Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009: Zoo's clues

I know that I said I wouldn't write about zoos anymore - but the Herald keeps taunting me with bad articles about zoos. This one today, from AP, is quite bizarre; headlined "Modern zoos more sensitive to animal needs", it gives me weird chills down my spine. No, that's not quite it. It's more like I've just taken some pills from an unlabelled bottle at the back of a friend's medicine cabinet - I am anxious about them starting to kick in, but I'm not quite sure what the effects will be.

The headline itself is a bit problematic. I would suspect that a more accurate title would be "Modern zoos less crazily insensitive to animal needs". But that's not what I'm here to tell you about.

The tone of the article isn't quite right either, approximating that of a wide-eyed 15-year-old with a free zoo ticket, writing for the school newspaper. But that's not what I'm here to tell you about either.

The most interesting thing about the article is that you can do a little experiment with it:
  • Replace all the mentions of "zoo" with "prison".
  • Replace "zookeepers" with "guards".
  • Replace "zoo animals" with "inmates", "lions" with "murderers", "giraffes" with "rapists", and "Asian black bears" with "Asian and black criminals".
Now read through the article and see if you can trick yourself into believing you are reading an article about the successes of a progressive, humane and efficient private prison system.


  1. who do you think the 15-year-old "King of the Jungle" would be?

  2. Did you notice one of the zookeepers was called Jeannine Jackle? The Herald missed a trick there! Oh how we could have laughed...

  3. I was pretty ambivalent about zoos until I read that article - bears playing with kegs? A warthog's food being wrapped up "like a Christmas gift"??!! Is that seriously the best being done, that never occurred to anyone before and is worth getting excited about? I kinda figured there was a lot more going on to keep zoo animals occupied and it was a little more scientific and stimulating than scattering food rather than putting it all in one place.

    I think I'm beginning to understand your obsession. Bring it on, more zoo stories!

  4. At least the US zoos are teaching animals about the miracle of Christmas.

  5. I wonder if those zoos are also teaching intelligent design...