 20 2013: lol! would not let me thumb up your post, "I've reached the maximum weekly votes for this poster", so THUMBS UP all around anyway, Elise!
        • Nov 20 2013: hysterical, and thank you for the virtual thumbs up. I have to say that I have so appreciated your and Harald and Anthony's insights. The first couple of comments, while very helpful in underscoring the challenge we face, seemed to express a level of resignation that i found perplexing. First, it isn't my nature. Second, if we cannot have a can do mentality at TED, well ... so having y'all swoop in is really something, thank you!
      • Nov 20 2013: I would also consider your goals for supporting preserves/sanctuaries in conjunction with NPS only in that it is a Federal Govt entity, and as such is highly political, which may limit some types of information from being shared under or next to their NPS banner, such as the animal abuse issues? Pretty sure you could find some federal grant monies behind the major zoos and aquariums? I cannot say that for sure, of course, but nps employees are under a pretty strict policy about what they say, how they look and act while on duty, for instance.

        But I also know that NPS is trying to establish these very connections with wider audiences through the live cam network... Ranger Roy Wood just won the Tilden Award for his region for his vision and his work with, ultimately explore.org, to get those Katmai cameras up, and get the Rangers involved in live online chats with special attention to getting into classrooms. It was all a whopping success this last year.

        But you won't hear about zoo or animal cruelty, you won't hear about environmental threats except in the most generalized ways, in other words, no activism per say. Whether or not they would oppose being included in a 3rd party site that also had other cams and that offered these other informations? that would be interesting to know?
    • Nov 20 2013: agree completely. Locations often make the quality difficult, as in steady and sufficient power supply combined with steady and sufficient internet band connection... it's quite a big tech deal, and then there is protecting the cams themselves--weather, animals-- and how do you keep the coverings clean, etc. I have no knowledge of the actual choices in quality for both sound and video equipment you can use in such remote settings, I do notice differences in many of the cams that I watch, and they can be different quality at different times... nevertheless, well worth it. Also, for instance, certain places seem to be quite active most of the time, like Pete's Pond in Africa (can find it on ustream), they are24/7 with lights at night. No experts interactions on most cams i've seen however, only through explore.org--where I watch the Katmai cams, polar bears, many birds, beaches of Hawaii... the chat program they use, disqus, is horrendous--steer clear!

      Elise, TOTALLY agree that staff is needed to capture, edit and post clips, chats, the amazing moments missed while you were doing the job thing... and since animal lives are seasonal, cams all over the globe mean some kind of action day or night, wherever you may be, during slow season, you can catch up with the archived videos/chats... live and library.

      Excellent succinct list, Elise!
    • Nov 20 2013: Harald, forgot to respond to the lack of motion point you were making... some cams are indeed static, or are on an auto-pan/pause program, but many are actively operated by cam-ops/zoomies at different times. From what I have been able to gather, they are volunteers who are assigned a shift and certain cameras, which they operate remotely thru logging into some site on their computer. I'm sure there are other models in use as well. My point is that while they are active, the camera is looking for creatures, vistas, action, sunsets/sunrises, anything interesting in the environment, panning, pausing and zooming in close, drawing back out for a wide view.... you may have started with an interest in a particular animal, but it becomes the entire environment and the huge number of critters, plants, colors, you had no idea existed! For example, after the bears have withdrawn this last month, we are seeing eagles, foxes, ermines more and more. Good cam-ops are essential!
      • Nov 20 2013: Mary, thanks so much for this, and agreed on cam-ops. There is a term of art, charismatic megafauna, which suggests its only the Big Life that matters. I think we should have as part of out mission statement that all life is BIG LIFE.
        • Nov 20 2013: that is totally perfect and awesome!!! and True.

