Longform Reprints: Wild Things by David Samuels by David Samuels: The beguiling sleight of hand that allows visitors to the Bronx to believe that they are somewhere else is performed by human beings who are masters of their chosen arts; the animals are simply props. Ray Oladapo-Johnson, the only native African working at any higher level of the zoo when I visited, is the curator of horticulture. Born in Nigeria, he was educated in England before returning to Lagos to create artful landscapes for the wealthy children of the dictator Sani Abacha’s regime. He is a kind and loving guide to the ways in which plant life can be used to fool the eye. “The key thing here is to create a feel that transcends the exact specifics of what you would find growing in the Congo, simply because we can’t,” he explains. Honey locust trees look like acacia trees, and give you the feeling of the Serengeti. The density, height, and types of available foliage are equated, flipped, and transformed according to grammatical laws that only a lifelong wanderer could hope to master.Great post via MeFi.