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This summer the London Zoo opened a new exhibit featuring eight human beings frolicking about dressed in nothing but mock fig leaves. According to Agence France-Presse (Aug. 24), the “Human Zoo” is intended to show visitors the basic nature of human beings. “We have set up this exhibit to highlight the spread of man as a plague species and to communicate the importance of man’s place in the planet’s ecosystem,” a statement from the London Zoo explained.
Meanwhile, in Croatia, visitors to the Zagreb Zoo can now experience what it feels like to be a caged animal and learn why humans are “the most dangerous species on the planet.” According to Zoo head Mladen Ancic, “it is an action aimed at mobilizing people against bad treatment of animals and encouraging them to protect the environment.” Entry into a cage filled with metal and plastic waste will be through a so-called path of conscience, where information panels will detail how humans contribute to the destruction of the earth.
An increasing number of middle-age women are suffering from life-threatening eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Dr. Chris Freeman, an eating-disorder specialist at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, calls this trend the “Desperate Housewives Syndrome,” after the cult American television series that depicts skinny middle-age moms living like teenyboppers. Since the show started airing in Great Britain, clinics in Scotland have reported a fourfold increase in the number of women between 30 and 50 seeking treatment from disorders normally associated with teenagers and younger women. After watching Desperate Housewives, these women, says Freeman, “think that it is possible to have this glamorous lifestyle and a great sex life if you’re skinny” (Scotsman, Aug. 24).
A public library in southern Sweden has launched the Living Library project. In an effort to “enable people to come face-to-face with their prejudices in the hopes of altering their preconceived notions,” the library allows bigots to “borrow” a human being instead of a book. “You sometimes hear people’s prejudices and you realize that they are just uninformed,” said Ulla Brohed of the Malmö Library (The Australian, Aug. 17). Nine “types” of people including a homosexual, an imam, a journalist, a Muslim woman, and a gypsy are available on weekends for members of the public to “borrow” for a 45-minute conversation in the library’s outdoor café.
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