Directed by Robinson Devor. USA. 2007.
While few object to depriving
animals of their freedom in zoos or sending them to slaughterhouses to
be ground up for hamburgers, the thought of men having sex with animals
stirs up reservoirs of righteous indignation and the incident became fodder
for the media and Internet message boards which approached it with typical
scorn and ridicule. Devor uses a combination of audio interviews with actual
participants and reenactments from actor stand-ins to attempt to shed some
light on what actually happened. The film delivers neither judgment of
the practice nor evaluation of the psychology behind it but simply raises
the question whether zoophilia is simply another form of sexual orientation
or whether it constitutes abuse of a being incapable of giving consent.
Shot in muted colours,
Zoo has a lyrical and poetic style with a moving sound track that gives
the film an air of something forbidden but also something eerily beautiful.
Bringing a taboo subject out of the darkness and subjecting it to some
light, the film allows us to reexamine our preconceived notions about a
practice that has in fact been going on since Ancient Greece. Opening with
an interview with Coyote, a coalminer from Virginia who came to Washington
to meet like minded friends, the film examines the phenomenon of the "zoophile"
community, a group of isolated individuals where such appetites are shared.
The men gather at all night parties, talk about their love for animals,
and engage in an activity they consider natural but which the rest of the
world frowns upon. After he was identified as a participant, one man asks
how he could be a good man yesterday and a bad man today but the question
We hear the voices of
some of the members of the group but only Jenny Edwards of the organization
“Hope for Horses” speaks directly to the camera. While the thrust of her
remarks are humane, her participation in a dramatization of the gelding
of the horse involved is disturbing and is certainly done without the horses
consent. Zoo neither endorses sex with animals nor condemns it but simply
empathizes with the humanity of the participants who, for one reason or
another, prefer anonymous sex as Richard Gere put it in Pretty Woman, “without
all the emotional hassles” of relationships. By doing so, the issue is
removed from the level of abstraction and the death is made heartbreakingly
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