What’s with the Romantic Comedy, Zookeeper–Interview w/ CNN Relationship Expert & Evolutionary Psychologist, Dr. Wendy Walsh

Contributing Editor, Jordan Schaul, interviews relationship and psychological expert to CNN and The CBS Early Show, Dr. Wendy Walsh , for his series of articles critiquing the soon-to-be released romantic comedy Zookeeper— a feature film produced by Adam Sandler (Happy Gilmore Productions). Dr. Walsh was trained in evolutionary psychology and hosts a blog entitled Dating. Mating. Relating. Both have seen the trailer and explore some very fundamental aspects of relationships and societal norms as they relate to the film which hits theaters July 8th.

 (Zookeeper–the pseudo-review and link to trailer)

Dr. Wendy Walsh (psychological expert on CNN and The CBS Early Show)


Jordan Schaul: Before we even discuss the film can you tell me if a zoo or an aquarium is a good place to take a date?

Wendy Walsh: Depends on the date. If one’s date is interested in the natural sciences, it would be ideal. If one’s date is a city slicker in Jimmy Choo heels, perhaps not. Check the school field trip schedule though. Dates aren’t fun in a swarm of screaming kids.

Jordan Schaul: I’m not a behaviorist or a relationship guru, but I suspect that romantic comedies do well in theaters for a reason.

Wendy Walsh: Yes. They are a clear formula that appeals to their big demographic: middle aged women. Romantic comedies help mostly women have an emotional experience that allows them to empathize with love found, love lost, and love found again.

Jordan Schaul: A lot of zoo keepers get married to each other. Are work place relationships reflective of more than just common interest and exposure, and working closely with another person?

Wendy Walsh: You got it. The workplace is the new singles bar. But it comes with a warning. Workplace flirting can be construed as sexual harassment and many companies have rules against dating co-workers.

Jordan Schaul: Zoo Keeping is not a menial job, but servicing a zoo animal collection is often perceivedof as just that–cleaning up after one’s animal charges. Most animal keepers select the field because of a life-long passion for working closely with animals. Many have Master’s degrees and some have PhD’s or are working toward earning such credentials.  In fact, I can think of a few charismatic animal keepers who have a following of groupies. What is it about the passionate animal lovers that is so appealing.
Wendy Walsh:  It’s the act of giving care that is attractive to women. Cross cultural studies have shown that men tend to choose partners based on beauty and women based on income, rating above both of those are kindness and intelligence. 
Jordan Schaul: It’s true that zoo keeping is not a lucrative field. Do you think that a relatively low wage is a deterrent for a majority of prospective mates or is there hope for the interesting, but perhaps underpaid?
Wendy Walsh: There is someone for everyone. I think worldwide we are seeing a greater competition for females as the abortion of female fetuses has created an unnatural gender imbalance. When that happens single men tend to accumulate in the lower income group.  However, I think intelligence and kindness cam trump money as a way to attract mates, if men know how to play the mating game.

Jordan Schaul: A lot of animal keepers have mixed feelings about watching this film. My guess is that individuals who exude confidence are more likely to find a mate regardless of their income or profession. Hence, it would behoove people to allow themselves to be entertained and not take the film too seriously. Am I on the right track?

Wendy Walsh: This is HOLLYWOOD and Hollywood never does real life well. Yes, take the film as entertainment. Period. 
Jordan Schaul: Today’s zoo keepers are predominantly women. Proposed reasons include less interest in higher wages and more nurturing personalities. Is this too much of a generalization?
Wendy Walsh: Yea it is. Women are rising in all professions. Due to the recession, when more expensive men were laid off than women, women became the majority of the workforce in America. More women are graduating from college than men and in many urban centers women in the 25-30 age group ate making more than their male peers. I’m not surprised it’s happening in zoo keeping too.

Changing Planet

Meet the Author
With training in wildlife ecology, conservation medicine and comparative psychology, Dr. Schaul's contributions to Nat Geo Voices have covered a range of environmental and social topics. He draws particular attention to the plight of imperiled species highlighting issues at the juncture or nexus of sorta situ wildlife conservation and applied animal welfare. Sorta situ conservation practices are comprised of scientific management and stewardship of animal populations ex situ (in captivity / 'in human care') and in situ (free-ranging / 'in nature'). He also has a background in behavior management and training of companion animals and captive wildlife, as well as conservation marketing and digital publicity. Jordan has shared interviews with colleagues and public figures, as well as editorial news content. In addition, he has posted narratives describing his own work, which include the following examples: • Restoration of wood bison to the Interior of Alaska while (While Animal Curator at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and courtesy professor at the University of Alaska) • Rehabilitation of orphaned sloth bears exploited for tourists in South Asia (While executive consultant 'in-residence' at the Agra Bear Rescue Center managed by Wildlife SOS) • Censusing small wild cat (e.g. ocelot and margay) populations in the montane cloud forests of Costa Rica for popular publications with 'The Cat Whisperer' Mieshelle Nagelschneider • Evaluating the impact of ecotourism on marine mammal population stability and welfare off the coast of Mexico's Sea of Cortez (With Boston University's marine science program) Jordan was a director on boards of non-profit wildlife conservation organizations serving nations in Africa, North and South America and Southeast Asia. He is also a consultant to a human-wildlife conflict mitigation organization in the Pacific Northwest. Following animal curatorships in Alaska and California, he served as a charter board member of a zoo advocacy and outreach organization and later as its executive director. Jordan was a member of the Communication and Education Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (CEC-IUCN) and the Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (BSG-SSC-IUCN). He has served on the advisory council of the National Wildlife Humane Society and in service to the Bear Taxon Advisory Group of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA Bear TAG). In addition he was an ex officio member of council of the International Association for Bear Research and Management. Contact Email: jordan@jordanschaul.com http://www.facebook.com/jordan.schaul https://www.linkedin.com/in/jordanschaul/ www.jordanschaul.com www.bicoastalreputationmanagement.com