You read that title right folks. Big Cat Rescue is claiming that they will be unveiling the first augmented reality zoo in the world. The Tampa-based roadside zoo will be holding a free event at the Westfield Citrus Park Mall sometime in March where they will show off what they claim will be an augmented reality zoo. Knowing how low quality their real life roadside menagerie is, we won’t be holding our expectations too high.
Big Cat Rescue recently wrote an article titled "AR Zoo" in which they excitedly announced how they will be opening an augmented reality zoo in a local mall:
Within the article, Big Cat Rescue points out that the zoo industry’s method of exhibiting live animals has done little to prevent the extinction of big cats and that virtual and augmented reality technology may be key in getting the public to connect with the natural world:
Coming up with new ideas to educate the public about wildlife is good and all, but wouldn’t the aforementioned technologies only serve to further increase the divide between the general public and the natural world?
Big Cat Rescue provides a little demo showcasing the type of augmented reality technology they will be utilizing. At first glance, the technology being used seems a bit gimmicky. It's just an app that scans certain photos being displayed on your phone and replaces them with a video. The video below shows the app in use:
Maybe we’re being too harsh, but that's such an overly complicated way to watch a video. Wouldn’t a QR code make more sense to use since they can redirect to a full quality YouTube video? The video below demonstrates the simplicity of a QR code:
Big Cat Rescue isn’t just stopping there. They say they will be unveiling a unique animal encounters experience at a later date where people can live out their dream of being up close to a tiger, a computer generated one that is (emphasis added):
We find their big cat encounter experience quite odd. They claim Kevin Richardson sends the wrong message to the public when he interacts with his lions because people will want to emulate his actions even if he tells people not to. Using the same logic, doesn't that mean Big Cat Rescue’s CGI big cat experience will encourage people to participate in cub petting encounters?
Apparently this so called augmented reality zoo isn’t a one time event. Big Cat Rescue mentions how they will have 360-degree videos available on the weekends (emphasis added):
In a Facebook live-stream recorded back in 2017, Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue, said zoos could offer virtual reality experiences to do away with the practice of keeping wild animals in cages: