A few weeks ago I was one of the drivers / chaperones for my 10yo daughter’s field trip to the Denver Zoo and we had a great time, as we always do. It’s a nice zoo and for every enclose that’s small and vaguely depressing, there are 2-3 that are beautiful and spacious. As time and budget permits, the zoo continues to grow and update enclosures so that the animals have ever better enclosures.
As we walked around, I kept thinking about the fun we’d had exploring the virtual online safari world Animal Jam — see my writeup Animal Jam: A Virtual World from National Geographic Kids — and wondering if there was a way to tie Animal Jam and the Denver Zoo together.
So I asked the marketing team at Animal Jam (they’re actually Smart Bomb Interactive, a name that works really well as long as they aren’t promoting airlines and airport security systems, I expect!) and they said “kinda”. There’s a lot of great information on lots of different animals in Animal Jam, but the challenge is that it’s a constantly changing virtual world so while a video about a Malayan Tapir might be available today, in a month it might have been cycled out, temporarily replaced by a Kangaroo Rat or similar.
With that in mind, here’s a quick list of a few of the animals that are at the Denver Zoo and also show up in Animal Jam. This includes a bunch of links to National Geographic Kids-produced YouTube videos that are also available within the Animal Jam universe too.
There is, of course, quite a bit more information available in Animal Jam, and lots more to explore at the Zoo itself, but this was fun nonetheless..
African Wild Dogs
Lots of information on the various species of wolves, but that’s no surprise. Kids — and adults! — are quite intrigued by wolves and their relationship to common domesticated dogs:
It makes me wonder whether in a few years we’ll start to see the rise of 3D virtual zoos where our children will be able to “walk around” and not just see the animals but perhaps even interact with them, either modeled directly after a physical zoo like the Denver Zoo, or as its own world entirely. Sounds cool, actually, and a great way to learn about even the rarest — or already extinct — animals without the expense and complexity of an actual zoo.
In any case, since my daughter’s learned that one of her buddies is a big fan of Animal Jam, we might well be seeing more of this virtual world popping up on our computer screens in the near future anyway. And if there’s an educational component? That’s just so much the better.