Polar Bear Simulacra

The St. Louis Zoo is putting electronic proxy bears in their exhibit now that their live bears have passed away.

One of my favorite colleagues, Martin Krieger, discussed the idea of simulated nature in piece he published in Science in 1973. He talks, however, about rare natural environments, not zoo environments–the latter being inherently constructed. In a short, concise piece, he develops this notion of “proxy” nature.

It all brings up the question: what is the role of the zoo in the sustainable city? Is there one? Are they destined to become Disneyland natura?

Krieger, M. 1973. “What’s wrong with plastic trees: rationals for preserving rare natural environments involve economic, societal, and political factors.” Science. 179 (4072): 446-455.

Luke, T.  2002. Museum Pieces: Power Plays at the Exhibition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 298 pp.