Zoo Evolving to Unzoo
July 09, 2021
The “unzoo” breaks the rules of traditional zoos, setting animals free instead of putting them in cages or restricted areas.
Unzoos are places where people can learn about wildlife and ecosystems in reconstructed natural habitats. Jon Coe and Ray Mendez initiated the idea of moving away from entertainment to letting visitors experience the natural environment with animals as the highlight. Unzoos take you into a natural habitat where restrictions are eliminated or concealed. Wild and endemic animals interact with the environment, giving them freedom, well-being, and greater emotional stability.
Seeing the energy of wild animals in a safe environment is a rare experience we should have more access to. The two key rules are positive animal training and sensory expansion. Clicker training can alter behavior while keeping animals completely in the wild. Clicks elicit certain types of behavior for rewards, without relying on force or fear.
Modern zoos have a core mission of conserving endangered species. This mission involves research in genetics, population analysis, physiology, reproduction, and assisted reproductive as well as caring for the welfare of animals, compatible with good ethics.
Implications for the future:
- Zoos around the world will be transformed so animals can live in more natural habitats. There will be more concern for ensuring the well-being of wildlife and educating the public through tours and safaris.
- The Unzoo concept could raise funds for conservation, which remains a key issue for many animal-related institutions.
- Coexistence of all living things will spark a virtuous cycle and spur sustainable growth.