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ZooChat Cup - Europe

Discussion in 'ZooChat Cup' started by CGSwans, 25 Feb 2018.

  1. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    It’s the Champion’s League, but with less staging for penalties. 64 European zoos, 63 head to head polls. One winner. FunkyGibbon wanted me to call this ‘Swan zoo to rule them all’, but his puns are as bad as his taste in music, so it ain’t happening.

    I thought this might be a fun way to generate debate. We often talk about the merits of collection x versus collection y: is it better to have lots and lots of species, or a smaller but more unique collection? Is it better to have 25 primate species in good but not spectacular exhibits, or half a dozen species in brilliant ones?

    I’v made a list of 64 zoos from across Europe. I’ve given eight of them seedings, based on the top ten lists that a number of people posted towards the end of my European trip thread. I’ve selected another 56, representing a balance of outright quality and geographic representation. I’ve put the list through a random list sorting tool to create the draw. The seeds are:
    1. Prague
    2. Berlin Zoo
    3. Berlin Tierpark
    4. Zurich
    5. Chester
    6. Burgers
    7. Plzen
    8. Vienna

    The rest had to take their chances. I’ve done the draw, and there’s some pretty juicy first round match ups. I won’t post the full draw right now – it’s more fun to release it gradually – but here’s the list of zoos in the field by country:
    Austria – Salzburg, Vienna
    Belgium – Antwerp, Pairi Daiza, Planckendael
    Czechia – Dvur Kralove, Ostrava, Plzen, Prague, Zlin
    Croatia – Zagreb
    Denmark – Copenhagen, Odense
    Estonia – Tallinn
    Finland – Helsinki
    France – Amiens, Beauval, Doue-la-Fontaine, Jardin des Plantes, Mulhouse, Paris Zoo
    Germany – Berlin Tierpark, Berlin Zoo, Cologne, Dresden, Duisburg, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover, Leipzig, Magdeburg, Munich, Muster, Nuremberg, Rostock, Stuttgart, Wuppertal
    Greece – Attica
    Hungary – Budapest
    Ireland – Dublin
    Italy – Rome
    Netherlands – Amersfoort, Artis, Burgers, Rhenen, Rotterdam
    Poland – Poznan, Wroclaw
    Portugal – Lisbon
    Russia – Moscow
    Spain – Barcelona, Cabercino, Valencia
    Switzerland – Basel, Zurich
    United Kingdom – Bristol, Chester, Colchester, Cotswold, Edinburgh, London, Paignton, Twycross, Whipsnade

    There might be a few unlucky German collections, but I figured a quarter of the spots was enough for any one country.

    So how does this thing work? It’s *not* about which zoo is your favourite. That’d be boring. What I’ve done instead is divide the traditional components of a zoo collection into seven categories:
    - Primates
    - Hoofstock, including elephants and cetaceans
    - Large Carnivores
    - Small mammals, including marsupials
    - Reptiles and amphibians
    - Birds
    - Fish and invertebrates

    Each match will focus on one or more of these seven categories. So say Chester were to face Berlin, with the category being carnivores, you must base your vote on comparing the two zoos’ carnivore collections and exhibits. The criteria you use is up to you: you might decide to vote for whichever one has the most species. You might decide to vote for which one you think has the best exhibits overall, or perhaps the rarest species or best breeding record. If you want, you can vote on the basis of a single spectacular exhibit, even if you think the rest suck.

    You can use whatever source material you like to inform your vote. If you’ve been to both zoos you obviously have a sound basis on which to vote, but you can use Zootierliste, the galleries, reviews, studbooks, maps and whatever else you can think of. You can also be swayed by the arguments for or against by other posters: all polls will have the option of changing your vote, so if you have a strong opinion on which zoo should win make your case in the thread. Try to win people to your side!

    There’s only one thing you’re not allowed to do. You must not vote based on what you think of the rest of the zoo. Berlin Tierpark might be your favourite zoo in the world, but if it comes up against, say, Twycross with primates as the category, you’re going to have to be ready to explain your vote if you stick with Berlin. Yes, explain: all votes will be public.

    Ties will be resolved by re-matches, with a new category, in the first instance. A repeat tie will mean both zoos are eliminated, with their next opponent granted a walkover. All votes will be open for a week in the first and second round, but might go longer once we get to the business end. There’ll be four polls underway at any one time. I’ll post them in the general European board for now, but given there’ll be 63 matches over the course of the year the moderators might want to consider setting up a sub-forum.

    I hope you all think this is a fun idea. I’ve decided to contain it to European zoos, where we have a critical mass of users who have visited a large number of the zoos in the competition. If somebody else wants to pick up the same idea and run with it for North America or Asia-Pacific that’d be great too.

