Writer @benwallacewellssteals a bit of my thunder in his recent article The Case for the End of the Modern Zoo ( http://t.co/XzoTpN42pR ). One of the central questions of my next book and of the project I have proposed to the folks at National Geographic for their Expedition Granted program (http://bit.ly/1jITOd1 ) asks some fundamental questions about the future of zoos, aquariums, and marine parks.
Now, I don’t for one moment believe we need to do away with them. But I do suspect that zoos, aquariums, and marine parks may be at a cross-roads and may need to make some fundamental changes in the way they do business. Perhaps they will need to reconsider how (and whether) they keep certain animals – like killer whales, elephants, polar bears, and apes. Perhaps it is time for a rational discussion that explores what is truly best for the animals, asking who is right – the zoos and marine parks who want to keep doing business as usual, or the people who are lining up to shut them down altogether? The answer, I suspect, lies somewhere in between as Wells suggests: “In 25 years, there will likely still be some way for Americans to see exotic animals. But I will be pretty surprised if those places have cages, mirrors, smoke machines, and conference-room tanks for 12,000-pound whales. There may be nature preserves. But it seems to me that we’re pretty rapidly reaching the end of the era of the modern urban zoo.” I wonder if he will be proven correct?