Hey there. Tarro here. Today I want to talk about something I've been seeing a lot of talk about in the zoosexual community recently. Progress. Because as we grow, and as the world is forced to face us, for better or worse, there's going to be a lot of change. For some people, they see this change as a good thing. Something hopeful to be excited about. For others however, they're less sure. Change isn't always in a positive direction. Especially for people who have already seen change they don't like. 
The zoo community has been around for a long time. Much longer than probably anyone reading this has been around. I have friends who are zoos who have been socializing, networking, and making friends with other zoos for decades at this point. And that process looked very different then than it does today, but it was still a person's own community, a person's social group. For a long time, zoos were more like cells than they were one all lumped together group. Someone knows someone, they know someone else, and every now and then they invite people together to meet up and hang out. There might be a bit of crossover, but the total web as a whole was a lot more like a bunch of local bubbles. And for a lot of people, that was a good thing. And, those kinds of bubbles do still exist, but we've seen a real rise of seeing "the zoo community" as one big group too, with the rise in zoo visibility on social media. 
I have heard stories from people about how for a long time, for them, being a "zoo" wasn't a thing as much as it is now. You could like animals, you could date animals, even have one as a life partner, but that was just part of your existence, free from any labels. Labels are heavy things, and they come with a lot of baggage that you might not always want. If you just so happened to really really like your dog, you were just you and also you liked a dog. There was simplicity in that. It wasn't complicated, nor did you have to really worry about anything past that. Obviously you still had to be careful, there's always been people that didn't approve of human animal relationships. But at the same time, most people didn't care. So long as you weren't going around screaming your head off about it, it was rarely going to land you in any hot water. Nor was there really any guilt by association. The idea that you might like to smooch your dog was so inconsequential to most people that it was almost invisible. It was hard to comprehend why they should care. Because the "zoo community" didn't exist, nobody was judging you by the actions of other people, but rather, they were judging you by whether they saw that you yourself seemed to be a good or a bad person in light of the dog smooching.
It's hard to say what every animal-dating person's experience was like. Some definitely did have a lot of anxiety about it, while others had this carefree experience. Some faced consequences for being intimate with animals, from angry parents or baffled religious institutions, while others could be pretty open with all of their friends and family and prospective human partners, and not see anyone in their life make a big deal about it. But, as we enter into a very online world where somebody can start having these feelings and then immediately google what label to put on them and what the world thinks of that label, Being a zoo now means more than that you like animals. Being a zoo also includes probably hearing from the jump that people aren't going to take kindly to you. 
And this is a really big change that older zoos have had to witness today's zoo youth going through. Let's make the queer comparison here. Say that you're a trans person. What that literally means is that your gender doesn't fit the sex that your body happens to have. But when you picture a trans person, even if you yourself reading this are trans, there's a few more traits that you probably associate with the label. They're probably someone who's very left leaning politically. They're more likely younger than older. They're probably not somebody you'd assume is into guns or hunting or the military. They're probably a big fan of Fallout: New Vegas. None of those things are integral to the trans experience at the end of the day, but it's the label. So if you're a trans person that prefers Fallout 2, loves shooting deer, and is really excited to vote Trump, you probably feel alienated by the trans label, even if you also are the wrong gender for your sex. 
Similarly, there are zoos out there who feel burdened by the label of being a "zoo." Zoos tend to be more likely to be vegan, so if you're a zoo that really loves meat and hates vegans that's a pain point for you. So if you feel like zoos are constantly pushing the vegan message, that's likely going to make you feel less positive about using the term to describe yourself. Same with a host of any other kinds of divisive issues that you might find yourself at a challenging place with as far as being on the "wrong" side of the community. 
When there were 3 or 4 zoos in your little circle, if you had a few differences amongst each other, that was something you'd probably overlook just for the sake of the stronger connection of all being zoos, all being friends who have a very full picture of each other as individuals. Or you would seek out a different group of friends, if it really wasn't going to work. But now, there's a community that includes every last zoo and the horse they rode in on. This big, constantly growing thing. And if you're a zoo who has a few politically incorrect opinions that don't match with the norm, suddenly it can feel like the ENTIRE zoo community is a place that you no longer belong in. You might still have an animal partner, but the community has gentrified, so to speak, and suddenly the world has moved around you to the point that you no longer fit in, even though you've never really moved.