    I’ll post the first four polls soon, after people have had time to read this thread and understand what on earth I'm going on about. I’m going to do each eight-zoo segment of the draw together, so our first four contests are…

    Prague vs Artis, with large carnivores

    Salzburg v Colchester, with small mammals

    Rostock v Zlin, with birds

    Bristol v Zagreb, with primates

    Enjoy!
     
  2. ANyhuis

    ANyhuis Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Very, very interesting, and I'll definitely take part, since I've been to almost all of these zoos.

    But here are a few zoos I believe should have been included: Loro Parque (Spain), Kolmarden (Sweden), Kristiansand (Norway), Wildlands/Emmen (Netherlands), Parco Natura Viva (Italy), Sosto (Hungary), Warsaw (Poland), Longleat (UK), Zoom/Gelsenkirchen (Germany), Givskud (Denmark), Madrid (Spain), Amneville (France), Opole (Poland), Izhevsk (Russia).

    The exclusion of some of these zoos makes me wonder if there is a certain "bias" against certain kinds of zoos in this competition. How can a "best zoos in Europe" competition not include the zoo that has been rated #1 in the world by TripAdvisor? (Loro Parque) Kolmarden, Wildlands, and Zoom are clearly world class zoos! Why include Rome instead of Parco Natura Viva (or even Torino)? Just my thoughts.
     
  3. Shorts

    Shorts Well-Known Member

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    This is a great, if a little insane, idea (or maybe that should be "insane, if a little great idea").

    It's gonna be interesting, long and controversial (I'm sure some will struggle with the idea of a great zoo losing because they have one poor category) =should be good though, let the battles commence.
     
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  4. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    Loro Parque is one of the highest places left my bucket-list. It wasn’t included because it leans heavily towards one or two areas of strength, whereas I have mostly looked for prominent zoos that have a relatively broad focus (though also with different emphases, because that’s the fun bit). That’s why two of the very best collections I’ve ever seen, Apenheul and Walsrode, aren’t included.

    I’ve included everything from Hannover to Antwerp, style-wise, so not sure the ‘bias’ suggestion is fair. As for TripAdvisor, I haven’t noticed a close correlation between how zoos are rated on TripAdvisor and how they’re rated on zoochat.

    Most of the others are no doubt perfectly good zoos, though the only one I’ve been to (Madrid) is genuinely crappy. Without expanding out to a ridiculous number of zoos, some were always going to miss out.
     
  5. Shorts

    Shorts Well-Known Member

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    I think some of these are specialist zoos which just wouldn't work in the style of competition (e.g. Loro Parque would lose at everything except birds). And, trust me, Longleat really doesn't belong in such exalted company.

    While I'm sure some could argue the list isn't perfect, let's not make the competition anymore difficult than it already is :D-it's gonna take a lot of time and "debating" as it is. At the end of the day it's just a fun thread to generate interesting debate and it's completely possible the winner might not be considered the best zoo by some/many/anyone (it might just have a lucky draw that plays to one or two strengths).
     
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  6. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    Basically I figured that if I tried to corral everybody into picking 64 zoos we’d still be arguing about it when TeaLovingDave finishes his trip thread from whatever year that was. :p

    If this idea catches on I have no intention of doing it more than once - i’ll pass it on to somebody else, and whatever zoo list they choose to use. :)
     
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  7. lintworm

    lintworm Well-Known Member

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    Calling wildlands and zoom world class zoos is extremely subjective and the vast majority of Dutch and German zoolovers would disagree. Choices have to be made and all zoos that are currently in seem to be worthy choices to me.
     
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  8. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    I've posted the first two threads, but I re-thought how to do things a little. To keep us ticking over, and also to hopefully finish this before Christmas, I figured I'll post two polls each day, so that every day we have two results until we're through the entire first round. Good idea, or bad?
     
  9. TZDugong

    TZDugong Well-Known Member

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    What a great thread! I’ve only visited around 5 European zoos so this will be great to read others opinions on zoos that I haven’t visited.
     
  10. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Just remember, we are moderators so we could easily enforce his terrible sense of humour ;) :p

    Not that mine is much better, given I coined the pun in @Chlidonias signature *and* the music reference in one of @Hix 's trip reports!

    Put it this way - every single Dutch zoo enthusiast I met whilst on my recent trip to the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium spoke with considerable dislike for Wildlands. As did a fair few "civilians" I got chatting to :p

    That was a cruel but accurate blow :p and the year in question is 2015......

    Annoying thing is, I got over the writers block some time ago, and have considerable swathes of notes written - now I just don't have the time and energy after getting in from working nights!
     
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  11. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Well-Known Member

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    How about one per day moving forward? Fourteen per week seems like a lot.
    Is there going to be a draw at the beginning of each round or are the brackets already fixed?
     
