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Seattle's Pacific Science Center = Zoo?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by snowleopard, 27 Dec 2014.

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Would you count Seattle's Pacific Science Center as a zoo?

Poll closed 26 Jan 2015.
  1. Yes, the Pacific Science Center is a zoo

    13 vote(s)
    72.2%
  2. No, the Pacific Science Center is not a zoo

    5 vote(s)
    27.8%
  1. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I recently visited Seattle's Pacific Science Center with my wife and kids and we were pleasantly surprised at the quality within the establishment. The 6-acre campus includes a pair of IMAX theaters, a Laser Dome, and essentially 5 interconnected buildings. The question that I have for my fellow zoo nerds is whether I could add it to my career total of approximately 250 zoos/aquariums. I know of some zoo-obsessed individuals who include everything from Science Centers to Natural History Museums but I'm always stumped when it comes to deciding what exactly constitutes a "zoo". In Vancouver there is a "Telus World of Science" that has a Nature Gallery with around 13 terrariums and I've never really considered that place anything resembling a zoo. However, the Seattle Pacific Science Center has the following:

    - a 4,000 sq. ft. Tropical Butterfly House
    - a Naked Mole Rat exhibit
    - approximately 20 terrariums (mainly invertebrates; a few lizards and snakes)

    It seems to me that the Seattle establishment could possibly count; I'd love to see what others think!

    Here is the link to the facility:

    Pacific Science Center
     
  2. sooty mangabey

    sooty mangabey Well-Known Member

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    If it has non-domestic animals, on show, artificially maintained - it's a zoo!

    Add it to your list, Scott!
     
  3. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    I also sometimes struggle with the classification of more ambiguous collections, but this one seems fairly straightforward for me.
    It sounds like even the butterfly house on its own could be a standalone attraction, so I'd count it. :)
     
  4. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member

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    I'd agree with that. Probably a couple of provisos, firstly there are permanent exhibits, and there are staff who's job description is animal care. IE I would probably exclude a couple of terrariums where a teacher or a janitor or some other random person looked after the inhabitants.
     
  5. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    Since all the votes are piling up against me, I may as well go on record and state that I am the (so-far only) no vote.
     
  6. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    You do have to draw a line somewhere. Many restaurants have fish tanks - are they aquariums?

    I admit I don't have a hard and fast definition, and whilst I'm comfortable with that I realise many more aren't. I like to think about whether live animal displays are the primary or at least co-primary function of the attraction. Sea World on the Gold Coast is at least as much about the animals as it is the rides, so I count it. The Royal Children's Hospital here in Melbourne has meerkats and a very large coral reef tank, but clearly calling it a zoo is complete nonsense. It's a hospital.

    Melbourne Museum has a smattering of wildlife displays but they aren't the main attraction there, so I don't consider it a zoo. On the face of it, this Seattle place sounds very much like it.
     
  7. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree completely with the above post. Very well said.
     
  8. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not sure that I understand the point of arguing whether it is a zoo or not.

    It is a science museum with a live animal collection, as many science and natural history museums do. The institution's primary purpose is obviously not the display of living zoological exhibits, which it seems to me is the definition of a zoo.
     
  9. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I think that this thread is a very healthy and polite debate and we each have our own opinions on what is and isn't a zoo. Jonas Livet, the 29 year-old French zoo nerd, has now visited more than 1,200 "zoos" but he includes things like Natural History Museums and that has inflated his numbers. Each to their own!

    I'll now add fuel to the fire. Off the coast of British Columbia, in the capital city of Victoria, is a tiny "Bug Zoo". The primary objective, in fact the only purpose of the institution, is to showcase invertebrates to the public. I've never visited but the place is apparently very small and essentially has around 20 terrariums full of creepy crawlies. The facility is showcasing live animals, there are staff that work only with live animals and the word "zoo" is even in the title of the establishment and thus I think that we can all probably agree that the Victoria Bug Zoo (as bare bones as it is) qualifies as a proper zoo. A small, nondescript one but nevertheless clearly still a zoo and it seems that it would be difficult to argue otherwise.

    Here is the link to the famous Canadian tourist attraction:

    The Victoria Bug Zoo TM

    Now moving on to Seattle's Pacific Science Center. The primary focus of the institution is not to showcase live animals as there are 6 acres and 5 interconnected buildings with bits and bobs of just about everything. Part of the facility includes an Insect Village area with approximately 20 terrariums that are larger in scope and take up more space than what is found at the Victoria Bug Zoo. One could call the Pacific Science Center a "zoo" based simply on that information alone. However, there is also a display of naked mole rats and a 4,000 sq. ft. walk-through Butterfly House. If one were to call the Bug Zoo a "zoo" then surely the Science Center fits the bill as well.

    To add fuel to the fire is a cursory glance at Vancouver's Science World, which I've never included in my all-time zoo totals. Again, the primary purpose of the institution is not to showcase live animals but nevertheless there is a large Nature Gallery with a smattering of objects of intense interest (Tyrannosaurus Rex fossilized skeleton, animal hides, mounted specimens, etc) along with exactly 13 terrariums with live animals. I'm really unsure about including it but I can name people that would do so in a heartbeat.

    Much to ponder...
     
