Ensuring a good welfare for animals housed in zoos, is not an easy job. It might not even be something we will ever really get a perfect grip on. Animal species have evolved over many years and their physical, physiological, social and behavioural traits have been developed in order for them to survive as best as they can in their natural environment. In captivity, animals may face a number of challenges which evolution has not prepared them for - even when bred in a zoo. This can be climate, diet, the size and characteristics of their enclosure or the fact that they have to rely on humans for their every need.
The artificial environment of a zoo can sometimes lead to an animal feeling bored, frustrated and stressed. Due to this, they develop a stereotypic behaviour that becomes compulsive and unnatural.
Bill Travers, defined these kinds of obsessive, repetitive behaviours in the term 'Zoochosis' as in zoo animals becoming zoochotic when being held in captivity.
I believe, that the display of abnormal behaviour patterns are not recognised enough by the public eye. That is why I decided to make this documentary to educate you about what lies behind these stereotypic behaviours which we can easily identify, but might not give a further thought about when visiting the zoo.
The most common stereotypic behaviours are swaying, repeated pacing back and forward and self mutilation.
The essential core for my research is interviewing professionals that can share their knowledge and experience about abnormal animal behaviors, and zookeepers who can teach us about enriching animals in zoos. These interviews will carry the narrative of the documentary . Below is a brainstorm sheet, that shows who I will interview and what I intend to investigate.
With my documentary I am trying to express an open mind and I simply want to understand anything and everything, and show a true passion for the animals irrespective of any captive constraint or impact. There is obviously two sides to every story, and showing both sides is what makes a good documentary and I intend to do that.
For more research plans and progress please check out my project blog here!
Making a documentary is tricky without the right footage and information. This is where you come in. First of all, you could donate some money, whether it's £1 or £50 every little helps, and I would appreciate any contribution towards this project. Your contribution will go towards:
Public transport - The people I need to get to are located in all different places around England, and even with a student discount, transport is quite expensive.
Interviews to access vital information - When interviewing big organisations like London Zoo, a nearly finished university degree is not just enough to access information from their zookeepers. If I don't get accepted through their educational program I will have to get my interview through their press office which will cost me over £400. I will need an insight from the Zoo's side of things, otherwise the documentary will simply not work - so with your help, I can get me a broader and more completed narrative.
Copyrighted material use - I will need footage from both animals in the wild and animals in zoos. A trip to Africa or the Antarctic to get some wildlife footage would be amazing. However that is unfortunately not in my cards. So I will have to use footage others have taken of animals in their natural habitat. With the strict rules of Copyrights, this kind of material is not free to use, so your contribution will also go to cover the costs of this process.
Entry for zoos - I am investigating and filming the captive animals by my self. To do this I will need to visit different zoos around the UK several times. Entry fees are usually between £20 and £30.
A website host - To keep the rights to my own material I will need a website host that offers me that. The price for these vary, however with BlueHost, I cant get a 12 month offer for $5,99 p.m. which is about £44 for a year.
The money you donate will not go to waste. It will open new essential possibilities that will take my documentary to broader level of expertise, and most importantly, voice the animals - and this will be the sole direction your money will be travelling in.
I understand that perhaps it may not be possible for you to donate but you may still be happy to help me out which is perfectly fine. You can do this by sharing my project video and Kickstarter link to anybody you know that may be interested! Also liking and sharing the Facebook and Twitter page will also help me spread out my project further.
Music courtesy of Sweet Wave Audio www.sweetwaveaudio.co.uk 'Summer Indie Rock'
Image courtesy of Steve Simkins @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevesimkins/
Risks and challenges
There are always challenges when making a documentary. First of all, there is the technology and the magic of files, footage, material etc. suddenly disappearing. I have taken caution to this, and have all my things stored at in two different places (computer and hardrive). Backing up is vital! Secondly, I cannot guarantee that I will get the interviews I'm aiming for, as the other part will need to accept an interview invitation.