  12. Welsh Zootographer

    Welsh Zootographer Well-Known Member

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    At that rate it will be over by Easter. :)
     
  13. agnmeln

    agnmeln Well-Known Member

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    I’ll look forward to finding out if any of the zoos I have visited end up going head to head.
     
  14. ANyhuis

    ANyhuis Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    This American regards Wildlands as the 2nd-best zoo I've seen in the Netherlands, and I've been to 7 of them. Zoom is one of my Top 5 in Germany. The dislike of these zoos is pretty much the same as the dislike of Disney's Animal Kingdom, while I personally consider Disney among the Top 10 in the USA -- easily! For me, what I'm looking for is something unique, something that makes the zoo different from the hometown zoo you usually go to. It has to be a zoo that is worth it for a foreign tourist to spend a half-day of holiday/vacation on. Wildlands, Zoom, and Disney all fit this description, as do Loro Parque, Kolmarden, Kristiansand, and Parco Natura Viva. But if you're just looking for a very complete menagerie, then yes, Plzen, Berlin Tierpark, or Antwerp will be high on your list.

    For me, I have no understanding of picking Rome over Parco Natura Viva, Dresden over Zoom, or Amersfoort over Wildlands. But the worst exclusion to me is Kolmarden, which is very close to a Top 10 European zoo for me.
     
  15. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Out of curiosity, what would be your overall ranking of the seven you have visited then? For that matter, what would your German top 5 be?

    As I have recently visited the Netherlands, and have visited Germany a few times now, it is naturally only fair for me to provide my own equivalent rankings:

    1) Burgers
    2) Rotterdam
    3) Artis
    4) Zie-Zoo / Amersfoort
    6) BestZoo

    1) Tierpark Berlin
    2) Zoo Berlin
    3) Walsrode
    4) Tierpark Hellabrunn
    5) Magdeburg

    Unique and different, of course, does not necessarily mean good :p
     
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  16. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    I know very little about Parco Natura Viva but the other two pairs (Dresden v Zoom and Amersfoort v Wildlands) would seem to be well supported by broad sentiment on Zoochat. I haven't been to any of the four. It's quite possible I erred by excluding Kolmarden - Scandinavia is a little off the beaten track for zoos and I went mostly with what I know, with the addition of Odense which is immensely well-regarded for doing a great deal with very little.

    I must say that I'm a little irritated by the suggestion that I have simply excluded zoos I dislike. For one, I quite enjoyed Hannover, a zoo that is stylistically very similar to Gelsenkirchen. I've also included Zurich, Valencia, Pairi Daiza, Rotterdam, Beauval and Leipzig as other zoos that have similar design aesthetics to the ones you cite.
     
  17. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    I'm going backwards and forwards a little now. I don't want to swamp each discussion thread. I might try posting two new polls every three days, and just adjust as required.
     
  18. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Well-Known Member

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    Zoom is certainly a 'better' zoo than some on this list, which includes such stinkers as Tallinn, but CGSwans has been quite clear that outright quality was not the only factor in play. And besides, Zoom is heavily flawed in its own way.


    As a fun side game, I'm going to make a bold prediction: Koln will win :) It has the pedigree to take on the thoroughbreds above it, but most importantly it performs well in all categories; there are no scaled landmines waiting to trip it up.
     
  19. ANyhuis

    ANyhuis Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    CGSwans, I apologize for suggesting that YOU excluded zoos based on dislike or bias. I do think there's a bias here on ZooChat, and you are simply following that bias -- through no fault of your own. You are simply following the beliefs of the many on this site who hold these views. What I'm speaking of is the strong distaste here for zoos that do a great job in "theming" their exhibits, trying to make visitors feel like they are in another part of the world. Heaven forbid the zoo might have a ride (or many rides, as Wildlands has) or aim their exhibits at children.

    You are quite right that Zoom Gelsenkirchen is VERY much like Hannover, which makes me very curious why you didn't include both of them.

    You are also correct that you really should have ventured further north to Sweden to see Kolmarden as it is clearly one of Europe's Top zoos! You also should have gotten up to Norway to see Kristiansand. But then again, <shudder shudder>, these zoos have rides and both are very popular with children!

    I once read someone here on ZooChat critiquing Disney's Animal Kingdom, saying he doesn't want his zoos to be like a theme park, but rather he wants zoos to be more like museums and libraries, with a similar emphasis on education. I have a feeling that such an opinion is common on ZooChat.
     
  20. KevinVar

    KevinVar Well-Known Member

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    As I would personally put it, the reason you like it is because it's more of an American-stylized ''zoo''. That just doesn't do it for Europeans and that's why it's absolutely loathed by most zoo-lovers over here. It would most definitely be kicked out of the game very early on without discussion.

    That aside, I think this is a great idea! It's going to be interesting to see the final outcome but even more so to read the discussion it generates.