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Animal Shows in Zoos

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Calyptorhynchus, 23 Jun 2016.

  1. Calyptorhynchus

    Calyptorhynchus Well-Known Member

    7 Oct 2012
    Hi all,

    A bit of a prickly subject, and I'll say upfront that I am not a fan, but I was wondering what the general opinion is on shows in modern zoos and which are, in your opinion, some of the best and more meaningful shows around.
    Please note I am referring to modern, 21st century zoos, not those very much improvable institutions with circus-like presentations ;)
    Looking forward to hear people's opinions:D
  2. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

    28 Jan 2014
    League City, Texas
    I quite like educational shows. They're a good way to get people to come over and get excited about learning about animals.

    When I was a kid, I'd see a bird show at the Minnesota Zoo. Don't know if they have the same one these days, but it was neat. Showed off different types of birds. Houston Zoo has a sea lion show where they teach about ocean litter, it's cute.
  3. Rsaltmarsh

    Rsaltmarsh Member

    2 Jul 2016
    Fountain Inn
    It depends on the animal(s) in the show. But for the most part i Luke to keep the annals "wild." Without human interaction besides training for vet visits.
  4. AnaheimZoo

    AnaheimZoo Well-Known Member

    12 Jun 2011
    Connecticut, USA
    I am not a fan of animal shows either, however, I really did like what Steve Irwin was doing with his crocodiles at the Australia Zoo back in the day. I liked how his shows with the crocodiles showcased their natural behaviors, such as their ambush hunting methods, the death roll - things like that. I also like the cheetah runs that many zoos have implemented. I'd love to see a cheetah in the midst of a full sprint. I much rather see an animal doing those things, as opposed to seeing it balance a ball on its nose or jump through hoops.

    Basically, if it's a show where the animals are doing the things that they were born to do, I don't mind in the slightest.
  5. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member

    29 Jan 2008
    Speaking in defence of shows, that is shows that present natural behaviours, two points:
    1. The public are really paying attention so this is probably the best opportunity to get conservation messages across to visitors.
    2. Properly done, they can be excellent enrichment for the animals involved.
  6. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

    3 Sep 2013
    Baltic Sea
    Like all aspects of entertainment, it depends how (professionally) it is conducted and how the well-being and safety (and dignity ^^) of all involved is considered.

    A show illustrating the unique capabilities of the animals and offering the animals and staff positive mental and physical stimuli within their natural capacity while thoughtfully educating the audience? Hopefully including useful medical training? Great!
    A show mainly playing for the comedic value and wow! entertainment effect, but positively stimulating for the animals? Ok...
    A show where it's all and only about ENTERTAINMENT: I'll see myself out...

    I wish more European zoos would include lesser known species in public demonstrations (of medical training), may it be bats, birds other than parrots or birds of prey, reptiles, fish, invertebrates etc.
    The flight shows at Jungle Park Tenerife or at Vogelpark Walsrode including various species of storks and ibis are neat examples for a flight show integrating "unusual" species.
  7. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

    19 Dec 2007
    Everywhere at once
    I am for, if they are properly done.

    I was rather humbled by animal show in Singapore zoo. It was not showing anything unnatural - mostly animal was coming with its keeper, getting food, eating it, the presenter was talking about the animal, and the keeper with the animal was going out. So a procession of smaller animals in and out. And two trained otters which fetched plastic bottles, teaching people not to litter.

    It was very good to interest people who are casual visitors. Zoos often complain that most visitors don't read labels etc. Here whole families were sitting, sometimes eating their packed lunch, and passively absorbed education.

    I personally was not interested, but thumbs up for Singapore zoo. The zoo reached the segment of audience which most zoos don't know what to do with.
  8. overread

    overread Well-Known Member

    9 Dec 2015
    I have to say I'm in agreement that, properly run, such things can be beneficial to the zoo as an organisation/attraction - to the visiting public in terms of awareness and education - to the keepers in terms of increased access/contact for ease of transporting/medical and benefit to the animals in terms of increased enrichment.

    For animals which are not destined for re-wilding/release programs I think its a very viable option. They can't be kept purely in a wild environment (can't hunt - can't roam etc...) and they are not being sent back to one. Their environment will, for better or worse, always be captive. Thus programs that aim to engage them and provide a form of enrichment I think is an important thing in breaking up the monotony of what is otherwise a captive life.

    People (visitors) are also far more likely to interact and pay attention; heck even just the most basic form of interaction and show in the form of a feeding event often attracts crowds on a daily basis at zoos (so much so many aim to try and structure their feeding events so that they work a circuit around the zoo or segments of the zoo).

    I also think that in the study of animals and behaviour the ability to interact with animals is a very powerful element in starting to understand them. Thus interaction provides an avenue for increased understanding; if that can be built into a form of entertainment and education for the public and not just the niche of specialists then so much the better. I think the risk in trying to prevent such activities is that all it aims to achieve is continued reduction in who it influences and who is exposed to it instead of preventing it outright. Thus all that would happen is you'd be limiting the circle of influence back to just the keepers; whilst many visitors would have little to no experience nor understanding - a critical failing in education but also one in inspiring a new generation of keepers; zoo workers; conversationalists etc...