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Inclusivity in Zoo Design

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by AKhan, 18 Dec 2020.

  1. HOMIN96

    HOMIN96 Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    To be fair, not like Batto has a ton of threads about his activity...so if you avoid certain threads, you might not even know him
     
  2. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member 15+ year member Premium Member

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    Some brief thoughts of mine. I hope they are of use:
    • Personally I feel no obligation to atone for the sins of the Egyptians, the Romans or even Sir Stamford Raffles.
    • What is your evidence that zoos are not already inclusive places for visitors? My observation is that zoos almost always attract a visitor base as wide and varied as the community they serve. They are already seen as a safe space. It seems to me some of what you propose risks driving a wedge between different sectors of the community and alienating some groups from the zoo.
    • You distain to work for certain type of zoos. Yet the need for good designers is surely greatest in zoos that do not come up to standard?
    • Human culture should have nothing to do with the design of zoo exhibits. They should be all about presenting the animals in the context of their environment. Support buildings should be as neutral as possible. You are correct that in the past and even today a lot of zoo architecture has been about human domination of the natural environment, often unintentionally. Your proposal does nothing to address this and just risks passing the domination from one cultural group to another.
    • You claim zoo admission fees are scandalously high, then call for massive expenditure on everything from tactile signage to longer opening hours. It is ironic that you are training to join the American school of zoo design which results in exhibits that are expensive to build and expensive to maintain. Without adequate income animal welfare suffers and the visitor experience suffers.
    • You make the scantest references to conservation and do not address the roll of zoos in conservation at all. To my mind this is is the most important element. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, there has to be something in it for the animals and that is conservation.
     
    Last edited: 1 Jan 2021
  3. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Haha ! Well put !

    Again, totally agree and well said.

    Yep, this also is what I was wondering, but I think that what @AKhan is arguing is more an extension of the Marxist critique on capitalist society to nature and zoo animals rather than a consideration of ex-situ conservation and its place or value within the zoo.

    Basically the concept of the alienation of man through capitalism is extended to animals as they are treated as commodities / exotic post-colonial accessories which leads to "alienated speceisism" within the modern zoo.
     
    Last edited: 1 Jan 2021
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  4. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member 15+ year member Premium Member

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    Species can go extinct just as easily in socialist as in capitalist countries. Apparently when describing a new species in China, you have to include a section on what use the animal is to humans.

    I gave up waiting for the Revolution many decades ago, I found it was somewhat like waiting for the Rapture. Now I just concentrate on the very real extinction crisis.
     
  5. Junklekitteb

    Junklekitteb Well-Known Member

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    Before I state my question, I will say I have not read the whole paper, because I personally feel the language is a bit too tiresome to read at a go. However, I specifically read the part about ‘animal choice’. One issue that is not talked about is the fact that an animal’s personal choices may not always be the best. Ignoring the aspect of coonservation, which MRJ has rightfully brought up, and the fact that an animals short-time desires don’t outweigh the long-time survival of its species, both non-human animals and people are notorious for not always choosing the ‘right’ or healthy option in a particular situation. This also goes alongside the fact that animals are kept in groups, sometimes multi-species, where the benefits of one (say the predations of a spectacled bear) are not feasible because of the effects it has on the other animals involved. I appologise if this issue was addressed in passing elsewhere in the paper, but as I said I am taking a bit of time to read the paper, and I felt the need to bring up this question lest I forget it.
     
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  6. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member 15+ year member

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    I started reading this paper and noticed a big mistake: 'Zoos, at their founding, symbolized power and colonization'. This is a common misconception and itself demeaning to the ancient foreign people who are painted as brutes thinking only about strength and conquest. Reasons of building ancient zoos were diverse, and were often written directly in ancient texts, far from modern historians imagination. They included exactly spelled out education of poorer citizens of the state about the nature in faraway lands - written explicitly on 1000s-year old inscription, I think in a Mesopotamian zoo.

    I think 'inclusivity' is a vague term, and for many people sounds like rather hollow ideology. This paper could be valuable if it spelled out and worked out explicit topics, like providing full experience for disabled people, ensuring support of the local community, ensuring common access of the poorer people, ensuring than animals have choice and control in their lives etc.
     
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  7. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

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    It depends on what aspect of zoo design you wish to pursue but most zoo and enclosure designers are trained landscape architects. Many are architects. A few started as industrial designers. They all then intern at a zoo design firm and hope to eventually get hired by some zoo design firm. Some do. Most do not. There aren't many positions and these days during the economic slowdown, some who were hired have since been laid off.
    There are no lighting designers (to pick a profession out of a hat) who exclusively work on zoos
     
  8. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I agree, and particularly in the case of China and Vietnam and to a lesser extent Venezuela. However, there are examples of socialist countries like Cuba which have managed their natural resources and biodiversity remarkably well.

