Thoughts

Virtual Zoo

I love going to the zoo. There is something special about seeing a tiger up close and personal. However, the animals rights part of me hates the fact that these amazing animals are caged.  When the Blackfish documentary came out it took the world by storm and all of the sudden people hated Seaworld. People wanted Seaworld to release the orcas back into the wild, but this got me thinking. If we are demanding that Seaworld releases all of its orcas, why shouldn’t we demand everyone release all of their animals? Then I remembered how much I loved the zoo and learning about the animals. It is important for kids and adults 1to see these animals and learn about them and care about what happens to them, so if we release them all we can’t do that… can we?

I really started thinking about this because I wanted a solution that would benefit the animals and humans. The first solution was wildlife preserves. Now these are a little different than a zoo because the animals roam free on a huge protected piece of land but all humans can’t really experience that. Not all animals can be put in a protected piece of land humans want to be in, like the arctic or desert. So that idea is out.

2After many hours thinking about this with no luck I decided to go back to the basics. What is good and bad about a zoo. Good- people get to learn about animals close up. Bad- the animal is stuck in a small cage. Also when you go to a zoo most of the time when you go to see your favorite animal 9 times out of 10 it is sleeping. This was always a huge disappointment as a kid because you want to see that animals do the things you have see on TV. So there lies another problem: how do you make animals interesting?

I finally came up with a solution when I started thinking about Zoo Tycoon 2, which is one of my all-time favorite games. The reason I love Zoo Tycoon is because you can create enclosures for all kinds of animals ranging from a T-rex to a lion to killer whales. Then I thought: what if we could do this on a much larger scale? What if we could make a zoo with no real animals?

Once I came up with this idea I knew this was a winner. It really is the best of both worlds, people get to see animals up close and the animals don’t have to suffer being in small enclosures. I believe that the technology is out there if we can make a hologram of Michael Jackson on stage singing and dancing on stage… we can make a tiger.

3It would be absolutely amazing! Instead of actual animals being stuck in a cage, it would be a hologram. Plus you wouldn’t have to worry about your favorite animal being asleep, in fact, you could even interact with it and walk in its enclosure. We could bring back the Shamu show with holographic orcas. This whole thing is so much safer for employees, now they don’t have to worry about getting attacked by a lion when they go in to feed or clean the cage. Speaking of maintenance it would be completely different from a typical zoo, instead of paying for food, cleaning supplies, specific temperature and environmental needs, you would pay for the maintenance of the technology needed to bring these animals to life.

The enclosure itself would be real, the only thing fake would be the animals. This would help with realism, of course, people would know they were not real but they would look incredibly real. You could walk side by side with a polar bear. I would want the animals to interact with their environment, like play with a ball, run around rocks and trees, “eat nd drink”, basically acting like the animals do in Zoo Tycoon 2.

How Is This Not Happening?

Well, let me introduce you to the L.I.V.E. Centre being built in China. This zoo 5is basically as I described, it’s a full zoo with no animals. The company building this zoo is known for its work on “Jurassic Park: The Ride,” “Kongfrontation” and “The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman 5D” at Universal Studios.  The new project in China will feature a virtual zoo, a virtual aquarium, an interactive museum and a digital art gallery — and the group is doing it all with no live animals.

Even better with this kind of technology, you could throw guests into an African Safari then into the icy tundra. We could even create animals that no longer exist, that right I am talking about dinosaurs. Dinos, mammoths, giant sloths, saber tooth tigers, they are all possible. You could see animals that no human has ever seen up close. We could also have animals that never existed. Like unicorns, dragons, phoenix, anything! The possibilities are endless!

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We could have a zoo based off of our favorite books, like Dr. Suess and Harry Potter… or video games like Pokemon and Yugioh! I know where I am going on vacation! I will be at the exhibit with the lions and the girafarigs.

What do you think about virtual zoos?

What animal would you want to see?

Want to know more about the L.I.V.E. Centre project in China?