By David Grazian
Orangutans swing from Kevlar-lined hearth hoses. Giraffes ceremonial dinner 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 Hi-tech dinosaur robots growl between metal bushes, whereas owls watch lively cartoons on outdated tv units.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 throughout 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 little toddlers, and the opposite human primates that make up the zoo's social international. He indicates that during a big shift clear of their unlucky pasts, American zoos this present 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 barriers we frequently use to split tradition from nature, people from animals, and civilization from the wild. even as, zoos deal with a desert of competing priorities--animal care, schooling, medical examine, and recreation--all whereas trying to function facilities for conservation within the wake of the present environmental and climate-change situation. the area of the zoo displays how we undertaking our personal prejudices and needs onto the animal country, and make investments nature with which means and sentiment.
A revealing portrayal of comedian animals, thrilled childrens, and feisty zookeepers, American Zoo is a impressive close-up exploration of a vintage cultural charm.
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Additional resources for American Zoo: A Sociological Safari
When you talk about marsupials, it gets harder and harder to explain what a marsupial is without explaining its birth. . And then the Father’s Day show is even harder to do. . 49 At City Zoo, the turtles and tortoises that resided in the reptile exercise yard were probably the most notorious public exhibitionists on display—so much so that the zoo’s educational staff specifically instructed its volunteers to respond to curious children using strategies of misdirection and evasion, along with a litany of fun animal facts.
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. While signs explain the rats’ natural origins (Asia), they also note laboratory animals’ relationship to humans. 56 Meanwhile, on the West Coast the Monterey Bay Aquarium displays some of its marine wildlife—walleye surfperch, strawberry anemone, vermillion rockfish—in its Wharf habitat, that blurry border space between terrestrial human settlements and the salty ocean where sea creatures swim on tides full of trash that they sometimes transform into makeshift homes.
At Metro Zoo, bald eagles enjoy an open-air exhibit, since as injured birds rescued from the wild, they pose few flight risks. On the other hand, regional flocks of wild black vultures regularly swoop into their cageless enclosure to pilfer the eagles’ carefully calibrated rations of meat prepared by keepers. In such cases, the distinction the zoo makes between captive and free birds of prey obviously means very little to the birds themselves. Nature makers face a second set of dilemmas when creating zoo exhibits.