Zoos are meant for animal lovers, and yet many people who love animals don’t love zoos. While it’s fascinating to see tigers and polar bears up close, it’s arguably inhumane to ship creatures thousands of miles only to put them in cages.
So what’s to be done about zoos? In Denmark, which prides itself for its humanity in all things, the answer is this futuristic concept, aptly named Zootopia. Conceived by the Copenhagen-based BIG agency for a planned expansion of the Givskud zoo in Jutland, it’s a vision for a park where animals are free to roam and people are as inconspicuous as possible.
“It is our dream–with Givskud–to create the best possible and freest possible environment for the animals’ lives and relationships with each other and visitors,” BIG says in a press release.
In their design, the park is separated into three zones for Africa, Asia, and America. There are savannas, forests, and rivers, and a central sunken courtyard for visitors where amenities like ticket desks and toilets are hidden from view. The accommodation for the animals is made of natural materials, like piles of lumber for the bear enclosure.
One of the central concepts is not to distract the animals with the presence of humans. Mirrored cable cars and boats, which reflect back the surroundings rather than showing who is inside, accomplish this trick.
The first phase of the project is due for completion in 2019, Givskud’s 50th anniversary. It may not be enough to persuade zoo-critics of the fundamental merits. But, if you’re going shut animals in a foreign environment for human entertainment, this is about as good as it gets.