There also wasn't as much of a push towards activism back then as there currently is. That's not to say that there wasn't any, but it definitely wasn't as visible and tangible as it currently is. Today we have a lot of tools that allow us to be able to present our side of the story to the public that zoos back then didn't have. We can have podcasts, magazines, art, media presence, all anonymously from the comfort of our own homes. There were pushes in waves that would start, grow, and crest, but what we have today is definitely the biggest push there has ever been. 
As the furry community began to take off (there were zoos in there from the very start), lots of zoos ended up flocking to that as a way to meet other like minded people. There are tons of records and accounts of zoos in those early days. Many people who found animals hot were more than happy to help the hot animal fandom grow. Once that all started to take off, suddenly it was even easier to meet other zoos, and from what I can tell, this is where the first larger kind of community began to form.
This probably wasn't the experience of every person, but if you were around back then it shouldn't feel totally wrong. Like, it shouldn't sound like this is coming out of nowhere: you should be able to imagine the person who did experience all of this in it that way. I talked with a number of older community members in writing this, and the answers that I got varied a ton person to person. But this is my summation of understanding as someone who didn't live that experience. When I myself joined the community at first, it was in one specific space at one specific time, and try as I might to learn from others, my account is never going to be as perfect as someone who was really out there zooing it up for the last fifty years. And hey, if your experience was different to what I've portrayed, or you feel like there's places where you can add more details, feel free to write in! 
But, that's all in the past. Change never stops. Things are going to keep growing and adapting as we go along this journey. So what does the future look like for us zoos? Well, I wish I could say for certain, but unfortunately I can't. There are a few things that I think are more likely than not though. For starters, the community is going to keep growing. At this point, there's a very significant and very clear upward trajectory.
Let's start with the easy changes. The ones that I think are pretty likely to happen for sure. I already mentioned growth, but along with that growth comes a couple other things we can probably expect. For starters, more projects! More artists, more podcasts, more music. For whatever reason, the zoo community is absolutely filled with incredible musicians. And those new people creating content in the community is going to then inflate numbers more and more. Our audiences and platforms are going to get bigger and bigger as more people are interested in hearing what we have to say, or just following the artists because they're making good art. We'll also start to have people interested in exploring new avenues as far as content creation goes. Streamers, Tiktokers, YouTubers, etc. That kind of content is much harder to find success with without the confidence that you'll find a large enough audience to support the effort. Once one person shows you can do it, a lot more are going to try.
I also think that at some point there's going to be a more dramatic schism within the furry fandom. We're already starting to see the cracks today. The furry fandom has a lot of zoos, a lot of non zoos, a lot of closet zoos, a lot of based and chill people, a lot of people who are progressive on some issues but hateful on other issues, a lot of people who are very conservative but think of themselves as progressive, a lot of people who are very online and don't realize that in-person a lot of the negative things they say would get them dirty looks instead of getting them the engagement it does on Twitter. The landscape is ripe for some kind of more explicit and well defined split. Every time there's a viral tweet about pup hoods or ABDL or god forbid *feral*, there are furries that don't consider themselves members of those interests that still defend their right to exist. I think more and more we're going to see that split grow. Certain conventions are going to try and push more for the adult crowd, while others are going to get incredibly safe for work. And I think zoos are probably going to be a big talking point during that separation. The more kink-accepting crowd probably won't be zoo positive immediately or anything, but they might be less immediately hostile to the orientation at least, even if they may be quiet or disapproving of the act. All that to say, I don't think the tie between the furry fandom and the zoo community is going to be going away any time soon. 
From a cultural perspective, you're going to be able to find a lot more people with your more specific non-zoo interests. There'll be more than like 3 zoo groups. And the community will be big enough that those groups will be able to cater to more specific niches. It won't just be "the zoo discord server," it'll be a zoo gaming server, and a zoo cat lovers server, and a zoo pride server, and so on and so on. The same will be true of Telegram as well. Or whatever apps people are using in the next couple years. 
