Zoo (film)

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Zoo(2007 film) poster.jpg
Zoo movie poster
Directed by Robinson Devor
Produced by Peggy Case
Alexis Ferris
Written by Charles Mudede
Robinson Devor
Starring Richard Carmen
Paul Eenhoorn
Russell Hodgkinson
John Paulsen
Cinematography Sean Kirby
Edited by Joe Shapiro
Distributed by THINKFilm
Release date
January 18, 2007 (2007-01-18)
Theatrical: April 25, 2007 (2007-04-25)
Running time
80 min.
Country United States
Language English

Zoo is a 2007 American documentary film based on the life and death of Kenneth Pinyan, an American man who died of peritonitis due to perforation of the colon after engaging in receptive anal sex with a horse. The film's public debut was at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2007, where it was one of 16 winners out of 856 candidates. Following Sundance, it was selected as one of the top five American films to be presented at the Directors Fortnight sidebar at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.


The movie was originally titled In the Forest There Is Every Kind of Bird,[1] but is released under the title Zoo, short for zoophile, signifying a person with a sexual interest in animals.


The idea for the film began when Jenny Edwards, who as Executive Director of a rescue called Hope for Horses, rescued one of the abused stallions from the Zoo brothel that is the focus of the film, called Charles Mudede to thank him for writing a balanced piece about the incident in the Seattle weekly The Stranger. Originally the film was to be a story about the dead Pinyan, his family and the rescue of the horse who killed him. Much of the film was made with the co-operation of Edwards, using her barn and other rescued horses. The veterinarian in the film, Dr. Hannah Mueller (who was known as Hannah Evergreen at the time), provided veterinary care for Edwards' horse rescue.[citation needed]

During production the film changed due to the involvement of the two men who took Pinyan to the hospital, as well as other friends of his. Filming was almost finished when James Tait agreed to be interviewed. Tait ran the farm in Enumclaw, Washington where Pinyan was fatally injured, and took Pinyan to the hospital emergency room. His inclusion and interaction with the director derailed the initial concept of the film and resulted in a major re-editing after the Sundance Festival, at which time much of the original Hannah Evergreen footage was cut.[citation needed] The film became an attempt to explore the life and death of Pinyan, as well as those who came to the farm near Enumclaw for similar reasons, beyond the public understanding of the media. Ultimately it tried to become a positive expose of human-animal sex as a sexual preference.[citation needed] It contains explicit material of sexual activities. The first depicts an unidentified male being mounted and having receptive anal intercourse with a stallion, while the other depicts, on a loop, Kenneth Pinyan being mounted and having receptive anal intercourse with a stallion, as James Tait and an unidentified male helped mount Pinyan and film the sex act until the stallion orgasms and pulls out of Pinyan.

Awards and recognition[edit]

Zoo was one of 16 documentaries selected, out of 856 submitted, for screening at the Sundance Film Festival,[2] and played at numerous U.S. regional festivals thereafter.[3]

It was selected as one of the top five American films to be presented at the Directors Fortnight sidebar at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.[4][5]


They called us and were excited about the imagery, the poetry, the experimentation with the documentary form [...] then, strangely, suddenly, in 2005, it becomes the talk of society. [...] How do we go from something being utterly hidden from view, and then suddenly we're consumed with it and so upset by it we need to pass a law?[2]

Charles Mudede

Sundance judges called it a "humanizing look at the life and bizarre death of a seemingly normal Seattle family man who met his untimely end after an unusual encounter with a horse".[6]

The Seattle Times called it "A tough sell that gets respect at Sundance",[7] also noting the local economic effect of landmark films which put a location "on the map". OC Weekly film says, "Zoo achieves the seemingly impossible: It tells the luridly reported tale of a Pacific Northwest engineer for Boeing's[8] fatal sexual encounter with a horse in a way that’s haunting rather than shocking and tender beyond reason."[9] Similar views were expressed by the Los Angeles Times ("remarkably, an elegant, eerily lyrical film has resulted")[10] and the Toronto Star, "gorgeously artful ... one of the most beautifully restrained, formally distinctive and mysterious films of the entire festival".[11]

Other reviewers criticized the film for breaching "the last taboo", or for sinking to new depths: "More compelling than the depths of man's degeneracy is our cultural rationalization of 'art,' whereby pushing the envelope is confused with genius and scuttling the last taboo is seen as an expression of sophistication."[12]


Charles Mudede reported in 2015 that the zoophiles featured in the film had remained in contact with the director; according to Mudede they believe that Devor was "a real ally" to their cause.[13]


  1. ^ Macdonald, Moira (July 3, 2006). "Infamous Enumclaw horse sex case to be made into movie". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on July 5, 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-03. 
  2. ^ a b Westneat, Danny (December 3, 2006). "New movie is the spawn of horse sex". The Seattle Times. 
  3. ^ Dentler, Matt (May 4, 2007). "Cannes Countdown: Directors' Fortnight Lineup Impresses". Matt Dentler's Blog. Archived from the original on February 9, 2008. Retrieved July 13, 2011. 
  4. ^ Levy, Emanuel. "Zoo: Inside the Controversial Documentary about Bestiality". 
  5. ^ Hernandez, Eugene (May 3, 2007). "Slate Set for 49th Directors' Fortnight; Corbijn's "Control" Opening Section". indieWIRE. 
  6. ^ Westneat, Danny (December 3, 2006). "New movie is the spawn of horse sex". Seattle Times. 
  7. ^ Vicchrilli, Sam (January 26, 2007). ""Zoo" a tough sell that gets respect at Sundance". The Seattle Times. 
  8. ^ Kaufman, Anthony (January 23, 2007). "Year of the Horse: The Stunning World of "Zoo"". 
  9. ^ Nelson, Rob (January 25, 2007). "Sympathy for the Devil". OC Weekly. 
  10. ^ Kenneth Turan (January 22, 2007). "'Zoo' is not just 'eeew'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-09-04. 
  11. ^ Pevere, Geoff (January 26, 2007). "In praise of real movies". Toronto Star. 
  12. ^ Kathleen Parker (January 26, 2007). "Sundance films wallow in perversity, try to pass it off as 'art'". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2011-09-04. 
  13. ^ Sokol, Zach. "The Strange, Sad Story of the Man Named Mr. Hands Who Died from Having Sex with a Horse". vice. vice.com. Retrieved 1 January 2016. 

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