Bangkok-based architect to build ‘human zoo’

Posted by Imogen Searra on 23 March 2020

Bill Bensley, a Bangkok-based hotel architect is protesting the destruction of the natural world in favour of commercial developments in an unusual way. Bensley was recently approached to design a resort, including a zoo, in Wuchuan, in southern China’s Guangdong province. Rather, he has switched the idea around to rather ‘cage’ humans and let the animals roam free in his new WorldWild resort.

According to CNN, Bensley has been called the ‘Willy Wonka of hotel design’. His life-long passion for conserving the natural world and reducing human impact on natural resources is translated through his work.

He designed a resort in Cambodia called Shinta Mani Wild Resort and guests arrive by sailing down a 380m zipline over the wilderness of South Cardamom National Park. As part of the activities, guests are able to partake in anti-poaching patrols with Wildlife Alliance.

In this new development, the human ‘cages’ will essentially be 2,400 hotel rooms which cost about $1-million per room to build and furnish, according to CNN. The wildlife will consist of abused animals taken from zoos all over China, which will be rehabilitated in the grounds. They will have 2,000-hectares of land to live out their days on.

Speaking to CNN Bensley said: ‘It’s very complex and it’s also very political. Right now the land is a big duck farm. It was on a migratory path for birds going from the Beijing area down to Australia, now we are reinstating the wetlands for them to fly through and fuel up.’

Bensley has hired a full-time zooologist to help make this dream a reality. The ‘overall masterplan’ reveals that the reserve will have separate Asia, Africa and Australian environments for animals to live in as close to their natural habitat as possible.

Zoologist James Morrison and Bensley’s list of species for WorldWild includes those who are in desperate need to be saved and those that have the best conservation value. Animals from roadside zoos or  rescued from illegal wildlife trade in China will be taken into the care of WorldWild. The pangolin, Earth’s most trafficked animal, is top of the list.

According to CNN, ‘Bensley is aware China is a tough place to fight for wild animals — especially with the powerful Chinese traditional medicine associations wanting to protect their multi-billion-dollar industry — but with a population of more than 1.3 billion it’s also somewhere he could have a tremendous impact.’

‘My primary reason for doing this is to educate as many Chinese as we possibly can,’ he says.


Image: Unsplash

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