          Do you watch thru explore? if so, did you see the video chats with Chris Morgan? His beginning premise, "Why bears?", with the mission to connect their importance, which of course must include their environment, to your daily life?
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        Nov 20 2013: I agree Mary, most people walk through the world like sleep walkers. It's amazing how much interesting stuff you can find in even a small space.
        I have the fortune to have a fairly large garden (15.000 sqft) in a tropical place, so all the time something is going on. Whether that are birds taking a bath and playing, hummingbirds sipping nectar, a spider catching its prey or a snake digesting its lunch.
        The question how to you access all this activity. I don't know if there are "intelligent" cams that just scan for some kind of action and then automatically focus on that. If that exists that obviously would be a great tool.
        Otherwise you probably need real people that scan the environment and focus the cam on whatever action is going on. Anyway, I'm sure there are solutions.
        • Nov 20 2013: i will digress off topic and say how WONDERFUL for you! I am currently urban--not my nature, SO miss having a garden, the live cams have been saving my psyche in this regard... your friend's website you give above looks awesome, looking forward to perusing that.... I've also imagined an online "farm school" to help anybody, but especially growing urban populations, learn about local organic sustainable food production (aquaponics, controlled environment organic gardening, backyard, vertical, etc)... could have a physical center or be 3rd party host to so many programs... a companion program to the wildlife version?
    • Nov 20 2013: Great..I think there needs to be 3 levels of expertise involved.

      One guiding the use of the 3D environment
      another guiding the availability of live web material

      and another for the desired suitability of content.
      • Nov 20 2013: and maybe the fourth... someone expert at creatively guiding the dynamic integration of those into a whole? Oh, and let's remember the funding expert!
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    Nov 18 2013: I usually get the impression that they give the animals drugs to make them get up and walk around. I'm sure that's ludicrous, but I don't think we'd be incredibly surprised if that was the truth.

    So maybe we get this feeling when we visit the zoo that the animals are there for our amusement, and at their expense. I saw an ape once sitting alone in what looked more like a penitentiary than a cage. The walls were a yellowish color, though it was open to the sky with a single branch, from one concrete wall to the other. He had his head on his fist and appeared deep in thought. Or maybe I should call him an "it", and make believe along with the rest of society. It's an interesting world that we live in, when one stops to think about it.

    I'd agree with your reference to slavery that you made in a post below. During the Constitutional Convention there was a debate on the importation of slaves, and Charles Pinckney argued that "if slavery be wrong, it is justified by the example of all the world." and "in all ages one half of mankind have been slaves.". There we have that element of the collective conscious, a society's irrational behaviors justified by the simple fact that they exist on a grandiose scale.

    Though if the human race is going to collectively reconsider the way it treats other species, it seems kind of silly to start with zoos. Maybe not, as it's probably the first example of this irrational behavior that most children experience. But a zoo is clearly a sanctuary when compared to industrial farming.
    • Nov 18 2013: Fred, I will certainly agree with you about the gross inhumanity of industrial farming, and the general inhumanity to domestic animals. I don't eat animals, and when I find myself cooking them I go to great lengths for humane treatment indicators (e.g., at least 4 at Whole Foods), which is damn little consolation, if you've ever seen an slaughterhouse. Thank you, as well, for the fine reference to the history of slavery.

      Where I will disagree is that stopping any inhumanity is "silly." I'm quite certain that failing to take on everything at once makes the inroads we can achieve "silly," anymore than those who focused on voting rights of anti-miscegenation laws. The practical reality is that TED is a place to talk about how to improve our collective future, and I think there is too little talk of animals here -- to little acknowledgement. Also, perhaps I am wrong, but I sense that there is sufficient ambient discomfort with performing animals (circuses) and zoos that we have a genuine opportunity to engage people. What's more, for Lucy, who has spent 37 years alone, confined, on concrete and in the cold, we have a chance, and we must -- are obliged to -- take it to get her to sanctuary.

