Zoos hold a tender place in our hearts, since they're often the first place young animal-lovers get a glimpse into the extraordinary world of wild beasts. But the reality behind the artificial habitats of captive creatures quickly sets in, and it becomes difficult to imagine that the lions, tigers and bears truly enjoy their painted paradise.
Daniel Kukla, a New York-based artist, explored this sentiment in a recent photography series titled "Captive Landscapes". The work captures the interior habitats of 12 zoos across America and Europe, highlighting the troubling constructed environments of birds and beasts alike.
Taken from the vantage point of any typical zoo-goer, the snapshots expose the sparse and often tragic conditions of zoo residents by removing the focus on the creature in the cage. “Sometimes I planned my visit when the animals would be out of the enclosure, or as a new exhibit was being installed,” Kulak told Fast Co.Design.
Kukla described the project in an e-mail to The Huffington Post:
"We, as humans, go to great lengths to satisfy our desire for a connection with the natural world, especially in our interactions with wild and exotic animals. Zoos are the primary site for this relationship, but they often obscure the conflicts inherent in maintaining and displaying captive wild animals...These images invite the viewer to question the role of these constructed habitats, and explore the motivations behind collecting, preserving, and controlling the natural world."
UPDATE: The images have been removed from our page, per the photographer's request.