Throughout that process, the culture is likely to change somewhat, from a sentimental perspective. Right now, I feel like I know probably 60% of the zoos who are actively engaging with the community on some level. And of the ones who are actively creating things I try my best to be as close to 100% as possible. But that's going to quickly become impossible. As more and more people join the scene, there's also going to be a lot more strangers around. For some people, and arguably for the community as a whole, that's going to be a good thing. Fresh blood is new opportunities. But for some people this right now is going to be the time when they felt the most connected to a more tight knit community. It might be hard to believe, but as we grow and grow there's going to be some amount of nostalgia for this small us against the world group. Sort of like looking back now on how close and friendly the old local zoo groups were. 
As we grow, it's also going to get more dangerous. For a time at least. There's going to be a threshold we cross, likely sometime soon, where people are going to start paying attention to us for more nefarious means. We've already seen some of it, people who try to create content based around the idea of "owning the zoos." There are already some medium sized Twitter accounts and YouTube videos where you can see this happening.
Typically the content goes something like this: 
Screenshot of a zoo saying "Animals can consent btw" on Twitter. The YouTuber looks at their screen, looks at their camera, and then starts yelling and talking about how gross it is, repeating the same slogans over and over again.
It's not typically super exciting. 
But when I talk about content creators coming after us in the future, that's not who I'm talking about. I'm talking about people who are much more willing to put in time and effort to get the narrative they're looking for. Rather than some nobody with 12 views on their videos just using their laptop facecam and laptop microphone, picture your higher-end, more produced channels, the ones that really get the numbers, put in the effort. They might look to interview zoos, maybe even fairly popular zoos so that they can get the cred for that, and get interesting lines from them. But, they also probably aren't above being on the lookout for some zoos who are the best at clapping back to throw into the cringe parts of their video as well. They're going to be people looking for someone to crucify. And they're probably going to find them: Zoos are just human, after all (Therians and Otherkin notwithstanding, all the love to our non-human zoos out there.) Likewise, there are going to be people who are more than down to spend a month or two getting into the community and making friends just in an effort to try and find something to expose. Not even necessarily in a doxxing kind of way, just sentences that can be tied together in ways that can be presented to an audience negatively. 
I'll be honest, this period of time is going to be the best and the worst. On one hand, this is the point where it's going to become clear that change is happening on a societal level. There's going to be the Tucker Carlson's and Ben Shapiro's of the time putting out hit piece after hit piece against zoos. They're also probably going to use our existence as a blight against queer people in general, saying that our cause proves the existence of the "slippery slope" they've been warning us about since we decided to let two men marry. On the other side of the aisle, prominent leftist media is going to (for the most part) throw up their hands and say "Hey they're not with us!" They might approach it differently than the bigotry party does, maybe they'll even suddenly grow a consciousness about animal cruelty and try to attack us too from that angle, while still funding the meat and dairy industry that rapes and kills animals as frequently as they are able to rape and kill animals with no goal of stopping in sight, only goals of raping and killing animals more. The animal rights question is greater than the zoo question, it's not really on the ballot right now, and we realistically are problematic to both sides, and won't be looked on kindly by the entire right or the entire left.
Personally, anyways, that attack from the left is going to feel a lot more painful, as we see queer icons who've already been fighting the good fight turn to condemn us.
You might be thinking to yourself, "wait hold on, nobody supports us already. What's it matter if people are talking about it more?" But I really need to make it clear here. Right now we as a community get attacked, but it's by 14 year olds with too much screen time (or people with too much screen time who are 14 in spirit). For the most part, you can just close Twitter and live your life. This is different. This is going to be everywhere. You turn on the TV, they're talking about zoos, you check the news, they're talking about zoos. But even more, once the topic becomes part of the culture war you're going to start hearing about zoos in real life. At family events when someone wants to start drama, walking by groups of people talking about how gross zoos are, chatting with coworkers while bored at work looking to kill the last hour of your shift. A lot of people are probably just going to be nodding along and shooting the shit in these conversations, if you came out to them after dinner they might even apologize, but, I do have my doubts that many people are going to be the zoo positive voice in these conversations unless they personally already know a zoo really well, like if they know that a zoo is their friend or their son or their brother.