      And, sir, I trust you will champion my post on vegan-ism when it occurs. ;-)
      • Nov 18 2013: hi elise.I am a new come of this site, and I don't have enough information about this site. coud you plese explain about the site. i'm the student of mba.
        thank you so much
        my email : meysamy1988@gmail.com
        • Nov 19 2013: Great question, Hamed. We do not have a site yet, but our goal is to create a portal or access point where webcams of animals in nature of sanctuaries are available for viewing, explained by knowledgable individuals, and championed as the next wave in a kinder, smarter zoo that allows us to understand these magnificent beings for themselves -- without the cruelty of cages, crippling loneliness and boredom, and too often abuse - in a way that helps us to learn more, better and faster. Anthony has kindly offered to help with a 3D vehicle that could be used as the entrance and in lieu of human beings for the explanations. You should contact him directly, if its only the technology, not the animals that are of interest, though I hope the animals matter to you as well. Cheers, Elise
  • Nov 17 2013: If anyone is interested in experiencing the 3D virtual environment I am describing it is accessible 24/7 from my website http://thevirtualuniversegrid.com (full instructions provided.)

    And http://hihowru.com for more information

    There I have a recreation of a real world place in the U.K. known as Sealand. If one dives below the water there is an undersea marine observatory that is designed as a classroom for educators ..Moon, Mars environments are also available as are a large number of historical educational and training projects. Widely used also for health and science purposes, the U.S. Military has its own private grid known as M.O.S.E.S. where it carries out simulations and exercises.

    All necessary software is available completely opensource free, limited only by time and creative ability it can be hosted from home, it can be used on or offline, it can be turned on or off when required, there is even a portable version on a stick drive which is popular with educators.

    It can be set up by anyone who has the willingness to learn.

    It is the same as, and has all the features of secondlife but has the additional capacity of being an open 3D internet if desired whereas secondlife is a closed environment due to its commercial nature.
  • Nov 17 2013: Great minds think alike, but am more in favor of its opens source counterpart opensimulator.org
  • Nov 16 2013: Hi Elise,

    I admire your enthusiasm and remember well the museums and zoo culture you speak of as well as the open sale of exotic animals in street markets in England. Sadly it all still takes place in many countries and although I could go on about it at length. I am sure you know as well as I do..not so long ago I watched in horror as an Elephant was on display riding a bicycle.

    The idea I am suggesting is to have a 3D virtual zoo environment which I can set up and could be modeled on any place of your choosing. Over time the links to the feeds and webcams can be added and the zoo can grow in size. Limited only by the imagination.

    This 3D environment is ideally suited to that..as an example I would like you to watch this youtube video which is the closest to match your idea that I can show you quickly.


    Then if you study the information on my website http://hihowru.com you can decide if this will serve your purpose.

    As somebody already commented there is a wealth of information available on the web ..but that does not provide the immersive experience and site it all in one place in a fun and interactive way for kids.

    It is the age of gamification in both in schools and the workplace educators are very much in favor of virtual learning environments this one in particular which is akin to a 3D internet. ( This is not secondlife which is not suitable for children but is similar and private )

    The cost as I said can be free as all the technology is opensource and can be hosted from a home computer.

    My email for contact is bowerbirdcuriositiesunlimited@hotmail.com
    • Nov 16 2013: Thank you very much for such a prompt, thorough and insightful response. I do think that an "entrance" that is 3d makes real sense, and 3d guides can help to draw folks into to effective portals to live streaming feeds and explain what they're seeing. I'm too old not to want to be careful to avoid Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), and too young not to want to meld the best of technology and reality at once.

      Will email you separately, cheers and thanks so much.
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      Nov 16 2013: You could create an interface such as Second life and integrate the live feeds and any other features.
      This way you can combine education with gaming.
  • Nov 16 2013: Good idea ! A virtual zoo ! but you don't need to just think or talk about it I can help you do it very cheaply or free if you really want it .
    • Nov 16 2013: Anthony, thank you so much, -- how spectacularly awesome, and of course I would like to hear more. I don't expect you to work for free, and I'll gladly make a donation and configure the legal structure, so we have a functional not-for-profit that allows us to be the first and best worldwide virtual zoo.

      I think we should focus on children's needs, and assume that all of us are childlike when it comes to Big Life.

