What is a “zoopolis”?

Apparently, Zoopolis is now the name of a book on animal rights and political theory. But that is not what this blog is about.

The name came from one of Richard Louv’s books on the disconnection between people and the rest of nature in modern civilization; he argues that we need to incorporate nature into our most urban areas, a city idea he calls the zoopolis.

I’d argue that we already live in cities inextricably bound into nature in every way. Since we are animals, and everything we build comes from materials that first derived from nature, there is nothing in our cities that is not already natural. It’s our skewed thinking, that impossibly positions cities as outside of nature, and makes us think that whatever we do in our cities is somehow insulated from affecting nature.

There is a lot we can do to integrate non-human nature into our cities in a way that is more beneficial for the plants and animals who also live here, and for the humans who have made these places their home. But nature is already in the city–we already have a zoopolis, by accident if not by design–and if we and non-human nature are to thrive in the future, we need to relearn how to see ourselves as a part of the rest of the world, and bring the rest of that world back into our habitats in a conscious way.

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