What If We Had Alien Zoos? | Unveiled
What If We Had Alien Zoos? | Unveiled

What If We Had Alien Zoos? | Unveiled

VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio
Like Jurassic Park... but for aliens! Join us... and explore!

What would happen if humans had alien zoos? In this video, Unveiled flips the Zoo Hypothesis around, and imagines that one day humankind will be the ones observing an alien civilisation (instead of the other way around!). How would that work? What would life be like? And could it be the start of the end of the world??

What If We Had Alien Zoos?

According to most statistical models, aliens are out there. Somewhere. The reasons as to why we haven’t discovered any yet are plenty, and some are more convincing than others… but the general scientific consensus increasingly leans toward the idea that we are not alone. That there is something else. So, what if when we discover that something else, we try to control it?

This is Unveiled, and today we’re answering the extraordinary question; what if we had alien zoos?

This video is not directly about the Zoo Hypothesis. We have published videos on this concept before - the idea that humans on Earth really exist in an enclosure, in a higher-level zoo, and that aliens are watching over us - but today we’re turning the theory on its head. Instead, we’re imagining a future time when humanity has discovered alien life, but we’ve put it in a zoo, rather than the other way round. How would that work? What would need to happen between now and then? And would you want to visit such a place? We’ll answer the first two questions, and you can feel free to debate that last one in the comments section!

Picture the scene. Sometime in the (potentially) near future, someone discovers genuine alien life. Then, if it’s not here already, we transport that life back to Earth, to live among us. The discovery, and the first presence of an extraterrestrial on this planet, would surely go down as a key turning point in the history of space and science. For the first few years, maybe the first few decades, it’s unlikely that our alien sample would spend much time at all away from the lab. It would be subject to testing for all sorts of reasons, including to determine where it came from, how it lives, and whether (or not) it’s safe. Of course, conspiracy theories abound that we’re already at this stage. That the authorities already have aliens captive in top secret bases at various locations. But, regardless of if that’s true or not, we’re imagining what happens next.

After the testing, the alien is revealed to the rest of the world. Interest is understandably high, and people flock from all over to see the phenomenon first-hand. Then, inspired by their success to this point, our future humans search for more aliens… and they find them. They use their increasing sample to better understand an alien genome, and then they begin breeding. And maybe even cloning. We’ll have had millions of years without a confirmed alien presence to speak of, but as soon as one discovery is made, we could quickly see more.

Nevertheless, a genuine, not-of-this-world alien would still, for the most part, be an unknown. It might inspire excitement and intrigue, but also fear and anxiety. And, ultimately, humans would try their best to contain and control it. Like the dinosaurs in “Jurassic Park”, parameter fences might be enough to keep an alien species in one place. But, not necessarily. If an alien were to also have an alternate elemental composition, then it might possess seemingly superhuman capabilities meaning that walls and fences couldn’t keep it in. We could then see an extraterrestrial version of “King Kong”, with an alien on the loose and the authorities trying to recover it.

Failing that, another possibility is that we wouldn’t actually see anything at all. In 2020, the British astronaut Helen Sharman made headlines when she suggested, during an interview with “The Guardian”, that it’s possible that aliens are here on Earth right now and we “simply can’t see them”. The astrobiologist, Samantha Rolfe, wrote further on Sharman’s idea, saying in her own article that if invisible aliens did exist, they could be in a “shadow biosphere”… a space right in front of our eyes, but one that we cannot see because of its fundamentally different biochemical makeup. This mind-bending concept is certainly intriguing, but it would be terrible news for our alien zoo… if it ever hoped to become a tourist attraction. Because how many people are really going to show up to look at something that’s invisible? Even if it is an alien!

No, for an alien zoo to happen then alien life would have to first and foremost be two things - containable and comprehensible. We’d have to be able to see it and safely keep it in one place. Which is why it might never be possible. We humans can consider ourselves reasonably advanced in terms of Earth-dwelling creatures, but we’ve nothing to compare ourselves to from anywhere else. And various theories suggest that if aliens do exist, then at least some of them - maybe even most of them - are far superior to humankind. With alien overlords watching on, then, we can see how our treatment of any alien we hypothetically discover could be crucial. And why alien zoos might actually be a terrible idea.

In the future, when we venture out into the stars, and when we first cross paths with something not of this world, the humans that do so will be our representatives to the rest of the universe. What they choose to do will reflect well or badly for the whole of humanity… so, alien zoos might make a fast buck back on Earth, but they could also quickly destroy our chances of building any kind of intergalactic presence. By keeping an alien zoo, we’d potentially be damaging initial relations with the aliens themselves. Revealing to the rest of the cosmos that we’d rather capture other creatures than cooperate with them.

To return to the Zoo Hypothesis, it suggests that there could be a level we have to reach before the true nature of reality is revealed to us… and we’re released from our enclosure. However, it also suggests that we might never reach that level and will self-destruct in the meantime. Through the lens of today’s question, that self-destruction could be triggered by our actions when we do finally meet an alien being. Trap it in a zoo, put it on show, experiment on it, or clone it… and we could feel its wrath in a big way. Do none of those things, and we could forge a friendship.

Somewhat concerningly, there is little by way of internationally agreed-upon law as to how we would approach and communicate with a confirmed extraterrestrial. Some sci-fi movies paint it as though we would come in peace, but in truth there isn’t much of a plan. The Outer Space Treaty says that we should only use the Moon and other celestial bodies for peaceful purposes, but it was written up at the height of the Cold War and mostly relates to peace between nations on Earth. So, what do you think the human reaction to an alien would be?

There are so many variables at play here that it’s easy to see why some argue that we should just leave well enough alone. That we should just accept the unknown and forget about first contact with aliens, instead adopting a defensive mode as per the Dark Forest Theory. In the Dark Forest Theory, there certainly is no place for an alien zoo. Rather than rounding extraterrestrial species up, it says that all aliens are tentatively moving through the universe, trying to go unnoticed - lest they provoke another, more advanced alien species and get themselves killed. It’s one possible solution to the Fermi Paradox. But were humanity to put the first alien it meets into captivity, then it would be throwing all caution to the solar wind… brazenly stomping through the stars and inviting any extraterrestrial it disturbs to fight back.

There’s no doubt that the advent of an alien zoo on Earth would generate massive interest. And, for so long as the aliens within it were physically recognisable to us, it would attract visitors from all over the world map. Even in a future time when the discovery of alien species has become commonplace. But this is one alternate reality that would also be guided by severe existential threat. An alien zoo would be a statement by whoever built it, that they believed themselves to be the ones in charge. But, in all likelihood, they wouldn’t be… and there’d be another, more advanced power ready and waiting to dismantle the zoo and exact revenge.

What’s perhaps more probable is that humankind will one day find itself as the specimens on show at an attraction elsewhere in the galaxy. Or maybe, if the Zoo Hypothesis is correct, we’re already being watched over by a far superior force. But that’s for another video! For now, that’s what would happen if we had alien zoos.