Denmark's Insane "Zootopia" Zoo Flips The Roles Of Humans And Animals — PHOTOS
From the traditional humans-pointing-at-animal-in-cage format to the safari, the concept of the zoo has evolved through time ... and now we have this. A Danish architecture firm has come up with "Zootopia," a cage-free zoo that reverses the roles of animals and people. At Zootopia, humans are enclosed in small spaces so that animals can let loose and be themselves (while still being ogled). Denmark's Bjarke Ingels Group, also known as BIG, is proposing to transform Givskud Zoo, a zoo and safari park in Givskud, Denmark, by turning it into Zootopia.
The project aims to improve living conditions for zoo animals by reducing human elements and even human presence. The company states on its website:
We must make sure that our cities offer a generous framework for different people — from different backgrounds, economy, gender, culture, education and age — so they can live together in harmony while taking into account individual needs as well as the common good. Nowhere is this challenge more acrimonious than in a zoo. It is our dream — with Givskud — to create the best possible and freest possible environment for the animals' lives and relationships with each other and visitors.
But a closer look at the proposed environment raises the question: Would Zootopia actually be better for the animals?
The Unconventional Design
The project imagines an environment that lets animals run free and hides humans from view. Some of the spaces designated for spectators include glass pods made of one-way mirrors, underground chambers obscured by foliage and other natural elements, and even flying cable cars that travel through the zoo. The animals' space is divided into three habitats: America, Asia, and Africa.
The main visitor space is a circular area at the center of the entire zoo, which allows the animals' space to span without being broken up, an upgrade of the traditional zoo design.
Observing Animals at Zootopia Is a Bit Like Spying
It's noble that the architects want the animals to feel free, but at the end of the day, they're not — since Zootopia is still a zoo. And instead of adopting the usual transparent spectator-captive dynamic, Zootopia turns humans into voyeurs and the animals into unwitting subjects. I don't know about you, but I have no interest in violating an elephant's privacy. At a traditional zoo, at least the animals know they're being watched.
The Concept Undermines the Animals' Intelligence
Animals are not idiots. Also, they have incredible senses of smell. Living among pods and cable cars whizzing by them every few minutes will not put them at ease like living in their actual natural habitat would. They'll know something is up.
Assuming that the zoo will be maintained and cleaned by humans, rather than robots, the animals will sense human presence no matter what. That kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?
Images: BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group/Facebook