Zooland: The Institution of Captivity takes a unique stance on a controversial topic: zoos. Zoos have their ardent supporters and their vocal detractors. And while we all have opinions on what zoos do, few people consider how they do it. Irus Braverman draws on more than seventy interviews conducted with zoo managers and administrators, as well as animal activists, to offer a glimpse into the otherwise unknown complexities of Zooland.
Zooland: The Institution of Captivity begins and ends with the story of Timmy, the oldest male gorilla in North America, to illustrate the dramatic transformations of zoos since the 1970s. Over these decades, modern zoos have transformed themselves from places created largely for entertainment to globally connected institutions that emphasize care through conservation and education.
Zoos naturalize their spaces, classify their animals, and produce spectacular experiences for their human visitors. Zoos name, register, track, and allocate their animals in global databases. Zoos both abide by and create laws and industry standards that govern their captive animals. Finally, zoos intensely govern the reproduction of captive animals, carefully calculating the life and death of these animals, deciding which of them will be sustained and which will expire. Zooland: The Institution of Captivity takes readers behind the exhibits into the world of zoo animals and their caretakers. And in so doing, it turns its gaze back on us to make surprising interconnections between our understandings of the human and the nonhuman.
Irus Braverman is Associate Professor of Law and Adjunct Professor of Geography at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. She is the author of Planted Flags: Trees, Land, and Law in Israel/Palestine (2009).
"Zoos have increasingly become an interconnected network of spaces in which animal populations can be managed and sustained despite the threats they face in the wild. This network is the 'Zooland' of the book's title, and its advocates portray it as a kind of Noah's Ark, 'containing the animals safely until the storm passes'. This is the essence of how modern zoos see themselves, one distilled by Braverman, a scholar of law and geography, in interviews with more than 70 zoo administrators and activists from both sides. Zooland is an insightful catalogue of zoos' claims and contradictions."
- Stephen Cave, Financial Times
"[Braverman's] accounts of record keeping, a fairly new practice, and the laws regulating the keeping of zoo animals as well as the complexity of deciding which animals will be allowed to reproduce, will be eye opening for most readers."
- Nancy Bent, Booklist
"This is an essential field guide to 'Zooland': what people do there, how they think, what they think they're doing – and what they might really be doing despite whatever they think. Offering a very close study of human-animal relationships under specific institutional and ideological conditions, Irus Braverman has written a great book about zoos, maybe the best ever."
- David Delaney, Amherst College, author of Law and Nature and Territory: A Short Introduction
"Beautifully written, finely researched, astutely argued, Zooland offers a wealth of stories, data, and views to understand the potent work of zoos and their life-propagating messiness, astonishing technologies, and detailed ordering of their captive subjects deemed wild."
- Donna Haraway, University of California at Santa Cruz, author of When Species Meet
"Deeply engaging and highly creative, Zooland brings us into a place of manufactured ecologies and microprocessed beings. Braverman offers important insights into the deeply folded architectures of human-animal relations and the complex, multidimensional spaces of the zoo."
-Jody Emel, Clark University, editor of Animal Geographies
"Brave and important, this new work puts the governance of animals at the heart of the debates about governance more broadly. Zooland opens up our understandings of social and spatial management, surveillance, classification and control, helping us understand the impact of such human social processes on nonhumans."
- David Murakami Wood, Queen's University, Canada, author of Globalization and Surveillance: The Watched World
"Zoos have undergone dramatic transformations in recent decades, and their fundamental purpose and value – to animals and human visitors alike – remain hotly debated. With Zooland Braverman enters the fray, giving voice to the various sides while providing her own informed, thoughtful stance. Arguing for a 'power of care,' Braverman moves us toward the possibility of zoos that combine concern for individual welfare and the conservation of species."
- Ken Shapiro, Executive Director, Animals and Society Institute