In this context Zoo is short for:
1. Affection or affinity for animals.
2. Erotic attraction to or sexual contact with animals.
zo'o·phile' (-fīl') n., zo'o·phil'ic (zō'ə-fĭl'ĭk) adj.
Back in the summer of 2005 I was living in Salford, 'the armpit of the north west'. I had just completed the second year of my three year degree and was totally broke. I really had no links or connections in any good places, so I answered a job ad posted on a university notice board. For 3 months that summer I worked in this warehouse, simple work just 'picking and packing' of clothes in a distribution warehouse. It was mind numbing stuff but what made it an experience were the people. There was a mix of two types of people. The Eastern European crowd, mostly highly educated with masters degrees and doctorates but found that they could earn more money in a warehouse in Salford than they could as a surgeon in Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania or wherever. Such injustice. The rest of the crowd were local and quite frankly what I would call 'rough as fuck'. Vile, violent, simple creatures all with some sort of criminal record. I kept tight lipped and to myself, I listened to Doolittle on repeat for weeks on end and broke up the days by reading the disgusting personal attacks scribbled on the toilet walls. They were painted over every three days and reappeared as quickly as they were covered. The paint must've been half an inch thick in that place. One day one guy got the sack for 'Chasing the dragon' casually during a shift. Occasionally others would get collected by the police and never seen again. They called me 'college boy' because I had read a book once. It felt like a prison. The reason I am mentioning this is this. Pretty much everyday these warehouse monkeys would have something new on their mobile phones. It was a morning ritual that a phone would be passed around with something for everyone to see, it was fascinating. Britneys minge. Paris Hilton at work. A video of a high speed collision, friendly fire incidents at war, suicide bombings, even those terrible clips of beheadings of US prisoners in Iraq. There was no shame, no sensitivity, all treated as entertainment. One particular day I remember being shown this clip. It was dark but clearly of a horse mounting a man and 'having his way'. This clip was always shown with the comment "that guy died from that". I could believe it, it looked brutal and gave me the shivers but the fact I had never heard about such an incident made me doubt it and I wrote it off as a hoax or an urban myth. And that is the story of how I came to watch Zoo.
Zoo is the true story of Kenneth Pinyon, the Seattle man in question who in 2005 "died of acute peritonitis due to perforation of the colon" after a not so romantic tumble in the hay. This documentary is certainly on shaky ground and it's superbly handled.
Initially, it's a pure fascination piece but what we actually have here is quite an achievement. It dodges any exploitative pitfalls and instead is presented so well that it's mood lingers long in the memory. The story is told as a series of dark and disturbing scene reconstructions cloaked with actual audio interviews of the other people involved in this 'Zoo ring'. The resultant film is both controversial and provocative aswell as experimental within it's genre. It is inciteful and spooky and just a thoroughly surprising find. It won awards at Sundance in 2007 and subsequently went to Cannes. If all this isn't enough to pique your interest then Paul Blart: Mall cop is out now. Bye.