Zoo – Could it Really Happen?

Zoo – Could it Happen?

A television adaptation of James Patterson’s novel Zoo is currently creating a stir in the animal community. Mostly just in the humans, as other animals see television for what it really is. I like James Patterson’s books and of course love animals so this was an easy read for me. Light, scary, entertaining and a bit thought provoking. Reports are that the TV version will depart from the book and develop its own plot points and resolution. That often is not a good sign. At least I’m sure there will be plenty of pretty animals gracing our screens.

I don’t think discussing the plot will be a spoiler as who knows where the show will lead. The book centers on an affliction, somewhat goofily called HAC – Human Animal Conflict. Something starts affecting animals around the world causing them to attack humans but interestingly not other animals.  Scientists, the government and even the military race to find a reason for these attacks. Several vain attempts to stop them take place. It turns out the animals have been affected by compounds that are created by specific aspects of human society. By changing the way we live we can stop the attacks.

The story is an interesting allegory which demonstrates how all life on this planet is inter-linked on a global level to an increasingly large degree.  Could such a situation really occur?  The book presents very fast changes in the environment as a result of human action. In reality our actions may bring about change at a much slower rate. It’s more likely that some infectious agent could easily circle the globe and cause wide spread behavioral changes.

One of these agents already exists. Rabies is a contagious virus which affects animals’ nervous systems and causes them to attack other animals and people in order to spread the disease. 50,000  people around the world die from rabies every year. Many of these after animal bites. Now that’s already a scary story.

Dog bites are a significant issue in emergency rooms around the U.S. Over 400,000 people are treated every year. These aren’t even due to some strange environmental issue or virus. It’s the nature of some of our dogs and the way they are trained or mistrained. Now that’s already a scary story.

The important issue to remember as you watch ZOO is that all of our actions can have implications. We are taught to act locally but think globally. This story points out just what can happen when we fail to take action on that.  Enjoy the show. Let me know if by week 5 you’re sitting just a little bit further away from that dog or cat on your couch. I probably will be.

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  • Blog Author

    Dr. James Zgoda

    Education: University of Pennsylvania, B.A. Animal Behavior 1980 Rutgers Univ., M.S. Zoology 1981 Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, D.V.M., 1985 Owner and chief veterinarian of Otterkill Animal Hospital in Campbell Hall, NY ... Read Full
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