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The essay “Zoos Behind the Wilderness Facade,” I originally wrote when I was studying at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. The esssay won the Gloria Barron Wilderness Essay Contest in 1997, earning $2,000.
While written as a feature, the story was too in-depth for most markets, not quite academic enough for peer-reviewed journals and thus earned also a rejection from BioScience. Fortunately the International Journal of Wilderness has a features section amidst the academic papers. It was a great relief after seven years to finally get it published. I had already written it off as my most unsuccessful writing venture, having invested so much and not published it.
The article basically presents the thesis that zoos instead of actually promoting conservation, pretend to promote it setting up a wildernes facade, behind which they are really vying for the prestige that comes with large collections and high-tech reproductive science of endangered species.
You can download the PDF version of the article.
February 17, 2010