Friday, November 1, 2013

Zoo Animals Around the World

Artists who photograph or otherwise represent non-human animals are one of the major inspirations for this blog. How they look at animals--whether wild or domestic, or in the wild or in captivity--tells us a great deal about how society as a whole sees, and also treats, other animals.

In these haunting photos by Canadian photographer Gaston Lacombe, we see animals kept in non-American zoos in conditions that most of us would find inadequate, to say the least.  Yet the reality is that many American zoos keep animals in conditions very much like these; many are better, for sure, but many are very similar and some are even worse, even as zoos both in the U.S. and around the world are all changing their message from "entertainment" to "education" and "conservation."

Either way, much of what is happening for the zoo visitor is looking, and much of what is happening for the zoo animal is being looked at, and all that the gaze entails.

From John Berger:

"The zoo cannot but disappoint. The public purpose of zoos is to offer visitors the opportunity of looking at animals. Yet nowhere in the zoo can a stranger encounter the look of an animal."


1 comment:

  1. I did a review of a young adult book, One Kingdom, for Vegbooks. It fits quite nicely into this discussion re: zoos, photography and the honesty and ethics of looking/observing.