Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Zoo as Animals' "Natural" Home

The Los Angeles Zoo has just unveiled a brand new, $1.2 million advertising campaign aimed at both bringing in visitors to the Zoo's "Rainforest of the Americas" exhibit, and, presumably, discouraging people from stealing these often cute and cuddly animals and bringing them home with them.

The campaign is called "Every Animal Has a Home, Just Not Yours," and through print media and television commercials uses humor to show wild rainforest animals living in a human home, albeit not very successfully. Each ad ends with the campaign tagline: "Every cotton top tamarin/giant river otter/harpy eagle has a home. Just not yours."

The ads are cute, and are hopefully effective in keeping the moronic bro's who occasionally break into their local zoos and steal penguins and other cute animals for their girlfriends from doing so.

But they're also terribly ironic. In this print ad, which shows a river otter taking a messy bath in your bathroom, the point is made that he doesn't belong in your home. But read the fine print below, and what does it say?

"See these and other exotic species in their natural habitats at the Rainforest of the Americas Exhibit at the LA Zoo" (emphasis mine). So apparently the Los Angeles Zoo is now the natural habitat for these rainforest animals, who live, as with the cotton top tamarin, in the treetops of Colombia, while the giant river otter swims in the Amazon River.

Zoos today claim that they are primarily about two things: education and conservation, even though the public goes to zoos for entertainment. And yet the Los Angeles Zoo is spending over $1 million not to educate the public nor to conserve any species, but to tell the public that rainforest animals belong in the zoo.

What kind of a message is this?