    Yep, again me too and well said, I also concentrate on the extinction crisis instead of utopias and castles made of sand.
     
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  9. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member 15+ year member Premium Member

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    For your Cuba I nominate Costa Rica. I think the issue is the world is a lot more complex than we pretend it is. This especially applies to politics.
     
  10. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Not "my Cuba" actually as I was just stating the fact that the Cubans have managed to maintain their biodiversity remarkably well which is just objectively true regardless of where a person stands on the political spectrum.

    I agree that the world and socio-political contexts are far more complex than simple black and white propaganda conveys.

    Moreover, I agree with you that Costa Rica stands as another positive example in the region of a country under a different socio-political system that has managed to protect its natural resources and biodiversity incredibly well.
     
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  11. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member 15+ year member Premium Member

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    Just being casual in my language- nothing inferred.
     
  12. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    No problem ;) :)
     
  13. TinoPup

    TinoPup Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    Can you provide sources for that? I'm interested in learning about it.
     
  14. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    I was going to ask the same, you beat me to it :p
     
  15. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    I think @Jurek7 is referring to this journal article "The Earliest Zoos and Gardens" by Karen Polinger Foster.

    I can't access it via scihub unfortunately so can't read the full article but on the preview it doesn't mention anything about these animal collections in Assyria having educational signs for the edification of poorer citizens about fauna of distant lands.

    What the Assyrian civilization did have was inscriptions in their menageries that were to the effect of "Ashurbanipal conquered this land and brought back these animals for the pride of the city" etc.

    So basically this was less about education and more about the display of exotic animals to overtly showcase a totalitarian ruler's power in conquering other peoples and taming wild and ferocious animals.

    This was intended to legitimize the ruler in the eyes of their subjects as an intermediary between the realm of the gods and the world of mankind, a smiter of enemy peoples and dominator of nature.
     
    Last edited: 2 Jan 2021
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  16. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member 15+ year member

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    From books about zoo history, which are discussed in earlier threads on this forum.

    By the way, I noticed that the start of the paper, including a citation, is very similar to the Wikipedia article about zoo history, which in this case is not the best one. It never looks good in your paper. :)
     
  17. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but I think the problem when it comes to Ancient civilizations whether it be Ancient Egypt, Assyria, Greece, Rome, China, Meso America etc is when we apply the word "zoo" to what are either religious institutions (in the case of Egypt), bloodsport recreational "sports" (in the case of Rome) or menageries of the elites (in the case of all of the others).

    I don't think there is anything that really approaches a "zoo" and especially when it comes to the public and as opposed to a "menagerie" until after the enlightenment period when science becomes more ascendant and mainstreamed.

    We can use the term "zoo" loosely to describe these kinds of animal collections but I don't think it fits or is very historically accurate.
     
    Last edited: 2 Jan 2021
  18. TinoPup

    TinoPup Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    Which books? There are hundreds mentioned on this forum.
     
  19. Scottish Wildcat

    Scottish Wildcat Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    Without getting into all That, at a first glance at this thread's title I thought it would be more about inclusivity in the sense of accessibility for disabled people, or (for lack of a better term) 'safe spaces' and accessibility for kids with sensory issues, for whom the zoo is often a big and rewarding, but potentially daunting and difficult event. I think that's a discussion that might have more...relevance.

    I don't need the aid of a wheelchair or crutch myself, but I have noticed a couple of time when for example the whole park is built on an incredibly steep hill (yes I am looking at you Edinburgh), or you can't get to a certain enclosure/into a certain building without going over some steps with no obvious elevator nearby, or when a certain area has a distinct lack of benches, rest spots, etc.

    And, not that I think that this should be done because it would open a whole pandora's box, but I would be interested to see at least some estimation of the zoochat 'demographics'. Just from a cursory glance at usernames and threads from being on the forum three-or-so years, I'd guess that it's a majority male, but within that: age-ranges? Ethnicity? Region? Sexual orientation? (which I'd just like to argue is at least a little relevant in this context, without getting too deep into it) Which age-ranges are more likely to visit which sections of the forum? (I would be interested to see how young fantasy zoos go lol, I'm in my late teens but that used to be basically the only part of the site I would visit). Are Europeans more likely to upload pictures than Americans? etc etc. Again, would probably cause the site to go up in flames and is a singularly bad idea, but interesting to think about.
     
    Last edited: 2 Jan 2021
  20. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    The first collection / menagerie of captive wild animals (non domesticated) housed in enclosures (I'm not going to say a zoo as it is stretching the term) would appear to have been in Hierakonpolis in Pre-Dynastic Egypt (5000 years ago).

    As far as archeologists can tell these creatures were not obtained through conquest of other peoples but were rather kept by the elite and sacrificed and buried and interred with their owners when these died to accompany them to the underworld.