Another really important thing is going to happen at this point. Scientists are going to start paying more attention to us. We've already seen the start of this process, but this period is really going to kick it into overdrive. And it's not just going to be sociological studies either. At some point, someone is going to test whether or not sex with animals is actually harmful or not. Someone else might study whether or not a dog can actually be "in love" with a human by studying neurochemistry. There are so many things that researchers can look at when studying zoos, and all of these studies are going to be incredibly politically contentious. There is going to be a ton of backlash any time a study says anything positive about us, and it will be held in our faces anytime anyone says anything bad. People are going to misuse the scientific process, which states that being able to repeat a study's results is crucial to a study being worthwhile, and instead people are just going to pick and choose whatever makes their side sound good, even if it might be one in a million that you ever get the same results on that particular study if you did it again. Some of those studies will be fair and mean well. They'll give a real look at the topic and try to find the truth. Others will be more negatively motivated, sponsored by groups that are looking for a bad headline they can get from the numbers.
Those are really going to suck. And a lot of seemingly worthwhile studies will never be funded or approved. 
That's been a lot of bad, but the good is pretty good too. This is going to be the start of us achieving our goal. Acceptance. Sometimes, during conversations, one person might say "honestly, I don't think zoos are that bad. So long as everyone's happy I don't really care." Maybe, in that conversation, you're the one that feels brave enough to say it. Maybe it'll be someone else, and you can just nod your head in agreement. Maybe you'll turn on the news one day and there'll be someone in a nice outfit with a zoo flag pin on their jacket sitting across from an interviewer, and the zoo has a great stage presence, and they're smiling and joking and it feels really good to see. Maybe someone you don't know will hang a zoo flag in their window or on their porch and the next time you see them out walking their dog you say hi and they say hi back, and you ask if you can say hi to their "partner" and they smile so wide and say "of course," and you give the dog lots of pets, and then you and the human swap numbers and agree to grab a coffee sometime. 
More and more, you're going to see experiences like that. Because if we can make it to that point, we've hit a level of critical mass where we're too big to just go away. We'll have embedded ourselves into the cultural milieu to the point that's impossible to fully get rid of us. It'll suck, but so long as the community keeps pushing we'll eventually get through it. We can be a pretty positive bunch, and I think it will be hard for people not to see it if they go looking into us.
And then, we achieve our goal. Like everything else, it'll be another slow process, but little by little it'll happen. Laws will start to change (and change back, and then change again, and then change in some other way), we'll start seeing more and more support. The mainstream is going to accept us. Not everyone will approve, but you'll be able to have an animal partner and live your life relatively like anyone else, without fear it'll affect your social life or job prospects. Hell, maybe you'll even be able to buy zoo pride merch at Target. There'll always be haters, but they'll be the minority, recognized as hateful bigots. A new generation of zoos will be born who don't have to live through the hatred, who can just be themselves.
This is just my take, probably at at least one point reading this you thought to yourself "okay Tarro that's a little much," or "there's no way this happens before that." I want to make it clear, at the end of the day this is all just a guess. There's a chance that we go absolutely nowhere, and end up achieving nothing. But I don't believe so. I'm making this guess based off of looking at other social movements' trends, and approximating the more unique struggles that we're going to face. 
There's also a whole other level to this on the animal rights side, as far as what a zoo revolution does. How does that affect veganism, the way humans get pets, the way pets are treated? What social conversation occurs around animal rights when we start to view them as people, if we do succeed in convincing enough of the mainstream that animals really are people too? But this article is long enough already. If you want a follow up on all of that let me know. 
For now, the message I want to leave on is this. You ever see those road cart things where a bunch of people sit around a table with pedals, and everyone can pedal together to move the thing? The zoo community is like that. We're small right now, so we can have a few people pedaling all out to keep us going, but the larger the community gets and the more pressure put on us, the heavier the cart becomes. Every single person has the ability to help pedal, and the more people that do, the faster we go. But the reality is, not everyone is going to want to put in that effort. And honestly, the thing that scares me the most is that eventually we lose steam and stop moving altogether, buried under our own weight. I don't predict that that will happen. I do see a lot of talent and drive in the community, and to an extent, I think this vehicle almost can't help but propel itself forward at this point. But, there's the "maybe," the possibility of what else happens, if I'm wrong about what kind of positive future awaits us in the distance. 
If the future I described is something that you believe in as well, don't just wait for it to happen. Help make it happen. Be the change you want to see in the world. 
Article written by Tarro (June 2024) 
Questions, comments or concerns? Check out our Discord server!