by Bhob Stewart
Frederick Wiseman has often focused on individuals trapped in institutional situations not of their making, and with this 1993 film his concern broadened to include people, animals and the keepers of animals. Hundreds of species are represented by the 780 animals housed at the Miami Zoo, where they are viewed, photographed and videotaped by a constant zoo parade of visitors from all over the world. A dedicated staff cares for these creatures, recording all details of animal behavior from birth to death. The film shows the care and maintenance of the animals by their keepers, along with the work of veterinarians. Beyond the bars there are ethical issues, and the film’s other sequences span a great diversity of zoo interests and activities, examining interrelationships of the zoo’s animal, human, financial, technical, research and organizational aspects.