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Cat trees and rat queens: 10 things that actually happened on the bonkers TV series Zoo

James Wolk and Nora Arnezeder in "Zoo"
James Wolk and Nora Arnezeder in "Zoo"

Great strides have been made in the fight to convince people that television isn't the floating garbage island they once believed it to be. Some might even say we're in a "golden age" of the medium, one that affords us almost too many good options to fully enjoy. It's an embarrassment of riches out there, and we, the viewers, are the victors.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you'd like to argue against the Golden Age of Television, though, may I suggest CBS's summer series Zoo?

Based on a James Patterson novel of the same name, Zoo follows the adventures of "renegade zoologist Jackson Oz" (James Wolk) and his perpetually frowning band of troublemaking colleagues as they race to discover why the animals are rising up.

Yes: All the world's a zoo, and Renegade Zoologist Jackson Oz is merely a player.

In the world of Zoo, the animals are communicating telepathically with one another across the world. They are targeting technology, and they really, really like to kill people.

Meanwhile, no cliché is excluded. No conclusion goes by without being repeated a thousand times for safe measure. No character speaks like a human.

If the show weren't so busy trying to be The Bourne Identity with zoo animals, it could be Jumanji with renegade zoologists. If it didn't self-identify as a conspiracy drama, it would be exactly the kind of ridiculous fun that summer shows should be. Instead, each episode is mostly just a slog.

And yet I have seen every episode.

So to make my mind-boggling decision to keep up with this show worth something, please enjoy this painstakingly crafted list of 10 things that have actually happened on the CBS summer series Zoo.

1) A veterinary pathologist (Billy Burke) realizes the animal revolution is coming when he finds all the house cats of Brentwood, Los Angeles, sitting in a tree

The "terrifying" cat tree of Brentwood.


A journalist — who previously blogged under the nom de plume "Girl With the Genie Tattoo" — stares up into the tree in horror. "This is an elementary school," she says.

Veterinary Pathologist Billy Burke sighs as he shines a flashlight up into the tree, weary with dread. "Summer camp starts tomorrow," he says.

The Girl With the Genie Tattoo shudders.

The cats blink, adorably.

The animal revolution is coming.

2) Lions that have escaped to downtown Los Angeles communicate telepathically with their lion friends in Botswana, so that they may draw out Renegade Zoologist Jackson Oz with a fake phone call

It works.

3) During a family's trip to the circus, their beloved Jack Russell terrier lures the father to an alleyway to be eaten by the terrier's waiting pack of dog friends

There are snarling sound effects, but ultimately it's an adorable pack of dog friends that would be better off on Nickelodeon solving crimes together.

4) A married lesbian couple freezes to death in Antarctica when bats not only cover their solar panels, but sacrifice themselves for whatever cause by dive-bombing the backup generator

The couple dies singing Oasis.

5) A pack of wolves organize a jail break with help from their serial killer alpha

You'd think our heroes might ask this serial killer how he managed to sway the wolves in his favor, since the world's fate depends on it, but nah.

6) Veterinary Pathologist Billy Burke realizes he can use a fire hose to defeat an "army" of birds when he remembers he once saved a Dalmatian

Pictured: foolproof method for killing birds.

(He thinks its name was Spot.)

7) Plans to study an infected bear go awry when it wakes up from its Highly Unusual summer hibernation with a bulletproof exoskeleton

You can't stop the beast.

8) An actual army of rats start reproducing asexually, the better to overthrow Norwegian oil tankers and pour out of elevators in tidal waves

Our heroes eventually take out the "rat queens" with a flamethrower.

9) A woman comes home, checks her mail, pours a glass of white wine, makes a sad salad, and then realizes she's being followed around by an enormous brown bear

She is one of the few people to survive an animal attack on Zoo.

10) ...

One of these is definitely worse.

Zoo's second season debuts Tuesday, June 28 at 9 pm on CBS. Previous episodes are available on *

*Please do not watch Zoo.