World's Fair

Robots, hamsters, and biodiversity.

Or something like that:…

I just noticed, with some amusement, that the 2010 Toy of the Year is something akin to a cute robotic rodent. Specifically, they are called Zhu Zhu Pets, a mechanical universe of furry and mobile hamsters, expandable with a hamster-like ecosystem complete with wheels, balls, and see through tunnels. The fact that this was announced during the International Year of Biodiversity seems deliciously ironic but maybe also informative?

Lest you think my thoughts on biodiversity outreach and education will settle uncomfortably on robotics, or perhaps even more frightening, hamsters, let me reassure you that, instead, I think this nugget of toy trivia highlights a problem with developed society in general. That is, we and more importantly, our children, have an apparent lack of connection with nature.

A piece of mine over at the Natural History Museum website. Read on by clicking here.

Be very very afraid… (Image by Chris Bloke)


  1. #1 Art
    September 20, 2010

    Next: electric sheep.

  2. #2 stripey_cat
    September 20, 2010

    Having spent the evening hoeing weeds off the veg plot, and then scrubbing sap and mud out from under my nails, I’m all in favour of little robot hamsters tonight! I’m also in favour of glyphosate and poured concrete about now.

    Seriously, I agree that getting more kids involved with nature on a day-to-day basis is a good goal, but I believe that it’ll take a lot to overcome parental boredom and revulsion (after all, if your Mum’s a keen gardener, you will likely also grow up used to bugs, weeds, dirt and all the rest of it).

  3. #3 Bob O'H
    September 21, 2010

    Next: electric sheep.

    You dream about them, don’t you?

  4. #4 zhuzhu
    September 21, 2010

    I love the “do not sleep with zhu zhu pets” warning. But I can totally see kids wanting to do that

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