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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.

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  • Nov 25 2013: I should be able to organize a cam to see kangaroo's ..plentiful in my area.
    • Nov 25 2013: Perfect. My experience is that they mostly sleep ...
      • Nov 25 2013: In the heat of day they group together in whatever shade is available but very active in the cooler hours ..we managed to save a nearby piece of land that was designated for development (friends of pooh corner ) as always there are some issues ..like them getting onto roads etc..
        • Nov 27 2013: Good for you!

          I would be very interested in your strategies for managing road mortality. We have a serious issue with road mortality here in the US, as well. I don't recall the precise numbers, but a substantial percentage of cougars in Florida, which are extremely endangered, die as a result of being struck by automobiles. They're wearing collars, and yet we still cannot protect them. It's incredibly frustrating, and my sense of it is that we need far better under/over high passes designed for animals.
    • Nov 25 2013: YAY!!! I was wondering about commercial free cams around the globe...as a "user", i want to see as much of it as i can!
      • Nov 25 2013: This is so right. I wonder if we can put out an RFP, and ask for surplus satellite, drone and webcam time at a cut rate ...
      • Nov 25 2013: So, this was worth it, as EPA is buying small (portable) satellite equipment: http://www.epa.gov/oamsrpod/hcsc/034/RFP.pdf

        I think we ask government beyond NPS for their eyes on the ground time -- a good collateral use, particularly for migratory behavior.

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