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Discussion in 'United States' started by geoffw, 28 Dec 2003.

  1. reduakari

    reduakari Well-Known Member

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    Wow--won't PETA and IDA have a field day as these elderly Asian spinsters start dying one-by-one in "Elephant Odyssey."

    Interested to see how this exhibit comes out--the almost total replacement of the incredible hoofstock diversity once on display in this part of the zoo will be missed by some--rumor has it their general curator left in dismay over the dismantling of the once-amazing artiodactyl collection of the Zoo.
     
  2. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    San Diego's "Elephant Odyssey" is a peculiar exhibit, combining a prehistoric/modernistic set of animals that aren't geographically compatible. Having dinosaur-era tar pits near a new jaguar exhibit should be an interesting concept. And the fact that the 6 Asian elephants coming over from the Wild Animal Park are all extemely old makes it seem that those pachyderms will indeed start dying off over the next decade.

    Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo has a "herd" of elephants (three to be exact) and two are Asian and one is African. Like San Diego they have been criticized for this mixing of species, as one would think that by now all modern zoos would have phased such practices out of existence. It's intriguing to note that both Seattle and San Diego are regarded as two of the better zoos in North America, and yet both have been blasted for their elephant procedures. Last year David Hancocks accused Seattle's keepers of using chains on the elephants legs each and every night, and I'm not sure if he was correct or not in that assumption. The elephants then spend a good 12 hours chained by their legs in the small barn while the zoo is closed to the public.
     
  3. okapikpr

    okapikpr Well-Known Member

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    What primates now inhabit the two enclosures that held the Douc Langurs in Sun Bear Forest and next to the Orangutans?
     
  4. reduakari

    reduakari Well-Known Member

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    As I understand it, "Elephant Odyssey" is loosely attempting to portray the North American (Californian) environment of say 20,000 years ago, when American lions, jaguars, pronghorns, ground sloths etc. inhabited the region--as did now-extinct species of elephants. In Southern California, the La Brea Tar Pits area a very well-known repository of fossils form that period (not dinosaurs), so it makes sense to include that in the exhibit. It is an interesting approach, especially for fans of Tim Flannery's "The Eternal Frontier."

    My concern is that given the extremely poor interpretation present in all of San Diego's current exhibits, will visitors ever "get" this concept? Monkey Trails is supposed to convey the idea of Asian and African Forests, but one never really knows which area you are in, and the circulation thought the exhibit confuses things even more. Graphics area clearly an afterthought, not designed in tandem with the animal and public spaces And I'm willing to bet the crude exhibit techniques (crappy rockwork, ugly barrier details, only partially-developed sightline control) will continue in this new project.

    As to mixed-species elephant exhibits--you can't win. LA tried to separate African and Asian, and got huge flack from animal "rights" groups for breaking the social bonds between individuals....
     
  5. okapikpr

    okapikpr Well-Known Member

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    Very true. Los Angeles even sent one of their African cows to Knoxville and join their herd. The whole saga was pagued with lawsuits on the elephant's behalf and the "elephant friends" would fly out to Knoxville just to visit and see how she was doing, then report that she was "unhappy and miss her friends in Los Angeles" because the zoo hadn't fully integrated her into the herd.

    And Elephant Odyssey is an awesome concept, I only wonder why no one has thought about this before? Plus it brings together a combination of exhibits the zoo needed to build...elephants, califnornia condor, big cats, bear. Even though it took out the hoofstock exhibits, elephant odyssey will also free up a lot of space elsewhere in the zoo for future redevelopements: elephant mesa, bear canyon. And if the zoo can ever get the new parking plan developed there will be an additional 25 acres? of flat land for new exhibits. I hope the zoo will publish the new masterplan, rather than mention a few things and hide the plans like most zoos tend to do.
     
  6. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @okapikpr: great point about the masterplan, as it is due this year and should be very intriguing to read. That's if it actually becomes accessible for the average zoo fan.
     
  7. Ituri

    Ituri Well-Known Member

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    Sun Bear Forest = Gabriella's crested gibbons
    Next to orangs = Francois' langur
     
  8. okapikpr

    okapikpr Well-Known Member

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    Are there Francois Langur still in the pen near the koalas?
     
  9. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    i agree that "elephant odyssey" is an extremely interesting concept (and yes i'm an eternal frontier fan) - but i do wonder how appropriate it is for an urban zoo.

    at least, a zoo of my tastes.

    to me its more something i would expect to see at, say disney's wild animal kingdom in an open range setting. i image cruising though a recreation of an extinct landscape, using extant species as stand-ins all roaming around together would be quite enjoyable.

    but will you get that at the san diego zoo? certainly from what i can gather the most appealing element will be missing - the animals, particularly the elephants, will not be living in a large mixed species area. the zoo is too small for that, instead you will view elephant, guanaco, camel, zebra all more or less in their own separate enclosures...

    there's one other thing that concerns me - how relevant is this exhibit? from an educational point of view its certainly an interesting concept, but is the educational value going to be there from a conservation perspective or is its value going to be more aligned with something you would learn in a museum. what i'm trying to say is - will the important conservation message of elephants in asia be diluted in by representing them in an already extinct american contrext?...

    obviously, its going to rely on interpretation to hold all this together. and how thats done is going to make a big difference. thus we shall have to wait and see to really know how "odyessy" turns out...
     
