PROJECT: Are Homo sapiens an ‘endangered species’? 

Satire implies ridicule. In art, satire can be expressed through a wide variety of mediums. Found objects (Ant Farm), drawing (Beehive), interactive installations (Gelitin), connecting plants, fish, and electronics (Gracie); online aps (Mandiberg); performing extravagant effort (Starling).

READ: TO LIFE! Chapters featuring any three artists mentioned above.

PROJECT: Are Homo sapiens an ‘endangered species’? The following is an amusing news story that predicts this un-amusing fate for humans: “At the London Zoo, visitors can talk to the animals – and now some of them talk back. Caged and barely clothed in a rocky enclosure, eight British men and women were on display beginning Friday behind a sign reading “Warning: Humans in the Natural Environment”. The inhabitants of the Human Zoo exhibition sunned themselves on a rock ledge, wearing fig leaves – pinned to bathing suits. Some played with hula hoops, some waved. A signed informed visitors about the species’ diet, habitat, worldwide distribution and the threats to its survival.” 7

In fact, on May 21, 2012 The Automatic Earth Community delivered a Petition for Listing of the Homo sapiens species as an Endangered Species Pursuant to Federal Regulation of the Endangered Species Act [50 CFR 424.14(b)] stating that, “Upwards of 50% of this species’ range has come under the threat of near-term (within the next 50 years) extinction due to economic growth (and it’s natural collapse), untempered development, severe resource mis-allocation, air/water pollution, ecosystem degradation, energy scarcity, climate change, potential nuclear war and a variety of inter-related factors.”8

The zoo episode provides an opportunity to satirize common values and behaviors within industrialized nations that endanger humanity’s ability to survive. As a spoof, imagine you are hired by the zoo to write and illustrate a set of labels providing information on the current behaviors of Homo sapiens inhabiting some region of North America. For example, you might satirize:

  • diet (carnivorous, omnivorous, vegetarian)
  • dwelling
  • means of locomotion
  • communal or solitary
  • settled or nomadic
  • reproduction and child-rearing
  • nocturnal or diurnal
  • temperament (aggressive or passive)
  • forms of self-defense
  • domesticated or wild
  • forms of recreation

DISCUSSION: What changes in diet or shelter or toys would you introduce to their zoo existence to ensure the long term survival of the human species?

7 At London Zoo, Homo Sapiens Is Just Another Primate Species, The New York Times, London , August 27, 2005.