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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 24 2013: I think if having a forum on the website we will be able to discuss many issues. With every new idea comes a range of differing opinions and points of few and I do not feel even minutely qualified to say too much through fear of offending and alienating others but feel it is high time I committed to something and played my part.I feel I could support this project.
    • Nov 27 2013: Anthony and Mary, I will get access to the unzoo site tonight or first thing in the morning. As I have tried to reread these posts tonight, I think we must consider how to bets engage people to overcome their inherent apathy. Perhaps, that means focusing on children, but I hate to give up on us. So, my thought is that we should create a system of rewards for observations, for taking action, for effecting change. Please, think about that - after all, RED uses its 10+ ratings. Why shouldn't we develop a reward system allows people to see their peers rise to the challenge, with different age groups and truly descriptive names for kids?

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