Maybe it wasn’t Buzzfeed. Maybe it was just the Internet in general. Or maybe it was us, the consumers.
But somewhere along the way ZooBooks were murdered by poachers.
Like most greedy ventures this one started small. Household pets like cats and dogs were featured on every website ever created. Even CNN.com had a video category called “Just a Distraction,” consisting mostly of cat videos. Nearly every child has access to an iPad allowing them to see the final result of insane (yet extremely patient) pet owners forcing their confused pets to do something adorable while they spend embarrassingly long amounts of time trying to catch the desired act or image on their phones.
This sweeping sensation served no immediate threat to ZooBooks. The appeal of the colorful and thin magazines was not everyday animals that you could find at PetSmart. The appeal was seeing images of exotic animals that could only be found in foreign countries or remote locations or, yes, even zoos. Like the descriptions near each exhibit at the zoo, the words were rarely read in ZooBooks, people only stared at the pictures.
Little did they know, something big was lurking around the corner….something that would bring them to the brink of extinction.
No child actually knew where ZooBooks came from, they just sort of appeared.
In the late nineties, ZooBooks were so prosperous that children would have access to them without having to even seek them out.
“I’m pretty sure I never paid any money for a ZooBook,” says former child, Gerald. “But there was always a new one on that table in the living room where things sort of pile up. There was also usually one just barely sticking out from under the couch. Don’t even get me started on the dentist’s office waiting room.”
Unfortunately, ZooBooks can no longer be found in those places.
The websites became greedy. They stopped focusing on household pets. They began to realize that people could be distracted by animals all over the world. They started targeting some of the key animals featured in ZooBooks. When the Internet learned of the distracting power of sea lions and pandas it was the beginning of the end for the rainbow colored publication.
The death nail was Buzzfeed’s creation of the “Cute” button. With it came hundreds of animals doing adorable things. Buzzfeed didn’t come with accredited stamps of approval from accredited zoologists, but it was no matter. They made people say “awwhhh.”
How could ZooBooks possibly compete with this? Slowly, they began to die off, as their habitat had been ransacked by people taking breaks from quizzes to determine which Rugrats character they are.
I made it my mission to find a ZooBook and, hopefully, preserve hope that they have not all fallen extinct. Unfortunately, every magazine rack I checked was void of the randomly colored magazine. After
days of research seconds of googling, I found that ZooBooks still has a website. What I saw upon clicking the link was comprable to witnessing a family of polar bears slowly die as they watch their arctic climate melt away.
The website looked like it had not been updated since the nineties. There were very few options to click on. Yet, I did find the hope that I was looking for: Zoobies (for ages 0-3), Zootles (ages 3-6) and ZooBooks are still being sold at a subscription price of $29.95 a year.
Perhaps the most daunting result of the vicious poaching that has been going on for years is this poorly constructed video made in attempt to keep ZooBooks on the market.
Pause the video at 0:26. The face on the baby says it all. She wants panda GIF’s.
Environmentalists are still trying to save ZooBooks. Efforts have been made to reinsert them into school settings, but many children already have iPhones and ignore the magazines altogether.
“There are still ways to save them,” claims magazine rights activists Janet Moore. “If we buy these magazines for children before we expose them to Buzzfeed, then they can learn that reading about interesting things is fun and you can actually learn instead of just constantly trying to find the next thing to distract yourself for 45 seconds.”
At press time the actual number of ZooBooks in existence is unknown, but they have been classified as endangered.