Welcome back to Digital Debate Wednesdays! Every Wednesday, the staff of The Ace of Geeks will get our keyboards ready for a good, old fashioned nerd argument, and you get to hang out with us! Feel free to email us any ideas you might have for future debates. Until then, here’s this weeks topic:

Zootopia had the biggest animated movie opening of all time two weeks ago. The funny, furry tale of two friends has an important message, and a very interesting bit of worldbuilding. The movie takes place in a world where animals have gained intelligence and live together in harmony, in very human communities. Lions work next to gazelle in a society that is very clearly designed to benefit all species.

We’re shown several times how Zootopia operates to allow all creatures, big and small, to live together. But the film glosses over one key aspect – food. Lions, Tigers, Foxes, they’re all referred to as “carnivores” or occasionally “predators.” But we never actually see them EAT.

So here’s the question, and put your thinking caps on, we want theories here: Given that all forms of animal life are shown to be grown up, sentient, and civilized, how do carnivorous species in the Zootopia world eat?

Ellie Collins: They eat domesticated humans bred to be food. *shrug* I just figured it works the opposite for their world.

  • Mark Foo: This question just blew my mind. And so did Ellie.
  • Ben Worley: Ellie blew my mind and I love it.
  • Ellie Collins: I mean if we’re not the top of the food chain we’re a part of it. Makes sense to me at least.

Ellie Collins: Or there are potentially cases of them eating each other, but that would be dealt with via the law similar to how we deal with murder. “Why did you have to eat Steve when there is perfectly good Wisconsin-bred human steak in the fridge?!”

  • Mark Foo: Of course, your typical sentient-on-sentient food crime. Almost goes without saying.
  • Mike Fatum: Is it considered cannibalism in Zootopia if a Lion eats a Gazelle?
  • Ellie Collins: I wouldn’t think so. I would wager legally they would define cannibalism to kind vs kind. They would probably classify it like carnivorous homicide.
  • Mike Fatum: Allrighty. But what if a Bunny somehow kills and eats a Lion? Now we need a new legal definition for homicide when it’s not a carnivore. Maybe Interspecies Homicide?
  • Mark Foo: Sentient-on-sentient crime. Pay attention, FATUM!
  • Ellie Collins: The carnivorous part is because he ate the lion. Even if he’s a herbivore, he ate meat and thus it would be carnivorous.
  • Mike Fatum: Oooh, that’s a good point.
  • Ellie Collins: I’m uncomfortable with how much I’ve thought out the eating habits and legal systems of an animal world.
  • Brian Patterson: HAHAHAHAHAHA.
  • Mike Fatum: Never be uncomfortable for something like this.Now, do you think juries in Zootopia are more lenient on carnivores when it comes to animal on animal crime? Or do they come down harder?Probably depends on the makeup of the jury, I suppose.
  • Ellie Collins: Yeah it would entirely depend on the jury but I think the “instincts” defense would be similar to pleading insanity.

Lauren Harrington: Maybe like in Bojack Horseman, where they breed farms of animals that are assumed not to be capable of sentience. There’s also the option of, like in the book Feed by M.T. Andersen (I wrote a review on it like 3 years ago), they have meat farms that just grow the meat, not the animal.

  • Mike Fatum: They are pretty technologically advanced in Zootopia, so growing meat is probably possible.

Mary Anne Butler: I’m thinking back to such shows as Tail Spin, where we had animals living as humans. ShereKhan is shown eating plates with what looks like steaks etc, I would assume in the Disney world, when animals presented like humans, they are not as we would traditionally view them, they are just humans who look like animals/identify as the animal species. I think we are meant to accept them as humans in their daily lives, so yes they’d eat meat, but to them, they’re eating animals and not their own species.

  • Mike Fatum: So there are sentient cows but also non-sentient, food ready cows?Now I’m deeply curious how that evolutionary shift happened.
  • Mary Anne Butler: I mean really, I think the classic animal Disney based shows/films hold the key.

Teresa Loesch: In the present, there are plenty of technological ways, from protein supplements to lab grown meat.

In the past, however, I’m going to go with willing herbivore sacrifice. Essentially hunting tactics of going after the weak, old, and sick, except that herbivores give themselves over willingly. It’s the price of modern society, and no price is too steep for peace.

  • Mike Fatum: This went to a dark place.
  • Mark Foo: So dark.
  • Mike Fatum: Now I’m imagining that Zootopia is secretly a lot like The Giver. Everything is Perfect, but when an animal gets too sick or old, they’re sent…Elsewhere.
  • Mark Foo: I imagine lines of elderly and infirm zebras marching into slaughterhouses, their loved ones wishing them goodbye and thanking them for their sacrifice.
  • “We love you, grandma, but your inability to produce for the Machine has rendered you obsolete. We have telegraphed the authorities to collect you.”
  • Teresa Loesch: Okay so just to be clear: Mike’s the one who asked the deliberately thorny question of how Zootopia would function via food, and I’m the dark one.Also, you’re making it so grim. When it’s a celebrated part of the life cycle none of them would truly object! Plus, you know, they know carnivores and they’re really nice guys, most of them! Everyone’s gotta eat!

Synthia Weires: We know they eat doughnuts, carrots, blueberries, and pawsicles.

Mike Fatum: I’m trying to remember if we ever see a tiger or some other “have to eat meat or they’ll die” animal chowing down on a pawsicle. Are foxes herbivores? I should google this.

Synthia Weires: The directors and producer revealed a lot more, including what the animals eat in a society where they don’t eat each other. We also learned that there are no apes, birds or reptiles in this town and what that might mean for future films. Will we see a birdtopia sequel?

Also no reptiles or birds is interesting.

Or apes.

Or fish.

They have a restaurant called “Bug Burger” apparently. Actually, I just checked, and  they did research to see if a world like zootopia could sustain on bug protein and turns out, yes.

Did I mention I really, really, REALLY liked this movie?

Justin Rhodes: Soylent brown is animals.


Mike Fatum
Referred to as a God Among Men, the Greatest Man that Ever Lived, and That Dude Over There…No, The Dude with the Long Hair and the Goatee…Yes, That Guy, Mike has grown up being known and loved around his apartment. In addition to being a successful film director and editor, he loves video games, movies, comic books, board games, and his wife and cat. He’s been friends with Jarys for over a decade now, and they started hosting a radio show together on college that became the genesis for the Ace of Geeks Podcast. When he realized he had so many talented friends who could write, the Podcast became an entertainment website, and here we are.

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