      So, I'm easy to track down on linkedin or google, as my name's the hallmark of a grandmother who loved Beethoven, and a slew of Italians -- no one else has it. Reach out, and let's talk. Cheers, and just plain wow!
  • Nov 14 2013: Elise,

    There was no need to apologize. No matter how much you would have studied my web site you would not have seen the opportunity. I only saw the possibilities when you challenged my comment. For me it opened a concept that I had not considered, that I could address both the interest in zoos and how to improve social consciousness of them at the same time. So I tried it to see how much interest it would add and then discovered all these wonderful live cams that you pointed out. So thank you for opening my eyes to making the map address a wider audience.
  • Nov 9 2013: You can view 27 of the World's Best Zoos in the Google Map, linked below, and it's associated Google Earth KML file located within the map. With them you can zoom in on the zoo's features. Several of them, those indicated in Red, enable you to digitally walk the zoo in Google Street. By turning on the photo option, you get to see photos of the animals taken by visitors. Each location has a link to both a Wikipedia or other resource and a link to the zoo's web site. By downloading the Google Earth KML file, and turning on the buildings layer you can see several of the zoos in 3D. The San Diego zoo even rendered in the trees.

    • Nov 9 2013: George, on the digital side, this is step one in a process and a real step forward. So, thank you.

      On all other grounds, it represents net zero in improving the lives of animals and largely a distraction. Showing people the current state of marginal or worse enclosures is not the goal. By way of example, "rendering in" is particularly disappointing: the point is not to "render in" trees for human beings to be duped, but to actually given trees -- real trees -- to the animals who need and deserve them, so the process of the seeing animals isn't turned into something awful. We can give people access to animals at no cost to the animals, and at a vast improvement to us as watchers.

      Not by the way, the statement that your board represents the "world's best zoos," borders on disingenuous. Disney's is not a "world's best zoo" by any measure of animal care or husbandry, any more than Tom & Jerry is a measure of our current view of race relations. Perhaps, it has a historical place, but we can and must have a much better present, not to mention future.
      • Nov 12 2013: I understood your article, and I can agree with your point of view. However, the zoos exist and they are not likely to go away any time soon. The rating system used to rate the zoos in the map was not based on how well they treat the animals, but on how good of a learning institution they are. To my surprise the zoo map is very popular and has been linked all over the internet by visitors

        On the other hand, you missed an opportunity. To your point, you should use the map to prove your point, use it to further social change. You should have asked to include your point in my map.

        So, I will go one step further by including a quote from your article in the map (the 3rd paragraph) along with a link to this article and 2 Live Cam links. Then you can make your point with a wide range of audiences online so that they can compare the caged animal with the wild animal right from their home.
        • Nov 14 2013: Wow, George, I am so very sorry to have missed the opportunity you identified, and so appreciative that you have taken the time to point out what I missed Please also allow me to apologize: I should have better explored the website, and figured out how to do what you have done. This is a good lesson for me, and I will be much more careful next time, the credit for which belongs to you. My very best,
    • Comment deleted

      • Nov 17 2013: Thanks, Carolyn and George. Take a look at Anthony's and Harald's suggestions -- I think we're truly getting somewhere. Cheers, and thanks for following.
  • Nov 7 2013: Great idea but I am afraid that people will miss the original sounds, the atmosphere, the smell, the interaction with the animals. Especially children want to touch the animals. Want to experience with all sorts of senses. But I do agree that zoos are sad places. Perhaps a mix of live and streaming feeds.
  • Nov 7 2013: Great idea but I am afraid that people will miss the original sounds, the atmosphere, the smell, the interaction with the animals. Especially children want to touch the animals. Want to experience with all sorts of senses. But I do agree that zoos are sad places. Perhaps a mix of live and streaming feeds.
  • Nov 7 2013: Great idea but I am afraid that people will miss the original sounds, the atmosphere, the smell, the interaction with the animals. Especially children want to touch the animals. Want to experience with all sorts of senses. But I do agree that zoos are sad places. Perhaps a mix of live and streaming feeds.
  • Nov 6 2013: Kirsten, super thoughts. I think we can create appropriate sanctuaries for animals -- see PAWS or Tennesse.

