This work traces the evolution of zoos from the private menageries of the ancient world to the corporate organizations of today. Drawing on interviews with zoo personnel, it considers how successful zoos are in preserving endangered species and the challenges of co-ordinating programmes.
On a rainy day in May 1988, a lowland gorilla named Willie B. stepped outdoors for the first time in twenty-seven years, into a new landscape immersion exhibit. Born in Africa, Willie B. had been captured by an animal collector and sold to a zoo. During the decades he spent in a cage, zoos stopped collecting animals from the wild and Americans changed the ways they wished to view animals in the zoo. Zoos developed new displays to simulate landscapes like the Amazon River basin and African forests. Exhibits similar to animals' natural habitats began to replace old-fashioned animal houses. But such displays are only the most recent effort of zoos to present their audiences with an authentic experience of nature. Since the first zoological park opened in the United States in Philadelphia in 1874, zoos have promised their visitors a journey into the natural world. And for more than a century they have been popular places for education and recreation: every year more than 130 million Americans go to zoos to look at the animals and enjoy a day outdoors. The first book-length history of American zoos, Animal Attractions examines the meaning of nature in the city by looking at the ways zoos have assembled and displayed their animal collections. Situated literally and culturally in the American middle landscape, zoos are concrete expressions of longstanding tensions between wildness and civilization, science and popular culture, education and entertainment. In their efforts to promote nature appreciation, they reveal much about how our culture envisions the natural world and the human place in it and how these ideas have changed.
Since the 1960s, zoos and aquariums have been repeatedly challenged by animal rights activists, regulatory agencies, anti-tax advocates, and an assortment of litigators. Working through the American Zoological Association, these institutions learned to use the U.S. political system to their advantage and, simultaneously, crafted a more progressive public mission. This original study draws upon interviews, archival sources, Congressional records, court cases, regulatory hearings, media accounts, and the authors' ongoing field research.
Despite hundreds of millions of visitors each year, zoos have remained outside of the realm of philosophical analysis. This lack of theoretical examination is interesting considering the paradoxical position within which a zoo is situated, being a space of animal confinement as well as a site that provides valuable tools for species conservation, public education, and entertainment. Why Do We Go to the Zoo? argues that the zoo is a legitimate space of academic inquiry. The modes of communication taking place at the zoo that keep drawing us back time and time again beg for a careful investigation. In this book, the meaning of the zoo as communicative space is explored. This book relies on the phenomenological method from Edmund Husserl and a rhetorical approach to examine the interaction between people and animals in the zoo space. Phenomenology, the philosophy of examining the engaged everyday lived experience, is a natural method to use in the project. Despite its rich history and tradition it is interesting that there are very few books explaining how to do phenomenology. Why Do We Go to the Zoo? provides a detailed account of how to actually conduct a phenomenological analysis. The author spent thousands of hours in zoos watching people and animals interact as well as talking with people both formally and informally. This book asks readers to bracket their preconceptions of what goes on in the zoo and, instead, to explore the meaning of powerful zoo experiences while reminding us of the troubled history of zoos."
In this book, Keekok Lee asks the question, "what is an animal, and how does our treatment of it within captivity affect its status as abeing?" This ontological treatment marks the first such approach in looking at animals in captivity. Engaging with the moral questions of zoo-keeping (is it morally justified to keep a wild animal in captivity?) as well as the ontological (what is it that we conserve in zoos after all? A wild animal or its shadow?), Lee develops her own original hypothesis, centred around the concept of "immuration"--defining this in contrast to domestication--and thereby provides a unique addition to the growingbody of work on animal ethics.
This is the first book to specifically examine zoos as tourist attractions. Taking a global approach, it considers the multiple roles of zoos, particularly the difficulty of balancing conservation, education and entertainment.
Modern zoos and aquaria are playing an increasingly active and important role in protecting and managing global biodiversity. Many zoos include wildlife conservation in their mission and have started changing the focus of their institutions in order to increase even further the benefits of their activities for in situ wildlife conservation. With these developments, the following searching questions are now being asked: What is the true role of zoos in conservation? How can they contribute more significantly to global conservation efforts? What are the unique attributes of zoos that can be applied in the conservation landscape? And should zoos be doing more? In parallel with this voluntary movement, legal requirements for zoos to support conservation in the wild are also becoming more stringent. This 2007 book defines a conservation vision for zoos and aquaria that will be of interest to those working in zoos, alongside practitioners and researchers in conservation.
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