Could virtual zoos be the way of the future? We definitely hope so! A recent announcement from the Landmark Entertainment Group suggests that a virtual reality experience of animals in the “wild” could be coming to the theme park world much sooner than most observers expected. Landmark is the themed design company behind Universal Studios attractions like Terminator 2 3D and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man 5D. Their latest innovation is the Landmark Interactive Virtual Experience (L.I.V.E) Centre, which is set to open in China in 2018 and will include virtual zoos, virtual aquariums, digital art galleries, interactive museums, immersive movies and more…no live animals included! 

As this technology grows and becomes more mainstream and accessible to the public, it certainly has the potential to eliminate the demand for live animals on display and in captivity in zoo enclosures. Especially when you consider that animals in a virtual reality setting could be shown engaging in interesting activities like hunting or playing rather than being forced to live inside a small enclosure. 

Tony Christopher, CEO and founder of Landmark Entertainment Group, explained his company’s vision in an article in Fortune magazine last month, “With virtual reality we can put you in the African savannah or fly you into outer space,” Christopher says. “This completely changes the idea of an old-fashioned museum by allowing kids to experience prehistoric dinosaurs or legendary creatures as we develop new experiences that keep them coming back for more. We’ll combine education and entertainment into one destination that’s always evolving.”

We do believe, however, that a majority of the funds that are gained by attendance at virtual zoos should directly benefit the conservation of animals in the wild. Virtual zoos should be considered a step forward in conservation of live animals, not exist as a substitute or an alternative to endangered animals living in the wild. 

Recently, we also took a look at the potential CGI technology has in terms of ending the business of animal entertainment industry in movies and television in this article from our magazine, Action Line. While not only being a game changer for the entertainment industry, we hope that technology like CGI and other forms of augmented reality also lend to the possibility of being a life changer for animals everywhere.