  10. sooty mangabey

    sooty mangabey Well-Known Member

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    But there are places like Chessington and Flamingoland, and possibly Busch Gardens too, where the zoo is certainly secondary to the stuff - but very definitely a zoo nonetheless.

    What a fantastic idea!
     
  11. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    Yep. Definitely not perfect. But it's ultimately subjective and hand-wringing about a hard and fast definition is a bit pointless. I'm content because I don't necessarily think all animal attractions are 'zoos'. I also look for a (again, a subjective) minimum scale to a facility. Bali Butterfly Park, Ballarat Birdworld and Canberra Walk-through Aviary are examples of paid attractions I've visited that I just don't think are quite big enough to warrant the tag. I visited the old Blackbutt Reserve in Newcastle once (I say old because I don't think it was rebuilt after a fire?). It had quite a few aviaries and a few native mammals, but it was a public park with a few animals. Not a zoo. Tidbinbilla in the ACT has a smattering of captive wildlife but it's really a protected nature reserve. Not a zoo.

    Really this stuff only matters if you want to max out your list of zoos visited as much as possible. That's fine, but I'm not going to count those places on my list.

    Indeed, though it wasn't uncontroversial given the >$1b cost of the new hospital. Btw, it must have made the Queen feel old to open it on her latest visit given she also opened the outdated and undersized one it replaced some 50 years earlier!

    The hospital is about 250 metres from the Melbourne Zoo, and the meerkats are cared for by keepers from there. As far as I know for census and collection planning purposes they are part of the Zoo's collection.

    I don't know the management status of the aquarium, which I guess I should more accurately call a tropical marine tank. It's cylindrical, with a height of perhaps 10 metres and diameter of perhaps five. A spiral staircase wraps around it,so it's visible over two storeys. The largest inhabitant is a humphead Maori wrasse, though I think there might also be a leopard shark (AKA zebra shark, to avoid confusion) that will eventually out-size it. I can't remember.

    I only live about a 15min walk from the hospital but obviously, given it's a children's hospital and I am (thankfully!) childless, I don't hang around there. The aquarium is in the main foyer so I go and have a look occasionally. The meerkat exhibit is also in a public area, but quite deep into the hospital and I don't feel comfortable going to see it. I've had the briefest of glimpses once. It's one of the best looking meerkat enclosures I've seen.
     
  12. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member

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    I think the issue is that the word "zoo" has multiple uses, including legal ones, and that each use has a definition attached.

    Some might argue that the only true "zoos"are urban collections primary set up to house examples of mega-fauna and based on the pattern of the first institution with that title, London Zoo. Indeed we have an immense catalogue of terms to describe other types of animal collections.

    Obviously Snowleopard is using the term in a wider context, and is wondering how much he can stretch it. I think it is his list, and ultimately he has to decide if he feels comfortable including it. Personally I would for the reasons listed above.
     
  13. HyakkoShachi

    HyakkoShachi Well-Known Member

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    If a museum can be a zoo, then what about botanical gardens that have aviaries? Shouldn't they be called zoological gardens?
     
  14. Macaw16

    Macaw16 Well-Known Member

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    Never heard of this place before but sounds to me like a museum with a zoo.
     
  15. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    I generally consider something a zoo if displaying (and possibly educating about) animals is the primary purpose. It's pretty common for museums to have a few live animals on display, usually insects and small fish but sometimes other stuff.
     
  16. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I visited Seattle's Pacific Science Center for a second time yesterday and I will most definitely be counting it as a zoo. The few people on this site who would disagree all have legitimate points and if the facility had only a dozen or so terrariums in one area then I would not count it on my all-time list. However, there is a 4,000 sq. ft. walk-through butterfly greenhouse, a saltwater touch tank and the following 28 species in a section titled "Insect Village".

    Species List (28 species): Naked Mole Rat, Red-Tailed Boa Constrictor, Corn Snake, Green Iguana, Leopard Gecko, Western Painted Turtle, Axolotl, Velvet Ant, Honey Bee, Darkling Beetle, Dish-Backed Darkling Beetle, Water Beetle, Blue Death-Feigning Beetle, White-Eyed Assassin Bug, Katydid, Vietnamese Stick Insect, Colorful Samar Walking Stick, Australian Prickly Stick, African Giant Millipede, Giant Desert Centipede, Giant Brazilian Cockroach, Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, Domino Cockroach, Emperor Scorpion, Golden Huntsman Spider, Black Widow Spider, Chilean Rose Tarantula and Vinegaroon.
     
  17. JVM

    JVM Well-Known Member

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    As someone who was halfway unaware of modern roadside zoos until recently, a part of me still strongly associates the word "zoos" with quality, accredited exhibitions and megafauna, while places that happen to house live animal attractions feel like a distinct category. This is more my own fault than anyone else's. This is partially influenced by the fact the local Chicago museums - probably due to the nearby zoos - don't include live animals on-exhibit, save some chicks at the Museum of Science and Industry

    I don't actually have a good, definitive answer here.
     
  18. kateL

    kateL Member

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    I'm from Seattle and have been the Pacific Science Center since I was a kid and honestly, I really wouldn't categorize this as your typical zoo. There are a lot of things that are hands on in the museum, which allow for a really great learning experience for your kids (as well as yourself). Definitely not what your child or a visitor would expect though if you told them that you were bringing them to a zoo. I definitely would just consider it more of a hands on museum with some animal displays.