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!