  10. okapikpr

    okapikpr Well-Known Member

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    does it really matter if the exhibits conveys something that could be learned in a museum. Zoos are living museums, except the animals aren't quite extinct yet. As for a conservation perspective, the extinct of mammoths and mastadons cannot be attributed to a single cause (like dinosaurs in theory). Therefore parallels can be made between the mammoth extinction and the future asian elephants face today.

    And if the elephants, zebra, and camels are in different enclosures...so are other species in themed exhibits found in other zoos. Just because species aren't in the same pen doesn't mean the average visitors cant grasp the concept that those species are from the same habitat. And zoo design allows barriers to disappear, so it can appear that many species share the same pen. Otherwise all zoogeographic exhibits cant fully convey that concept either.

    Besides, most visitors dont read signs anyway. To them lions will be tigers and tapirs will be anteaters. They are happy just to see the animals, I dont think they care much about interpretation. The interpretation is for us, people who read signs, to enjoy. I dont think it will be to hard to hold together the prehistoric zoogeography of South California...it would be like building a southern california exhibit with different species in it.
     
  11. reduakari

    reduakari Well-Known Member

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    But San Diego is sure to NOT hide the barriers between species--just look at the awful fences between hippos and okapi, polar bears and caribou, forest buffalo and otter, etc.--all in exhibits that were intended to convey connections and be "seamless." They just never pull it off. And good interpretation is not just signs, but the artful design of the total environment. Hard to acheive when creating viewing spots for the massive tour buses is a major design parameter (and I'm sure multiple cafes and gift shops as well).

    From the plans I've seen, the cat enclosures are going to be no larger than the current outdated moated and meshed pits, and it appears they will be pretty simple mesh cages with no effort to disguise the containment.

    But I hope they get it right this time. If only, for once, to justify this "world's best zoo" claim/aura.
     
  12. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    okapipr - you bring up two valid points.

    one - that parallels can be drawn between prehistoric and current extinction trends (of elephants particularly)

    and two, that even geographical themed exhibits usually don't have "mixed species exhibits"

    i just think its a bit odd. i applaud the creativity. but think its an odd choice for a zoo. that said, san diego has never been in the slightest bit phased with being geographically correct, and obviously their masterplan will look like a "jumble" of zoo animals much like zoos of the past have.

    its just not suited to my tastes, not so much in a zoo (i'd love to see it elsewhere though)..

    anyhow, no right or wrong here...
     
  13. Zooish

    Zooish Well-Known Member

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    Maybe its a conscious choice of San Diego to be different and not opt for geographical theming? Sometimes, it may just be a matter of convenience, certain geographically diverse species requiring new exhibits; It could also be that San Diego doesn't want a "cookie-cutter" African exhibit where visitors will see all the same animal combos seen in zoos all over the world.

    If interpreted well, the concept of geographically-different animals occupying the same "environmental niche" is actually quite nice. I don't mind it anyway, IF it is interpreted correctly that is.
     
  14. PAT

    PAT Well-Known Member

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    I like the idea. I'm sick of african exhibits and i live in Australia where there are 8 at best. Maybe the problem is the lack of different antelope species.
     
  15. Coquinguy

    Coquinguy Well-Known Member

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    if san diego does manage to pull this one off then good on them. if the American Natural History Museum can justify spending $160 million on a dinosaur exhibit which isnt going to save dinosaurs from extinction them good on san diego for doing something different.
    just as the Easter Island apocolypse has relevence to the international community, the mega-fauna extinction event has many parallels with the modern extinction crisis. Interpreted effectively, I cant see a difference between interpreting anthropolgical history and the current zoo emphasis on integrating human cultural artefacts into zoo exhibits.
    just an interesting concept which maybe extends the human/culture theme...
    just as some zoos are taking the 'immersion' theme one step further by recreating 'bioregions' or 'ecosystems' as opposed to generic habitats.
    one further thought. one of the reasons Woodland Park Zoo copped so much **** about its elephants was from the death of its 6 year old female, which caught the herpevirus from the African elephant. You would think a conservation and public relations savvy zoo like San Diego would want to reduce this risk if ever they do breed Asians by persisting with an integration of the city African cow with the SDWAP herd, and thus keep the species seperate.
     
  16. okapikpr

    okapikpr Well-Known Member

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    The Asian elephants at San Diego's Zoo and Park are all too old to breed. I would be worried about integrating an African elephant exposed to Asian elephants into a herd of African Elephants that has never been exposed to Asian Elephants. That could transmitt the disease to the breeding African Herd.

    It will be a long time before San Diego will breed Asians again. I wonder if they will ship out their Asian bull, Ranchipur - bull elephants, I believe, can breed at older ages.
     
  17. Ituri

    Ituri Well-Known Member

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    I for one am quite disappointed by the demolition of Horn and Hoof Mesa, most outstanding collection of ungulates imaginable. Who was the curator at this point anyway, the name seems to elude me.
     
  18. aw101

    aw101 Well-Known Member

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    So will all of the hoofed stock be transferred to the wild animal park? That would mean they have much more space and a more naturalistic environment, so it's better for the animals overall. What will replace the Hoofed mesa?
     
  19. Ituri

    Ituri Well-Known Member

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    The much talked about "Elephant Odyssey" is taking up the former Horn and Hoof Mesa. Some of the hoofed animals went to the WAP but I think most went to other zoos and refuges.
     
  20. okapikpr

    okapikpr Well-Known Member

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    I heard that the Masai giraffe at the zoo are being moved to a new location within the zoo. Does anyone know where they are now located?