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A Wilder Kingdom Rethinking Nature in Zoos, Wildlife Parks, and Beyond

By: Ben A Minteer(Editor), Harry W Greene(Editor)
240 pages, 25 illustrations
A Wilder Kingdom
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  • A Wilder Kingdom ISBN: 9780231201537 Paperback Oct 2023 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
  • A Wilder Kingdom ISBN: 9780231201520 Hardback Oct 2023 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
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About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Zoos have always had a troubled relationship to what is considered the "real" wild. Even the most immersive and naturalistic zoos, critics maintain, are inherently contrived and inauthentic environments. Zoo animals' diet, care, and reproduction are under pervasive human control, with natural phenomena like disease and death kept mostly hidden from public view. Furthermore, despite their growing commitment to conservation and education, zoos are entertainment providers that respond to visitors' expectations and preferences. What would a "wilder" zoo – one that shows the public a wider range of ecological processes – look like? Is it achievable or even desirable? What roles can or should zoos play in encouraging humanity to find meaningful connections with wild animals and places?

A Wilder Kingdom is a provocative and reflective examination of the relationship between zoos and the wild. It gathers a premier set of multidisciplinary voices-from animal studies and psychology to evolutionary biology and environmental journalism-to consider the possibilities and challenges of making zoos wilder. In so doing, the contributors offer new insights into the future of the wild beyond zoos and our relationship to wild species and places across the landscape in an increasingly human-dominated era.


1. Zoos and the Wild: A Reconsideration, by Ben A. Minteer and Harry W. Greene
2. Between Worlds: A Conversation Among the Cranes, by Curt Meine
3. Animal Art and the Changing Meanings of the Wild, by Alison Hawthorne Deming
4. Can Zoos Connect People with Wildness?, by Susan Clayton
5. "Wild" Through an American Indian Historical Analysis, by Kelsey Dayle John and Reva Mariah ShieldChief
6. Toward a Wilder Kin-Dom: Why Zoos Must Focus More on Ecological Interactions (with Our Children and Other Biota) Than on Isolated Species, by Gary Paul Nabhan
7. This Is a Zoo? Reflections on a Wilder Zoo by Visitors to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, by Debra Colodner, Craig Ivanyi, and Cassandra Lyon
8. Evolution to the Rescue: Natural Selection Can Help Captive Populations Adapt to a Changing World, by Jonathan B. Losos
9. Zoo Dogs, by Clive D. L. Wynne and Holly G. Molinaro
10. Zoo Time, by Nigel Rothfels
11. The Microbial Zoo: How Small Is Wild?, by Irus Braverman
12. A Home for the Wild: Architecture in the Zoo, by Natascha Meuser
13. Reconnecting Zoos to the Wild and Rethinking Dignity in Animal Conservation, by Joseph R. Mendelson III
14. Seeing the Wild in Zoos by Seeing the Humans Too, by Amanda Stronza
15. The Once and Future Rhino, by Michelle Nijhuis
Postscript: On Wildness and Responsibility, by Ben A. Minteer and Harry W. Greene

List of Contributors

Customer Reviews


Ben A. Minteer is a professor of environmental ethics and conservation in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. His many books include Wild Visions: Wilderness as Image and Idea (2022); The Fall of the Wild: Extinction, De-Extinction, and the Ethics of Conservation (Columbia, 2018); and The Ark and Beyond: The Evolution of Zoo and Aquarium Conservation (2018).

Harry W. Greene is an emeritus professor at Cornell University and an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the author of Snakes: The Evolution of Mystery in Nature (1997) and Tracks and Shadows: Field Biology as Art (2013).

By: Ben A Minteer(Editor), Harry W Greene(Editor)
240 pages, 25 illustrations
Media reviews

"This remarkable collection of essays addresses the shifting and conflicted missions of zoos in the modern world. The central theme of the chapters is the possibility of enhancing the experience of wildness for zoo animals and visitors. Along the way, the authors address a host of fascinating questions. For example, what would a wilder zoo look like? Is a baby rhino who was conceived via in vitro fertilization a wild animal? Can zoos prepare animals for life in the wild? This book changed the way I think about zoos, and I suspect it will pave the way for the zoos of the future."
– Hal Herzog, author of Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard To Think Straight About Animals

"A Wilder Kingdom is a thought-provoking, informative, and enjoyable read. The well-crafted essays, written by authors with a wide range of perspectives, backgrounds, and expertise, will appeal to anyone interested in nature, animal welfare, zoos, wild landscapes, and the human interactions with all of these."
– Marty Crump, coauthor of Women in Field Biology: A Journey into Nature

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