This summer, GAIA introduces the concept of the “Futur Zoo” – a virtual reality experience that allows visitors to admire wild animals such as tigers, elephants, giraffes, and royal penguins in their natural habitats, all without causing any harm or distress to the animals.
Traditionally, GAIA’s summer tours focus on raising awareness about animal welfare in Belgium and promoting a meaningful discussion on the treatment of animals in society. Last year, GAIA’s “Taste Truck” traveled across the country, showcasing delicious and healthy food options without the need for animal products.
In contrast, this year’s “Futur Zoo” utilizes cutting-edge technology, where visitors wear 3D glasses to immerse themselves in a virtual world of wildlife. Prince Laurent, His Royal Highness, and Bernard Clerfayt, the Brussels Minister of Animal Welfare, inaugurated the Futur Zoo in a joyful event today. The virtual zoo will be open to the general public next week.
The slogan, “We prefer an animal in virtual reality to an animal in captivity,” embodies GAIA’s vision for the future of zoos. With over 10,000 zoos worldwide and millions of wild animals living in captivity, GAIA aims to address the challenges faced by traditional zoos, including limited living spaces and the mental and physical health issues experienced by many captive animals.
According to Michel Vandenbosch, President of GAIA, while some zoos make efforts to minimize the negative impact on animals, there are still inherent limitations in providing the animals with everything they need. GAIA proposes a hybrid approach that combines live animals with virtual experiences, prioritizing the well-being of the animals. By using innovative technologies, GAIA envisions a gradual process to replace animals with high welfare requirements, such as elephants and great apes, with virtual counterparts.
While the concept of the Futur Zoo challenges traditional zoos to rethink their approach, GAIA emphasizes that this new form of zoo has significant educational potential. Visitors can learn about the plight of animals in captivity and understand their true nature and behavior in their natural habitats.
GAIA’s vision does not seek confrontation with existing zoos but encourages open discussions about the possibilities offered by new technologies. The virtual possibilities of today will continue to evolve, benefiting both the animals and the zoos themselves.
This summer, GAIA invites the public to experience the Zoo of the Future and explore the innovative world of virtual wildlife.