A Real Zootopia? Ben Minteer Examines the Evolution of Zoos

What if it were possible to create a zoo without enclosures, a place where visitors could move freely among the elephants and giraffes?  And what if zoo designers actually got so good at simulating the “real” wild that we (and the animals) even forget we’re in a zoo?  Would this deep immersion of people in a highly naturalistic zoo landscape connect them to other animals in new and important ways — or would it simply be another kind of animal spectacle?  

These are some of the questions raised by “Zootopia,” a bold hybrid of zoo and safari park planned to open in Denmark in 2019.  Center faculty member Ben Minteer writes about the Zootopia idea in Future Tense-Slate, an essay excerpted from a chapter in his forthcoming volume (co-edited with Jane Maienschein and Jim Collins), The Ark and Beyond: The Evolution of Zoo and Aquarium Conservation (University of Chicago Press).  Read more here.