"For centuries, mankind has been the dominant species. We've domesticated animals, locked them up, killed them. But what if, all across the globe, the animals decided...no more? What if they finally decided to bite back?"

Thus, our introduction to James Pattersons' 'Zoo' begins -- a chilling reminder of the Darwinian roots from which we sprung, and a harbinger of what's to come. What if we as humans are no longer the Alpha Male? No longer the dominant species on the planet? What happens if these "inferior" animals are not so any longer?

From the African Safari to the concrete jungles of the world, if (and when) the animals take over, will we be ready?

Kituko Safari Camp (Botswana) is where we're first introduced to Jackson Oz (James Wolk) and his companion Abraham Kenyatta (Nonso Anozie), Safari tour guides who regularly take eager tourists out into the wild to experience the open plains. We learn that Oz' father specialized in the scientific study of animal behavior (and that his radical theories led him to an early grave).

Though Jackson wanted to get as far away from his hometown of Boston as humanly possible, like his father, Jackson inherited an empathy for the animal kingdom and a knack for understanding animal behavior.

While out on Safari, Jackson spots gunmen approaching a black rhino in the distance (quickly dispatching the would-be-kill by playing James Brown on the radio until the animal is well out of range).

This act of mercy doesn't come without consequences, however. One of the gunmen takes issue with the interference, as the encounter nearly escalates to an exchange of blows. While the situation is diffused by the presence of Kenyatta, the debt is by no means settled.

Los Angeles: A zoo outbreak leading to the death of civilians at the hands of escaped lions leads reporter Jamie Campbell (Kristen Connolly) to further investigate the unusual occurrence.

When her "anonymous" blog names a major corporation as the primary food supplier of zoo's nationwide (food that appears to have been tampered with) this soon comes to the attention of her bosses, and she quickly finds herself in hot water.

Botswana: Jackson and Abraham are en route to a neighboring Safari camp, but, as soon as they arrive, they know something isn't right. The camp itself is utterly desolate, the leftover food is swarming with flies (and there isn't a soul in sight). Following what appear to be the tracks of a single lion, they come across a vehicle -- doors ajar -- with an injured man inside.

Just as soon as Abraham goes to investigate, the lone scream of an injured tourist and the loud roar of a lion stop both men dead in their tracks. Multiple lions appear as if out of thin air, and Jackson can do nothing but turn and flee as Abraham is left to fend for himself against the oncoming predators. Jackson gets a few shots off before he and the mysterious woman hastily climb back into the vehicle Jackson and Abraham drove there.

With the shock and utter horror of what they just witnessed fresh in their minds, Jackson and Chloe (Nora Arzeneder) can do nothing but drive as far away as possible, and Jackson is painfully aware of the fact that something is seriously wrong.

A typical pride of lions consists of one, maybe two male lions at  most, how is it that these ambushing male lions were even together, let alone coordinated in their attack?

Just when they think they're out of the woods, however, the car breaks down, and Jackson realizes that the lions specifically targeted the radiator. With darkness (and certain death) looming, the pair make their way on foot back to the deserted camp (but not before another rendezvous with the lions). Cornered on a cliffside with no means of escape, Jackson and Chloe tumble downward (but not before Jackson notices in the attacking lions an unusual phenomena first coined by his father: defiant pupil).

What he initially interpreted as being an uncooperative student, divine pupil is a term referring to the physical manifestation of a deformed pupil in the eyes of "infected" animals. Perhaps his father wasn't so radical after all. 

Back in Los Angeles, Jamie becomes aware that all the neighborhood cats have gone missing, and, through further investigation of the zoo escape, she crosses paths with Mitch Morgan (Billy Burke), a Veterinary Pathologist also investigating the incident. While both are only just beginning to scratch the surface of what's going on, both agree that there is definitely something amiss (even if they can't quite put a finger on it).

After somehow surviving the lions (and the fall), Jackson and Chloe miraculously make it back to the abandoned camp (though their brief respite is exactly that). After radioing for help, Jackson is put under arrest by the arriving guards, and when the poacher robbed of his earlier kill promptly steps out of one of the vehicles, things go from bad to worse.

With Jackson under arrest, Jamie and Mitch locating the horde of abandoned cats in a tree on day-school grounds, and Abraham kept barely alive at the mercy of his lion captors, 'Zoo' leaves us all with quite the cliffhanger, white-knuckled, and teeth bare.

As an amalgam of 'The Island of Dr. Moreau,' 'Ghosts In The Darkness,' and 'Deep Blue Sea,' 'Zoo' poses an interesting question: Is the Animal Kingdom due for a shift in the balance of power? And, if so, where will we rank when the hunter becomes the hunted?

Catch an all-new episode of 'Zoo' next Tuesday at 9/8c on CBS. 

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