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Virtual Reality Zoos - a Good Decision fo Future

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While the preservation of wildlife and breeding are the foundation of today’s zoos, the function and consequent shape of them has altered over the centuries, yet, in a progressively unpredictable world of ours, what could, or rather should a future zoo look like.

Roughly 99% of animal and plant species, which measures to over five billion are estimated to be extinct. Scientists project that nearly half of the presently existing plant and animal species are on track to become extinct by 2100. Exceedingly, most species that become extinct are never scientifically documented (Merica). On the topic of zoos, it is elusive that they did little to educate or inspire the public, captive breeding has several problems and many species are not suitable for captivity, this is why we need to shift our focus of breeding animals to using technology and documentation to prepare for the future.

Zoos bought animals from traders who required them from the wild. They claimed that their main purpose was to teach the public about endangered species except they made no attempt to describe the animals in the context of the plains, forests or other places where they lived. Subsequently names were gifted to elephants, tigers and other creatures as if they were pets, however this does nothing for the animals and isn't at all educational.

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Further, Zoological gardens did little more to educate or inspire the public than traveling circus menageries (Arrandale). Modern enclosures are rare, with most built during the dark ages of animal husbandry without a thought for their occupants' needs. But even now, many zoos have not kept up with advances taking place in some of the world's best zoos. For example, the Central Zoo Authority, the governing body of zoos, mandates that crocodiles should be maintained in clear water. This might be good for humans but crocodiles prefer the security of murky water; they feel vulnerable and exposed in clear water.

A seemingly minor issue like this can make a major difference to the comfort of animals. Zoos are becoming facsimiles—or perhaps caricatures—of how animals once were in their natural habitat. And too often, these are high-tech facsimiles that do not enhance the animals' welfare. As to the claim that the best zoos are helping to save species by breeding them in captivity. To put animals on exhibit as ‘specimens’ and ‘social groups’ torn from the very fabric of the ecosystems and bio-fields in which they evolved is a violation of the biological and spiritual unity of all life.

Reintroduction efforts have been unsuccessful and that zoos would better serve the cause of wildlife conservation by devoting more time and resources to help preserve threatened habitats around the globe. When witnessing a calamity such as the current extinction crisis increase, doing something feels better than doing nothing. Which is one reason captive breeding programs are so common—it’s difficult to stand by and watch a species careen toward oblivion. But a new study says our interventionist urges often lack scientific support and, in some cases, do more harm than good. This claim may be hard to swallow since you’ve probably heard stories about captive breeding bringing species back from the brink. For instance, the California condor whose numbers rose through captive breeding beginning in 1991. Since then its population has grown, but the California condor still remains one of the world's rarest bird species: as of 2017, there are 463 California condors living wild or in captivity. While this can be important in the conservation of species, there are several associated problems with captive breeding colonies. These problems include but are not limited to — impacts of diseases introduced by individuals placed in the colony, habituation to human contact, inbreeding depression, and genetic deterioration in captivity. A big problem that arises with captive breeding programs is the sheer numbers of animals in captivity. Most facilities don’t have the resources or the space to support a larger breeding program. Also, captive breeding programs have a high cost to support and properly care for each animal so they consist of few animals that can’t sustain a proper breeding population. Another major con to captive breeding programs comes in on the animal behavior side. Even though caretakers try their very best to make captive enclosures as natural and stimulating as possible, they fall short of a wild/natural environment. So with this change in the environment comes a change in these animals' behavior. Some major changes in behavior are a decrease in predator avoidance, a decrease in foraging abilities, an increase in sleeping patterns, a decrease in overall activity, and some problems in social behaviors. Some captive species even have problems in reproduction (McAliley). It is undeniable, however, humans could do much more to preserve animal and plant species; that in turn requires that we preserve the habitats and ecosystems upon which species depend for their survival.

On the topic of zoos, it is apparent that many species are not suitable for captivity. Animals with large habitat ranges or complex social, climatic, and environmental needs suffer the most in captivity because few facilities truly have the privilege to provide for these animals accurately. These species do still need our protection against increasing environmental threats, and while zoos provide some by keeping them in captivity and raising money that goes towards conservation efforts there is another way. Zoos today see their primary purpose as breeding endangered species in captivity and reintroducing them into the wild (Wild Warfare). However digital, 4D and augmented reality opportunities are becoming a realistic option for the majority of zoos, potentially mitigating the need to hold these species in captivity while still engaging visitors. Recently, Emaar Entertainment, a subsidiary of Emaar Properties, launched an interactive attraction, bringing guests face-to-face with endangered species from around the world with a Virtual Reality experience which focuses on awareness and conservation efforts by connecting guests with endangered species in an immersive platform. What's exciting is that with VR, it is able to broaden the mind and provide guest with deep connections to the world around us. 4D technology/Virtual reality demonstrates that the future of zoos can be educational, safe, and be a more informed future for the animals and humans alike. Species showcased in 4D experiences could be lost forever in the near future without intervention. It is a possible reality that in our lifetime, some of these species may become extinct and only live in VR for future generations.

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Virtual Reality Zoos – a Good Decision fo Future. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 30, 2023, from
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