Does the ZOOXXI programme aim to close zoos?
No. As evident from the campaign name, it does not propose zoo closure, but rather demands a zoo that is vastly different to the current model. A zoo that reflects the ethics and knowledge of the 21st century.
Can’t the animals be released?
Unfortunately not. Most of the animals living in captivity can’t be released, given that they wouldn’t survive in the wild. For this reason, we must find and create spaces that provide better living conditions than at present, although the animals will never be completely self-sufficient. However, the option of releasing animals is still viable for species in reintroduction programmes, provided that suitable candidates can be found at the zoo.
Why keep zoos open?
A zoo that aims to develop conservation and reintroduction programmes for local indigenous species is a necessary zoo. A zoo that can house, look after and rescue a wild animal that has been injured or illegally seized or abused is a necessary zoo. We need to keep zoos, but move on from the idea of “utilisation” to “usefulness”.
Won’t cities lose money?
On the contrary. Cities will not lose money because most public zoos are an expense, not a source of money. The prestige and respect that such a change will boost in a city’s reputation is priceless. These days zoos usually receive tourism, but do not inspire tourism or other funding dynamics that can be generated with the model we are proposing.
Won’t the new zoo be less interesting and educational than the current model?
Adding attractions adds interest! Virtual attractions and interactive educational content will be added. Animals that cannot be moved at first will be maintained, as will rescued animals (for their recuperation). In the long term, the presence of indigenous animals will also be retained in reintroduction programmes.
However, the new educational model of ZOOXXI proposes broadening the focus and adding to education about the species and about the individual. Without a doubt, an empathetic model in which we ask about the specific needs and interests of the animal in front of us will be a highly interesting, emotional and enriching experience. Interest lies in the ability to spark curiosity about our environment and encourage further exploration of animals, plants and ecosystems.
In addition, thanks to the interactive content, animal lovers will be able to take them home in a virtual way.
What about the children – where will they be able to see an elephant, then?
This example demonstrates that modern zoos do not help children see the reality of wild animals. In conventional zoos, children do not see ‘real’ elephants – they see the body of an elephant that does not behave like an elephant: it doesn’t move in large herds, or walk for 40 kilometres a day, or eat 80% of the time it spends awake. It doesn’t perform funeral rites or exercise the patriarchal model of learning. In the type of zoo we are proposing, it will be easier for the child to experience how an elephant truly lives, thanks to virtual educational content and highly developed audiovisual technologies. All of this will be reinforced with explanations of why the zoos don’t have “elephants”, even having life-size models of elephants.
Will this model be more expensive for the user?
There is no reason why the admission price should be more expensive, given that the zoo’s operating costs will remain the same.
Why do you have to change the zoo?
Because the model has become obsolete. Zoos have undergone huge changes throughout history. Many of them, for example, even had humans in cages (pygmies, Eskimo, as well as dwarves, albinos, people with humpbacks…) even up to the 1960s. This demonstrates that such institutions require constant evolution and change. Today, science does not allow us to ignore the facts: it has confirmed that animals are beings that feel, with their own needs, expectations, social organisation, essential objectives and interests. The various zoos in the world must adapt to this reality.
So, will it be a zoo without animals?
Most zoos have very high animal densities; lots of animals in not much space. A change in this situation is a priority for animal welfare. However, in the short term, zoos will house the same animals, in the medium term a few less, and in the long term they will accommodate indigenous fauna in reintroduction programmes, as well as rescued animals.
Which animals will go and which will stay?
This will be an open and democratic process. ZOOXXI’s proposal is to make a list of animals that could go to sanctuaries or reserves where they can develop their natural behaviour and personality. And it is society itself that will take centre stage in the dynamic of these transfers. For example, an NGO, a school, an office, a group of friends or an individual can organise collections to cover the costs of the move. This means that anyone can play a key role in these decisions, and the new zoo will be more civic-minded, transparent and participative. The visitor will cease to be a mere spectator, instead becoming a protagonist.
Are there other similar projects in the world? No. There is none with such a progressive and pioneering vision. This model will have a civic, scientific and educational committee, among others, to guarantee a transparent model of civic participation, with a scientific structure that is of service to animals and provides an effective educational model for citizens.
How much will restructuring cost?There doesn’t necessarily have to be any added cost. It could be achieved with the customary zoo budgets.
Do you receive technical and scientific advice? We don’t just receive advice, our platform matrix is the scientific committee itself. We have figures from the world of science such as Carmen Maté, Doctor in Zoology (primate ethology) and ex-director of Barcelona Zoo and Jaume Fatjó, ethologist and President of the Committee for Animal Protection from the Veterinary College in Barcelona, and nearly 20 scientists who have completed dossiers that feed the campaign.
Could this affect tourism? On the contrary! A new zoo model can be a new motor for quality tourism. A new driving force for the city, with new enclosed spaces that are dedicated to international scientific events, conferences, and places of learning for children, young people and adults via audiovisual and interactive models. These new enclosed spaces allow for activity every day of the year, despite the bad weather, something that does not happen in most current zoos.
Will jobs be lost? No, not at all. With the new content (e.g. technological), the zoo will see many more visitors and circulation. Therefore, it will be able to generate more new jobs. Many people will change roles, but they will not lose their jobs.
What will happen when the programme is applied? Where will the change be noted? Change will happen very gradually, as the change in vision and direction is consolidated. Initially, it will seem like a boat with a rudder: still in the same place, but facing a new direction.
Should all zoos be restructured, or are there good zoos? All zoos have something that needs changing, but some more so than others. There are several classifications for zoological parks, and each one faces a different challenge based on how much it has adapted to the science and ethics of the age.
Will the zoo be less fun? Completely the opposite. ZOOXXI has an important interest in maintaining itself as an institution for recreation, but with a new direction and a broader scope of functions. Our proposed action lines are as follows: to improve interactivity, enlarge spaces for educational recreation, to develop more interesting content for a modern audience and captivate a new audience that loves animals, science, ecology and new technologies.
What will happen to the zoos that are currently remodelling their facilities? Nothing. Recently remodelled facilities will be useful and can be utilised for other animal species. The investments made by the previous zoo model will be reused for the new spaces required by the ZOOXXI proposal.
Who is promoting the campaign? For the past 7 years, there has been a growing network of campaigners, scientists and educators (among others) consolidating itself into 9 work groups: scientific, sociological, archive, communication, education, art, activism, events and campaign. It is represented by a platform of 21 figures who come from various institutions, politics, the worlds of business and academia, from professional schools, as well as civil and media organisations. On an international level, the campaign has the support of the Fondation Franz Weber and the Animal Association LIBERA!.
What does a zoo need to do if it wants to become a ZOOXXI? Just say so. Bearing in mind that this programme demands a fundamental change in the zoo’s mission and vision, the restructuring proposal offers an enormous range of benefits. One of these is a gradual, progressive approach geared towards total restructuring. In the first stages of the restructuring programme application, neither the zoo nor its workers nor visitors will notice any significant changes. However, from that day on everything will be different – everything will have changed.