Thursday, March 12, 2009

Detroit Zoo and

Just last month I spent some time working in Detroit. I met some great folks and had a good time but was overwhelmed by the cold (a high of 1 degree one day!) and was startled by the all-but deserted downtown. Seriously, there was no rush hour to speak of!

So I'm always happy to see positive articles about the cultural and scientific institutions in the Detroit metropolitan area. The Detroit Zoo in particular seems to get a lot of good press, like this article looking for volunteers and singing the praises of all the great work volunteers do for the zoo. Again, I'm always happy to see articles that talk about how important volunteers are!

But nonetheless, I have a question: does it strike anyone else as a little strange that zoos have jumped on the dinosaur bandwagon? I understand completely why they would; it has been shown time and time again that dinosaurs bring in the visitors.

But zoos are for living collections, or am I missing something? How do natural history museums feel about the increasing number of zoos either incorporating dinosaurs into their permanent exhibitry or else hosting dinosaur traveling exhibits? Do they feel that the zoos are poaching on their territory? How do zookeepers feel about the inclusion of "fake" (animatronic or models) animals being exhibited along side their real-life animals? Does the presence of dinosaurs enrich the zoo experience, or is it simply a money maker? Anyone have any thoughts?

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