    I also hear you that perhaps we need to improve streaming feeds. However, I must say that every day my family checks for videos of Thika,Toka and Iringa at PAWS, for the Katmai bears in August and September, etc. We don't watch TV in our house, but we do find that we are enthralled -- truly gripped -- by streaming feeds of animals in the wild or in sanctuaries. We're able to get a sense of the animals' patterns and also see personalities of specific animals, both over time. They become OURS, and therefore our responsibility to make certain they're cared for. We donate routinely, we follow closely. It is not distance or apathy.

    One more thought. My children are in a Waldorf school (with nature as a premium), we have an organic farm with turkey, deer, coyote, fisher, bear, etc. as common visitors, and there is joy there. Yet, the streaming feeds of Annie (the elephant) swimming in the lake, diving and chattering in joy, feels magical for her and us at once. Try it, and then come back to me about how it's a magazine.
  • Nov 6 2013: If there is no way to create a sanctuary for animals that is safe and healthy and even prosperous for them and still allow humans to see them in person and interact with them, then just get rid of zoos altogether. Until those of us who actually want to live in the here and now and experience life directly instead of watching it on a screen die off, then a "streaming zoo" might as well be no zoo. A "streaming zoo" is just a jumped up version of a magazine with pictures of animals or a movie about animals that previous generations had access to.

    We are growing ever farther from nature and from real, live, growing things on the planet, including other people. Perhaps we will get to the point where our relationships are all virtual, no one travels except in their living room, animals are something you see on your iPad, etc. I'm not ready to go there yet.
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      Nov 16 2013: Kirsten, I think the idea of a virtual zoo is not to get people even farther away from nature. I believe the best option of all would be to watch animals in their natural habitats. However, since that is not always possible, people came up with the idea of zoos. That was long before there was any technology allowing us to gather information about exotic animals otherwise.
      We have to recognize that zoos, although the let you see an animal live, it is by no means a realistic representation of the animal's habitat, which means the animal hardly will exhibit natural behaviors.
      Personally, if I can't see the animal in it's natural habitat I prefer to watch a documentary or a live stream.
      I think even the old David Attenborough nature documentaries beat a visit to the zoo.
      • Nov 16 2013: Harald, I'm right there with you, and appreciate your weighing in here. I also would say that documentaries, with their editing, are different from webcams, where over time you get to understand (without impacting) an animal's personality and behavior. There's an opportunity to learn what it means to be a specific animal and type of animal that zoos cannot offer. My proposal is a way to get to humanity and improve education, by which I mean understanding, and with anthony's help I think we get there and have something so "unzoo" that we begin to think differently about animals. And ourselves. Cheers.
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          Nov 16 2013: I think there a lots of things that can be done as an alternative to a zoo.
          I'm a scuba diver and I know that not even the best aquarium in the world replaces a real coral reef.
          Installing cams on a reef with a 25/7 live feed would be the second best thing to actually diving there.
          Experts could even comment live on the stream so people can actually learn immediately about what's going on.
          Something like that couldn't even be done in a zoo setting.
      • Nov 16 2013: Harald, I agree -- Anthony (above) has suggested a 3-d framework, and I think we could have the "entrance" to a global zoo, where 3d experts talk about animals featured on a worldwide basis through webcams. Animals in the wild and in qualifying sanctuaries all are able to participate by providing streaming feeds. In this way, someone like you or me could begin to understand behavior. In some case, video may be ok too.

        If worldwide, folks fall in love with movie stars, I think they'll experience real devotion to the animals they come to know. THAT would be something.
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          Nov 17 2013: Elise, if you want to pull that off you need to write down a business plan. Even if Anthony can do the website for free, there will still be lots of other costs accumulate such as hosting fees, costs to obtain the live feeds, marketing, expert fees, etc, etc.
          At the end, you want to compete against zoos which means your project must be highly professional from the beginning on.
          Another idea, to get started you might want to focus on animals that can't be easily seen in zoos. This way you can attract people without having to enter into a competition with zoos. Eventually you can expand the coverage
        • Nov 19 2013: cannot comment on the tech supply chain end, except to REALLY plan it out for HIGH res for HIGH traffic!!! Cannot imagine the internet bills! And the interactive tech with the educational experts component--archives, keep these moments accessible, embedding basic overview facts, etc.

