Created By: BlackbirdMizu on October 31, 2011 Last Edited By: Tambov333 on August 5, 2016

Crapsack Zoo

When zoos in fiction are portrayed to be in surprisingly poor conditions

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In works of fiction, it's common for zoos to be portrayed as hellholes. The animals are poorly treated, living in tiny, cramped, and sometimes dark cages as opposed to many modern zoos that give animals large, roomy enclosures made to resemble their natural habitat. Often a character will comment on the poor conditions of the zoo, and sometimes it becomes a plot point.

May sometimes be Truth in Television, though it depends on the time and era. Modern zoos in many countries tend to avert this heavily, thanks to regulations and concerns for animal welfare. The US, Canada, and European countries have strict regulations on exhibits and must meet certain standards. However, this trope is played straight in countries and areas with few regulations.

Video Games
  • Working with the Video Game Cruelty Potential, this can easily be done in the Zoo Tycoon games. There are also several challenge mode games that involve fixing up zoos that keep the animals in these conditions.

Western Animation
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang visits a zoo where the animals live in tiny, cramped exhibits. This is done less out of lack of concern for the animals' welfare and more out of the fact that the government wouldn't give the zoo any more money to improve conditions because kids weren't visiting the zoo. (because the zoo wasn't very good in the first place) Aang uses earthbending to create large, roomy enclosures outside the town's walls, enabling the animals to live comfortably.
  • In an episode of The Replacements, Riley is concerned about the welfare of animals living in a zoo. Fitting in with this trope, the animals live in tiny, cramped concrete cages with steel bars. Initially she blames the grumpy zookeeper and has him replaced with a crazy animal rights activist who releases all the animals. Naturally this turns out to be a bad idea, and Riley soon learns that the conditions weren't the zookeeper's fault: the owner of the zoo, a rich Corrupt Corporate Executive, didn't bother having conditions improved because he wanted to keep the money for himself. Eventually they threaten him into converting his golf course into a nice, roomy zoo for the animals.

Real Life
  • Sadly Truth in Television from time to time, though it mostly occurs in countries with few or no regulations, or those which have been wracked by war (c.f. the Berlin and Baghdad Zoos).
Community Feedback Replies: 22
  • October 31, 2011
    Stratadrake
    If Pounds Are Animal Prisons, zoos are animal concentration camps.
  • October 31, 2011
    AmbarSonofDeshar
    It's an abandoned zoo, but the one in Batman Returns looks like it wasn't much fun even before it was closed. Creepy looking place.
  • November 3, 2011
    surgoshan
    • Discussed in the Dragnet film, after Joe talks about how good the animals have it at the zoo.
      Pep: Really? Do you think that before these guys were drugged, roped, crated, and shipped across the ocean that they were jockeying for position saying "Pick me! Pick me! I wanna live on damp cement!"?
  • November 3, 2011
    Ryuuma
    Happens in a The Simpsons episode once.
  • November 3, 2011
    fulltimeD
    • The Zoo from The X Files episode "Fearful Symmetry" was explicitly stated to have been one of these in the recent past before the episode, to the point where they actually hired new management along with a scientific adviser to reform the zoo. Also notable in that the (fictional) zoo in question had never once had a live birth of any animal in captivity, ever. The animals are regularly abducted by aliens and made the subject of strange experiments, including the theft of their unborn children.
  • November 3, 2011
    szaleniec1000
    A bit in the first episode of Brass Eye concerned an East German[[hottip:*:in 1997, mind you]] zoo that was so bad that an elephant stuck its trunk up its own arse to escape. Of course it was all fake.
  • November 5, 2011
    HiddenFacedMatt
    Page quote suggestion:
    Calvin: Mom wants to know if we'd like to go to the zoo today.
    Hobbes: Can we tour a prison afterwards?
  • November 5, 2011
    Maxaxle
    Real Life, circa anytime-before-the-1970s. That is all. Yes, I expect replies of You Fail History Forever.
  • November 6, 2011
    TechUnadept
    Team Fortress 2's Meet the Soldier ad "Sun tsu wrote the book on war. And when he was finished, he collected two of every animal, and he beat the crap out of them! And from that day forward, whenever there's a large collection of animals, it's called... a Zoo! Unless it's a farm."
  • November 6, 2011
    Statalyzer
    Should just be a subtrope of Pounds Are Animal Prisons. Otherwise it's just Animals Sit On Chairs
  • November 6, 2011
    Statalyzer
    Should just be a subtrope of Pounds Are Animal Prisons. Otherwise it's just Animals Sit On Chairs
  • November 6, 2011
    fulltimeD
    More like a sister trope than a subtrope, right?
  • November 6, 2011
    Psi001
    • Utilized at least once in The Simpsons.
      "I dare ya to look at a kangaroo and not laugh."
      *walks past kangaroos looking out cage, slumped and miserable*
      "Well...they're usually funnier...
  • November 6, 2011
    JRoch
    Horton the Elephant?
  • November 7, 2011
    ladyofprocrastination
    Didn't Steve Irwin sometimes rescue crocodiles from these? It's been a very long time since I watched his show as a kid, but I'm sure I remember seeing him remove a crocodile from a horrible concrete pit in the ground.
  • November 7, 2011
    Stratadrake
    ^ Was it explicitly from a zoo?

    @Statalyzer: You're misusing PSOC, stop that.
  • November 7, 2011
    ladyofprocrastination
    I can't remember. That's why I asked. I think so, though.
  • November 7, 2011
    SharleeD
    ^^^ I think it was a display area near an East Timorese temple or community center, not a zoo. Certainly it was the only animal-exhibit there, so it may not qualify as a "zoo" unless single displays count ... in which case, that guy on Return to Chimp Eden does a lot more rescues from such places than Irwin did.

  • August 5, 2016
    DAN004
    Bump
  • August 5, 2016
    eroock
    How does this one differ from Boo To The Zoo?
  • August 5, 2016
    Bk-notburgerking
    This trope is often used by Animal Wrongs Group to ban zoos, even those that avert this trope.
  • August 5, 2016
    Snicka
    ^^ It's the same, but older. The two should be merged.
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