Animal Park (Zoo): What You Should Know

A zoo is a place where animals live in enclosures. Visitors can see them there. The animals are cared for and fed by people. The word comes from “zoological garden”. Zoology is the science that deals with animals. Other words are “animal park” and “menagerie”.

Humans have kept wild animals for thousands of years. Today, zoo owners say: Visitors shouldn’t just come to the zoo because they enjoy seeing animals. The visitors should also learn something. However, there are also people who do not think it is good at all to lock up wild animals.

There is at least one zoo in almost every country in the world. Some are big, some small. Not everyone has “exotic” animals from distant countries. In Germany alone, you can visit over 800 zoos. They are visited by many millions of people.

Something similar to a zoo is a wildlife park or a safari park. The animals usually have much more space there. Visitors are only allowed on certain paths through the park. At the safari park, they usually drive because there are dangerous animals running around in the park: lions, for example.
When did humans invent the zoo?
Even in ancient times, rulers and rich people had gardens built in which they kept animals locked up. Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna has been around for over 250 years. It is the oldest zoo still in existence today.

The first modern zoo was created in London in 1828. It was actually intended to serve scientists so that they could better study the animals. But the real purpose was to entertain the people of London. That’s why it was built in the middle of the city. The London Zoo became a model for many other zoos.

What is there in zoos?

When thinking of a zoo, the first thing that comes to mind is the places where animals live: cages, enclosures, aquariums, and others. For example, there is a monkey house with cages for the monkeys and passageways for visitors. Also, it needs buildings for the people who work in the zoo, like the zoo keepers. Such buildings also house the devices they use, for example, to clean a cage.

Visitors should have a nice day at the zoo. There are often playgrounds for children. Some zoos have movie theaters showing films about animals. In souvenir shops, for example, you can buy figurines of animals. Last but not least, visitors should be able to buy something to eat and drink.

Some zoos are very old. That’s why there are old buildings to admire in it, which are interesting in themselves. Statues showing animals or zoo directors from the past are also common.

What are the zoos for?

Today zoo owners mostly say that a zoo has several functions. A zoo, for example, is there for the entertainment and recreation of people. So you go to a zoo because you like seeing animals. Also, many people find it relaxing and calming at the zoo.

A zoo should also teach people something. There is information on signs on the cages and enclosures: what the animal is called, where it comes from, what it eats, and so on. The zoo staff explained something about the animals to visitors. School classes also visit zoos.

When people know more about animals, they may also find it important that animals are protected. People should stand up for the environment and live more consciously. Then there is a greater chance that animals will no longer be threatened with extinction.

The people who work at the zoo learn a lot about the animals they care for themselves. In addition, scientists in zoos do research on animals. With this knowledge you can, for example, help sick animals better, or you can learn what their habitat should be like. Scientists can observe animals more easily in zoos than in the wild.

After all, animals are born in zoos, of which there are not many left in the world. In this way, a species may be preserved that would have been extinct in the wild. Zoos also release animals into the wild, which means that they gently introduce some animals born in zoos to nature. These animals can then live and reproduce in nature. Zoos should therefore serve to protect species.

Why doesn’t everyone like zoos?

In the zoos of the past, the animals were often locked in small cages. This is usually different today, at least in some zoos. The animals have more space in the large enclosures and can also withdraw from time to time.

Nevertheless, the animals remain locked up. Especially for wild animals, i.e. no pets, such a life is very sad, very boring, or maybe very stressful. They cannot roam in nature or avoid other animals. Sharks that always swim in circles or monkeys that always do the same thing are not happy animals.

Zoos sometimes release animals into the wild, so these animals still live in the wild. But that rarely happens. If an animal has been in a zoo, then it has forgotten or not learned at all how to survive in nature. For example, it doesn’t know how to get something to eat for itself.

Conversely, many zoos allow animals to be captured in the wild. That’s why there are so many and so different animals in zoos today. In addition, some animals do not grow very old in zoos but die of diseases. Then the zoos have to catch new animals again.

You can observe animals in zoos well. That’s good for research. But the animals in the zoo don’t always behave the way they would in nature. That is why some people think badly of such research.

Those who are against zoos often do not believe that visitors really learn much about animals. Most visitors just want to see animals and have a nice day. Animal rights activists say they don’t care about the suffering of animals. Some people deliberately disturb the animals, tease them, or throw trash in the enclosures.

Most zoos are businesses that want to make money. For them, it is important that many visitors come. Animals are not always bred because they are threatened with extinction, but there are cute baby animals to look at. The critics say: When the baby animals grow up, they are often sold to other zoos or killed.

How about exhibiting humans in zoos?

Some writers find this thought interesting: What if aliens came and locked people in zoos? There are stories in which extraterrestrials fly through the universe in their UFOs and take a few creatures with them from each planet. The people in these stories feel trapped and try to escape.

But in fact, people used to be exhibited in zoos. In the rich countries of Europe and North America, people wanted to see what kind of people lived in the colonies in Africa, for example. These people were shown in the zoo or in the circus, similar to how animals are shown. Such an exhibition was called “Völkerschau”, “Human Zoo”, “Colonial Show”, “African Village” or something else.

In Germany, the Tierpark Hagenbeck in Hamburg first exhibited humans. That was in 1874. At that time it was difficult for black people to get normal work in Germany. That is why some have worked in ethnological shows, including children. They later reported how ashamed they were: they were stared at like wild animals.

In 1940 the “Völkerschau” ended in Germany: the National Socialists banned black people from performing in general. Later there were no more “ethnological shows”. One reason for this was television. In addition, many Germans could afford to travel to other countries themselves. Today, these “shows” are considered racist and demeaning.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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