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History of Zoos (General)

Many books contain a chapter or two on the history of zoos; far fewer are those which largely or totally concentrate the subject.

2009. ASHBY, ALAN. We went to the zoo today. The Golden Age of Zoo Postcards. Independent Zoo Enthusiasts Society. 119 pp.

2002. BARATAY, ERIC & HARDOUIN-FUGIER, ELISABETH. Zoo: A History of Zoological Gardens in the West. Reaktion Books Ltd, London. Translated into English by Oliver Welsh. Hb. 400 pp.
First published in French in 1998 as Zoos: Histoire des jardins zoologiques en occident.
Written by two French historians with, as far as I am aware, no connections with the world of zoology, the rhetoric is quite anti-zoo. The negative tone is set right from the front cover with its image of a barred, impoverished cage guaranteed to get the sabres rattling. The photographs are really quite good (even if one photo of a flock of pelicans at Budapest Zoo is wrongly captioned as storks) and the book is of interest for the photos alone, which is perhaps just as well because the text is littered with errors, some of them quite major. The first mistake, incredibly, occurs on the inside dust jacket: zoos did not have their origins in the Renaissance, as it claims here, but much further back. One wonders how many of these mistakes were genuine errors made by the two authors, and how many were mistakes made in translating the text from French into English. This is one of the drawbacks of republishing a book that originally appeared in a foreign language.

1968. BRIDGES, WILLIAM. The Bronx Zoo Book of Wild Animals.

2001. HANCOCKS, DAVID. A Different Nature: The Paradoxical World of Zoos and Their Uncertain Future. University of California Press. Hb. 280 pp.
This book's claim to be 'the most extensive history of zoos yet published' is questionable, especially since it had the misfortune to be published in the same year as Zoo and Aquarium History, a book which, unlike A Different Nature, concentrated exclusively on the historical aspect of zoos. Mr Hancocks calls for zoos to reinvent themselves. Many of his comments about zoo architecture are perfectly valid and zoos would do well to heed them; with some of his other pet beliefs he is on less firm ground. A staunch advocate of the so-called ‘immersion’ exhibit, he goes further still, championing the electronic zoo – a bizarre futuristic zoo whereby living animals are replaced by giant screens showing animals living in the wild.

1996. HOAGE, R.J. and DEISS, WILLIAM A. (Eds.). New Worlds, New Animals: From Menagerie to Zoological Park in the Nineteenth Century. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London. Pb. 198 pp.

2001. KISLING Jnr, VERNON N. (editor). Zoo and Aquarium History: Ancient Animal Collections to Zoological Gardens. CRC Press, Boca Raton, London, New York, Washington. Hb. 415 pp.

The history of the zoological gardens of Western Europe, North America and Australia is well documented in a variety of publications as this list can testify. This book provides it all in one handy tome, and goes much further by detailing the history of the zoos of Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, the Near East, Asia, Africa and South America. There are, however, inexplicable omissions. Anyone hoping to read anything on the zoos of Canada or New Zealand will be disappointed. Nine authorities contributed chapters, including Bartlett Society founder Clinton Keeling with an essay on the ‘Zoological Gardens of Great Britain’. The Appendix lists the major zoos of the world, extant and extinct.

Date? KNOTTNERUS MEYER, T. Birds and Beasts of the Roman Zoo.

1974. POULSEN, OLGA and PARBST, ERIK. Copenhagen Zoo: The World of Animals and Us.
2002. ROTHFELS, NIGEL. Savages and Beasts: The Birth of the Modern Zoo. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore & London. Hb. 268 pp.
The role that the German animal dealer and entrepreneur Carl Hagenbeck played in the history of the public exhibition of animals. The animal park he set up at Stellingen was revolutionary and represented a whole new way of thinking, and the inspiration behind Whipsnade Zoo, London Zoo’s Mappin Terraces, and countless other exhibits in zoos around the world. A very well researched book, as the 43 pages of ‘Notes’ and the nine pages of ‘A Note on Sources’ prove.