Broadcast on Radio Eye, ABC Radio National Saturday 23 October 2004
Produced and written by Virginia Madsen, Sound engineer John Jacobs. The Menagerie of the Jardins des Plants in the heart of Paris is the oldest zoo in Europe. The contemporary zoo seeks to create the illusion of a natural environment, in which the spectator might imagine the captive animals somehow "at home". Yet the Paris Menagerie still retains the self-conscious artifice of an earlier era. The animals are framed by their enclosures much as paintings in a galley. At first the Menagerie seems archaic, a kind of prison. But perhaps the sadness of the animals is more a projection of a sense of loss felt by the spectator - the loss of our own wildness, our own sense of being part of the natural world.