          Cannot comment on the financial foundational and supportive requirements would be, except to assume they would be huge. Perhaps grants. Consider crowd funding. Very high energy creative environment. Brings lots of "everyday" folks into the fold! How about site memberships?

          I do not feel that competition with zoos needs to be part of the equation. Vastly different models. Looking at a polar bear in a fake pool, or watching it on the tundra with it's cubs, or with its sparring mates, waiting for the ice to freeze... seeing a raptor tethered to a post, or watching a wild lifelong mating pair breed, lay eggs, raise and fledge their young..not in the same league. I would encourage distancing, in fact, from any 'zoo' reference in this biz, but rather cherish, grow and extend the different model you, Elise, clearly have, including the languaging. Words are also power. Like any business, ID the mission, set out the steps to getting there and grow, content, tech and financial... and go about walking them, adjusting as necessary along the way. I definitely agree that educating people as to the horrors of animal/environmental abuse is necessary, even more essential are the life-affirming options.

          “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
          ― Buckminster Fuller
      • Nov 19 2013: The good news, Harald and Mary, is that by day I'm an attorney who's area of practice is cleantech and clean energy, with a focus on advancing early stage innovation. For better or worse, this is what I do.

        In terms of making it professional (and Mary your points are dead on!), I was going to mosey over to the super-smart folks at the MIT media lab (as I sometimes teach at MIT's Sloan School), and talk to them about this project. I suspect, with their help, we could change the world in the most professional, and engaging manner imaginable.

        And, while I don't think we have to compete with zoos, if we play our cards right, we'll be able to exchange their participation in a much better worldwide system (ours) for transfer of animals that should not be there now to sanctuaries. THAT would be the measure of success. It won't be immediate, but if we are smart and creative, it can be ... Mary, the BF quote is my lodestar.

        Thanks for sticking with me here -- your thought leadership means a ton!
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          Nov 20 2013: Hey Elise, seems you are passionate about this. That's already a great start. Yes, at MIT there are a lot of smart folks. I'm sure you can find some good ideas there.
          Btw, do you plan everything for profit or non profit ? I think that's also an important point to decide from the start on.
    • Nov 18 2013: There are plenty! They are called National Parks and Preserves! And I can tell you that live stream cameras are NOTHING like either documentaries or magazines. It is like being a fly on the wall. They are infinitely superior if you are actually interested in witnessing the real deal in real time instead of just being entertained.
      • Nov 18 2013: I love parks and preserves. That is more like it! You can feel the breeze, smell the air, taken in the world with all five senses and if you observe wildlife it is real and you are there as a (considerate) fellow animal. It is real and alive and you can feel yourself part of the ecosystem. Unlike streaming video...
        • Nov 18 2013: I think having both is what will give the most people the most views and "interactions" and learning opportunities. I would never promote one over the other, but traditional zoo design is archaic and abusive, and what I would consider to be an inappropriate means of interaction.
      • Nov 19 2013: Thanks so much, Mary, you have it just right!

        Kristen, I get it, you want to be in the same space animals occupy. We aren't stopping that, provided that your opportunity comes without a profound or even inappropriate cost to the animal, e.g., riding on elephants.

        But, what I am saying -- loudly and clearly -- is that learning about snow leopards by taking three years to walk the Himalayas, however marvelous, is not realistic or desirable for even a fraction of the 7 billion people that inhabit this earth, mostly in poverty. So, let's give everyone access to animals as best as we can, and let's engage them, all of us together, in learning to love a lion languor, and a particular lion's gait, etc., to protect the beings, the life, that if we don't protect it will disappear. I'm 48, and it will happen in my lifetime, for elephants, rhinos, leopards, jaguars, tigers and lions. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't goddamn necessary, and I wont give up until we've done it.

        I should add a call out to Daniel Pauley, here on TED, who helped me to understand that, as animals become extinct, they pass from being numerous (in some instances common, as in the case of carrier pigeons) to rare. As a consequence, the loss is almost invariably perceived as losing what is already rare and therefore acceptable. For this reason, we don't seem to mind extinction as we should, with the heavy weight of responsibility.
        • Nov 19 2013: "But, what I am saying -- loudly and clearly -- is that learning about snow leopards by taking three years to walk the Himalayas, however marvelous, is not realistic or desirable for even a fraction of the 7 billion people that inhabit this earth, mostly in poverty."

