About us

Zoo animals have captivated us for more than 200 years. In turn, we have captured and confined thousands of animals from around the world. Those creatures lived and died in strange destinations. This site looks at the way people treat captive animals, and why they do.

“I am Detained Here”, Postcard before 1912

Millions of people visit zoos each year. It’s a very complex experience both for ‘visitors’ and animals. Zoos claim to have ‘evolved’, or ‘developed’, while current visitors are apparently ‘educated’ by the experience.

A zoo is a special social place, a place where people and animals interact in a complex and revealing way.

Some zoos are overflowing with visitors. Others are now extinct. The history of a particular zoo, and of the people and animals in it, are a small part of a global story.

Captivating Animals  is a chance for us to create a thoughtful album of zoos both extinct and alive.

An extinct zoo, once in Stanley Park, Vancouver, will be an important part of this album. It deserves attention; the archives and the memories are near. As with other zoos–alive or extinct–the official story told doesn’t reveal the all complexity of life in captivity. Photos, memories, and reflections are a better archive.

Contributions are very welcome. Please consult or submit through “Contact”

Editing: The site will work to avoid the anthropomorphism too common in present zoo debate. Dolphins do not smile at me the way they do at advocates of zoos. Early writers, like Jacob Uexkull and Thomas Nagel, have  refocused the study of animals and humans interacting with animals. Our study is about the way people treat animals, and why.


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