Sunday, March 25, 2012

Zoo -The past, present, and future

Ragunan zoo gate (src: wikimedia)

News about Surabaya zoo recently had just brought my curiosity to the zoo itself. It seems an interesting topic to talk. Several questions came to my mind, how is the story about zoo? (The origin), what is the purpose of the zoo? What the zoo built for? Are the zoos truly harmed the animals in captivating them, placed in a cage while it (animals) should be in a wild nature? Let’s find out!

Zoo has long story history from ancient world to modern times. From ancient Egypt, Chinese Empress, to the Roman Emperor most of the Kings have zoological collection. In Egypt which was known during excavation at Hierakonpolis revealed some animals in collection like hippos, hartebeest, elephants, baboons and wildcats while in Tanki Chinese Empress had a “house of deer”. Not only as a collection, some of the animals also used for study and used in the arena like Roman emperor had done. In Medieval English some of the kings also kept a collection of animals. Henry I of England for example, he kept lions, leopards, and camels at his palace.

Menagerie, a form of keeping common and exotic animals in captivity, preceded the zoological garden. Vienna zoo in Austria was evolved from the Imperial Menagerie at the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna. Following the oldest zoo in Vienna, others zoo was just founded. It spread all over the world from Madrid, Paris, Russia, London, Melbourne, and so on.

The word ‘zoo’ derived from word zoology, the study of animal. From just a collection zoo was developed into an education and scientific research place. Since it opened to public zoo wasn’t just for entertainment but also an education center. If we looked at the first generation of zoo (around 1752-1831) most of the zoo built in the interest of studying animals. Then since 1970s zoos’ role was moved from just zoological garden became conservation for ecology reason. Following this positive trend some zoos in America stopped animals perform tricks for visitor.

How is it? Zoo looks fine doesn’t it? It created for studying the animals and they seemed treat the animals good in a conservation shape to keep them spread in nature. However some people considered most zoos are just keeping animals in captivity in breed. They questioned the conservation role and argue that zoos make a “minuscule contribution to conservation. “

Furthermore, the fact that some of zoo around the world are in worst condition. They give a bad care. Lot of animals lives in inappropriate cage. Wild animals like tiger and lion are stressed during their captivity. Their lives are changing. If in its nature they can run, walk as far as they can and hunt for prey, now they can’t. Now, they’ve just wait for their food. This condition even worse by the rise of an illegal animal market that involving zoo staff.

Right after this, another question came. Is zoo are good or bad?

Conway, William (1995). "The conservation park: A new zoo synthesis for a changed world", in The Ark Evolving: Zoos and Aquariums in Transition, Wemmer, Christen M. (ed.), Smithsonian Institution Conservation and Research Center, Front Royal, Virginia.
Blunt, Wilfrid (1976). The Ark in the Park: The Zoo in the Nineteenth Century, Hamish Hamilton, London. Hyson, Jeffrey (2003). "Zoos," in Encyclopedia of World Environmental History: O-Z, Krech, Shepard, Mc Neill, John Robert and Merchant, Carolyn (ed.), Routledge, London.
Robinson, Michael H. (1987a). "Beyond the zoo: The biopark", Defenders of Wildlife Magazine, Vol. 62, No. 6.
Reichenbach, Herman (2002). "Lost Menageries: Why and How Zoos Disappear (Part 1)",International Zoo News Vol.49/3 (No.316), April–May 2002.


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