          This is it actually. Why does anyone learn to care about the synergy of life beyond their immediate physical/experiential boundaries? How does anyone learn to care? Theme parks may put you up close to some animals, but at what cost to them? At what cost to your perception of wildness and its value? I would suggest that cultures remaining intact in their relationship to the planet and its natural rhythm and complexity, are not the least unaware of the slow decline of species, ecosystems.

          While being able to afford a vacation or two or more to go to these awesome places is extraordinary, I think it safe to say it is also privileged. For everybody else, again, these live cams combined with expert interaction is in some ways, even MORE than a week's vacation limited to certain areas, certain times, could ever be. I have never been to Alaska, much less Brooks River Camp, but I have been afforded an opportunity to develop an intimate relationship with that wild place, that no 3 day excursion could replace. Definitely icing on cake, but the daily viewing over time has afforded an intimacy that is priceless, and if/when you do finally make it out there into the actual environment, you can get so much more out of it. Also the population move to urban centers worldwide.. they NEED to remain connected to the global ecosystems that support it all.

          I've been blessed by much rural living, encounters with wild places, but poor and urbanized cultures may have little or no physical access, either voluntarily or endless other reasons, no real ideas at all about wildness beyond their immediate environment.. what is it's Beauty and why does it matter to me? these connections need to be made.
  • Comment deleted

    • Nov 6 2013: Super-smart observation!! We do seem to like celluloid (or its more modern variations) more than reality, don't we?!? We love ourselves in lights, but also far for movie stars (over the real human being down the street) -- genuine, deeply emotional crushes with perfect strangers (actors) with made up behaviors (characters). So, if it's true that we can, will and do embrace celluloid plus, why is it we have folks who prefer animals in bad situations rather than their celluloid plus happiness? It's too disheartening to think it's about the domination. So, let's give humanity the benefit of the doubt and assume that most people miss the obvious despair of lonely, confined, mistreated animals. If that's true, then it's simply a question of education, and that we can do. In spades. And there is hope. Thanks so much, again!
  • Nov 5 2013: Won't work for me. But I'm also fine with a "zoo" that was nothing but an exhibit of traditional "heritage" livestock breeds.
    • Nov 5 2013: Bryan, what won't work for you? I want to make sure that I understand. Thanks so much, and sorry if I'm being obtuse.
  • Comment deleted

    • Oct 29 2013: You too -- awesome thought on 3d! Thank you.
  • Timo X

    • +1
    Oct 29 2013: I love this idea, but I fear that it will take a long time to come to fruition. If you look at the difficulties that political leaders have in agreeing on issues like climate change, deforestation, hunger, tax avoidance, and war, which affect the well-being /humans/, I fear for the willingness to make resources available for the good of 'mere' animals.
    • Oct 29 2013: Timo, thank you -- I hear you and it breaks my heart. But, take a look at what's happening with performing animals. Circuses and animal performances banned in UK, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Bolivia, Peru, etc. We're changing the lives of our world's Big Life -- elephants, tigers, lions and bears -- as we speak. Also, just last week, the Toronto Zoo finally sent its three elephants (the oldest, in her 40's) from the frozen north to California. Alaska did so for Annie, and a lot of folks are working very hard to get Lucy out of Edmonton. This is our -- and animals' -- moment, and each of us can make a difference. I posted this after all, and we're now talking about to make a change. We've got six folks on TED. That's something. Now, let's get 60,000.
  • Da Way

    • +1
    Oct 28 2013: Whenever there's a demand, there will be markets and suppliers. And there will always be a demand for seeing animals live and up close. In the same way a lot of kids are exposed to petting zoos from a young age.
  • Nov 28 2013: Wordpress will send an email to Elise to approve the comment ..but I think she is having a problem with her password at the moment ..when she approves it it should appear..