Megan Granter
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Biology Behind 'Zoo'

In the CBS Show 'Zoo'

In the CBS show Zoo, the animals have evolved and mutated, they now recognize the way we as humans have treated our planet and them and are fighting back against us with their newly mutated ‘superpowers.’ The CBS show revolves around the fact that the animals are now more adept to the way humans have ruled the food chain and currently have the want to group together and fight back. Bats have begun to swarm together and are now taking planes down during the day. Rats are now slaughtering cabin crew members that they once peacefully shared a boat with. While everyday house animals like cats and dogs are just grouping together and making use of what they have to fight back. There are a select few animals that seem to have these ‘superpower” like gifts. Sloths now have the ability to cause earthquakes, there are ants that can create an electric current large enough to blow up buildings, and five other creatures that have mutated into a super beasts that can cause large scale destruction. As evolution itself as one of the facts in today's world concepts in the show, there are a few false to today's world technologies that the show revolves around as well. Such as the mother cell which is what is causing the animals to behave so differently so suddenly, the triple helix which is the three strand DNA which is why there are super mutated animals, and ghost gene which causes the “superpower powers” in these super animals.

The basis of the show Zoo revolves around, is “These actions are the unintended consequences of climate change and what we’ve done to the planet,” supervising producer Bryan Oh said. In the show it is discovered that Raiden Global, a biotechnology company specialized in making all types of products, including pesticides, animal food and medicines, contains an ingredient called the mother cell, which is the cause of all the animals, insects, arachnids, etc. rapid mutation. The mother cell changed the animals so that they no longer fought and ate each other but fought and ate humans instead. We as humans have polluted and destroyed the earth and animals ecosystems so bad that when animals developed the cognitive abilities we humans have, their primary goal was to gain revenge and eliminate the humans. Although Raiden Global was the sole cause for the animals evolutionary adaptation, the cause for the seven super mutated animals, as the show dubs them, triple helix animals, was a scientist who went around in 1895 X-raying them, the vultures, ants, sloths, snakes, jellyfishes, lizards, and sabertooth Cats, which the radiation mutated within them causing a ghost gene to appear, a third strand in the DNA as the bread and produced offspring. The ghost gene was then hiding away until the mother cell activated it and made it present within the animals.

In today's world, the possibility of evolution and mutation has already been proven to remain a fact that animals go through, maybe not over the course of days or weeks like in the CBS show Zoo, but throughout existence, animals, insects, and all walks of life do adapt and evolve to better their survival. Darwin's theory of natural selection states that we live in a world that is survival of the fittest and if you can't adapt, you can't survive. As for animals learning to fight back against humans, it is true that over time animals will determine who their natural enemy is and will either fight or flight against them. For example, how some deer in parts of Canada that is frequently hunted will run away in fear at even the slightest of noises around them. While deer in deserted places, who have never come in contact with humans before are curious and may even approach you before they would even think fear. An example of an animal fighting back against humans; there is a documentary Blackfish that is based off of Tilikum the SeaWorld killer whale responsible for the death of three people, including a top trainer. There have been many reports before of the deaths and near-deaths suffered by trainers at SeaWorld and similar entertainment centers when their whales suddenly turned against them. After being held in an unnatural captivity for so long the animals just couldn't take it anymore. The documentary illustrates the sometimes devastating consequences of keeping such animals in captivity.

One theory in the show is the defiant pupil, a mutation of the eye, appears as a slit in only the animals that have a round pupil. It is thought that the mutation of the pupil in the animals eye is what gives them the enhanced ability to be getting smarter and go to war against humans. As well as beginning to act uncharacteristically, like in lions who began hunting to kill rather than just to eat or teach their young. This theory was disproved by the gang in Zoo when they discovered the mother cell which is the precise cause, as well disapproved by Dr. Andrew Macintyre of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, by saying that “while some genes predispose animals to be more aggressive, small genetic changes like the “defiant pupil” wouldn’t lead to a global panic.”

As said before and throughout the show, many times, the gang has referred to the mother cell as reason why the animals have mutated, although in the show they explain it as a vector in Raiden globals products that have affected the animals, in today's world, there is no such thing as this vector. In the show, the mother cell is explained as a DNA molecule that accelerates and replicates dormant genetic mutations, but according to Dr. Macintyre “unnatural mutations like the Mother Cell do not exist in the real animal kingdom.” He then goes on to say that “Mutations are random—they hit different genes and different parts of DNA,” Dr. Macintyre explained further by saying “Some mutations are silent because they have no discernible effect, but they also can’t be switched on or off.”

The majority of the previous two seasons are spent seeking out a cure or a vaccine for the animals to reverse the effects that the mother cell has had on the animals. According to Robert Oz, a Professor at Harvard and scientist in the CBS show Zoo, in order to create a cure they need to collect the seven triple helix animals. While in the show this may have worked and reversed the effects of the mother cell, in real life, if a vaccine had been created it would first need a healthy host to prevent the effects. According to the show the mother cell alters dormant genes, but as of today's knowledge of science and vaccines there is no known vaccine that would alter any of an adult animals genetic information. Therefore, it is not a possibility that could occur.

The CBS show Zoo also includes seven triple helix animals, these animals being those that are so highly mutated that they have “superpower” like gifts caused by a third strand in their DNA. For example the jellyfish that was collected during their journey has the ability to create hurricanes from merely just having access to the atmosphere around it. The first thing wrong about this concept is that DNA is inherently a double-strand molecule and there has never been a reported triple stranded DNA molecule. The second thing wrong with this concept is that hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural phenomena are caused by heat, water, tectonic plate shifting and many other logistical reasons, not a jellyfish or sloth's will to destroy humankind.

Indeed, in my opinion it does do a good job explaining the concept because all of the scientific things it include, although may be untrue to today's world, was put into layman terminology. This made it so that everyone would be capable to clearly comprehend what was going on in the show because of how the show mainly revolved around these concepts. When the CBS show Zoo did take a minute to explain what exactly each scientific discovery they made like the defiant pupil, mother cell, triple helix, etc. instead of the concrete scientific terms they could have, they wrote the script in a way that it is interesting and can be easily interpreted by everyone.

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